To some, gorgeous boutique hotel The Orchid is a favourite
destination for a quiet weekend brunch or a cheeky midweek
staycation, but to many the hutong hotel is largely unknown.
Set in the heart
of Gulou, the hotel’s beautiful rooms – with an old hutong style and modern
feel – have remained largely the same since a recent renovation, while the
hotel’s restaurant, Toast, is bigger, brighter and sports a new dinner concept.
The concept is in line with the same blend of style and comfort that permeates
every inch of the multilevel courtyard space. An array of small plates,
designed to share, deliver a measured level of richness, texture and flavour
without stooping into the realm of wanton indulgence or jumping the shark into modernist
Toast has always been fond of Middle Eastern and north African
ingredients, made evident by the menu’s hummus, tahini, labneh and lamb kofte
to name a few. The new dinner menu runs with the theme, starting with a light
salad of couscous and merguez from Israel (68RMB) and the classic Shakshuka
(78RMB), a dish of eggs poached in ‘moderately over-seasoned tomatoes’. Garden
flavours and deeply sweet tomato notes prevail against rich egg yolk and
spices. The homemade beetroot-cured red salmon with ricotta (68RMB) gets an
added boost from a mixture of beetroot puree and yoghurt; the contrast between
earth and sea is as tasty as it is beautiful.
Freshly seared prawns on a bed of
spinach (68RMB) are a savoury departure from the creamy entrants,with the heat
from the prawn only slightly wilting the bright green leaves. The flesh is
succulent and the heads retain their briny essence and bright pink colour. Our
favourite new item is hands down the beef and lamb kofte with mashed potato and
poached egg (78RMB), a low-country dish of rustic meatballs made with potato
and Middle Eastern spices, all coated in the liquid yolk of a poached egg. The
roast duck salad (78RMB) and the samosas (68RMB) shouldn’t be missed either.
recommend going with a group as plates are small but so are the price tags –
sharing is a must. That being said, it might well be Beijing’s best date spot
for ambiance, price point and all around ‘in-the-know’ cool points. With wine
by the glass starting at 40RMB and the gorgeous terrace opening soon, you’ll be
sure to find us eating at The Orchid’s revamped restaurant in the months to