We’ve always liked what Brasserie
Flo has going on: fruits de mer, a
decent steak and an atmosphere
that will truly transport you out
of Beijing and drop you right in
the elegant bustle of a Parisian
brasserie. Fifteen years after
Brasserie Flo’s beginning, the Flo
group is tackling the next iconic
Gallic eatery: the French café.
Take Parkview Green’s ultra-long
escalator down and you’ll find Café
Flo in the lower level. The group’s
art deco motif runs throughout –
parquet flooring, grey-streaked
white marble-topped tables and gold
accents. A large round table spills
out onto the mall’s pedestrian area,
small booths line the mirrored walls,
and an attractive, low bar-style table
anchors the whole space. There’s
nothing else in Beijing quite like
it, and it throws off the irresistible
glamour of another time and place.
The menu’s drowned in foie gras,
duck confit and Emmental cheese.
Order the tartine périgourdine
(58RMB) to get it all in a one go. It’s
unrestrained and hearty – crispy
pieces of duck confit, foie gras and
bits of mushroom smothered with
melted cheese. The tartine croquemonsieur
(52RMB) has a sweet
lick of fig chutney that ratchets up
the unassuming classic ham and
cheese combo. Casual and cut into sixes for sharing, these dishes
aren’t blow-your-face-off works of
art, but they represent the feel of
the restaurant well – toned down,
democratic French fare.
You can run through all the
classics here, but nothing’s
game-changing. The French onion
soup’s (49RMB) floating topping
is unmoored, and a lonely island
of baguette slices lashed together
by cheese bobs in the middle. A
few more onions below might have
secured it better. There are hunks of
meat in the steak frites (steak and
French fries) tradition, though order
the frites separately as these plates
come with roasted potatoes. Pull
apart the slowly simmered meat in
the boeuf Bourguignon (118RMB).
It’s rich, but lacking in that final layer
of complexity a longer pour of red
wine or extra bit of fat might add.
On weekdays, Café Flo offers
eight set menus (69-136RMB)
themed by region, like the Alsacien
menu (98RMB), which features
the regional speciality choucroute
traditionnelle (sauerkraut with
bacon, sausage, ham and potatoes).
It’s an accessible way to get in
with French food, and that’s really
what Café Flo excels at throughout.
Beijing’s now got a satisfactory
primer on la cuisine Française – just
ignore the mall outside.