When celebrity chef Daniel Boulud shuttered his Beijing outpost Maison Boulud, we were left wondering what else could possibly fill the void of gold-standard French bistro food so definitively.
Enter Jarrod Verbiak. Formerly of Maison Boulud, and Miami’s db Bistro Moderne before that, he’s worked with Boulud for over a decade. Now, at the helm of Bistrot B, we’re seeing Verbiak unchained – and he’s really got his game on.
‘Bistrot B: a theatrical food experience’ is the tagline on the menu at the Rosewood Hotel's French eatery – and they nailed it. The kitchen’s front and centre, an open and welcoming sprawl in the middle of the room. Chefs stand over stovetops deglazing pans with red wine and studiously plating dishes moments before they are whisked off onto the floor. It’s chic and modern with floor-to-ceiling windows giving the space an open airy feel. Service is warm, engaged and sporting inordinately fashionable uniforms.
When the butter comes showered in lush flakes of Maldon sea salt, you know it’s going to be a meal par excellence. An exceptional onion soup gratinée is something we didn’t think existed in Beijing. Verbiak proves us wrong when he blankets a beguilingly complex mess of caramelised onions with prodigious amounts of cheese. It’s transformative – you’ll want to eat nothing but this again. Two impeccable slabs of pâté maison (pictured) echo the flawlessness you might remember from Maison Boulud.
There are occasional splashes of Asian that interrupt the classic French fare. The Cantonese-style barbecue is a worthy pause. Sweet, savoury and edged in vermillion red, the char siew is a benchmark for barbecued pork. A juicy soy-glazed roast chicken comes from Shunyi Farm. This is part of Rosewood’s Partners of Provenance programme, dedicated to supporting local artisan producers. Siu yuk (pork belly) comes in dainty, dangerous squares with crispy skin tops and achingly tender meat. Get a taste of it all on the combination platter.
Mains arrive in prodigious quantities. From the size of the duck confit, it looks to have been some sort of prehistoric fowl – we’re pretty sure today’s birds don’t have legs that massive. It falls apart to the touch, spilling out over potatoes flecked with truffle and a pork belly rillon. The croque monsieur is equally as monumental, jammed with ham and encased in melted cheese as though protecting something precious. ‘This is enormous,’ we remark to a manager in passing. ‘Well, it’s bistro food,’ he replies, a polite way of telling us to just suck it up . We do so – happily.
We somehow make it to dessert – gasping a bit, admittedly. The chocolate pot de crème is an excessive end to an unrestrained meal. We’re starting to catch on: Bistrot B hooks you from the start and won’t let go until the very end. We wouldn’t want it any other way.