Brasserie 1893 at the Waldorf Astoria underwent a transformation in early 2017, moving it from French fine dining into a more casual, bistro affair – with lower prices to match. For the original review, see below. For our take on the reinvigorated space, see 'Read more'.
You might need some directions to make your way past the hotel’s gleaming copper façade to the Waldorf Astoria
’s signature restaurant, Brasserie 1893. It’s not an obvious route from the plush lobby lounge directly to the eatery even though, in terms of style, the two share a complementary Jazz Age vibe. But you’ll know you’re there when you see the massive, state-of-the-art open kitchen; a spectacle that occupies nearly half the floor space. It’s pure theatre for diners, who are seated in an arena of gleaming silverware, carefully arranged on polished wood.
In terms of set-up, every luxury requirement has been indelibly met.This neighbourhood bubbles with extravagance, but the newer Waldorf already commands enough gravitas to set itself apart. Head chef Benoit Chargy has put together a classy menu of modern takes on traditional French classics, served on small sharing plates that are perfect for sharing. Three small dishes — which include elegant bites of poached octopus marinated in lemon garlic or soy marinated yellow fin tuna — come in at a reasonable 98RMB, or you can get five for 148RMB.
The restaurant's culinary mentality is haute cuisine hip. The arty presentation works well with accessible flavour combinations: the lobster and scallop ravioli is given a contemporary twist with a peach coulis (188RMB); a whole roast baby chicken with root vegetables and gravy (298RMB) comes in a rustic casserole dish that could be straight from a traditional family oven.
Western standards are also dished up with aplomb. A bavette flap steak cut of pan-fried wagyu beef tenderloin (338RMB) is evenly tender and juicy throughout.
Desserts are rich and traditional, and 88RMB a piece. The photo-perfect red velvet cake, a Waldorf signature is a triumph; a dense, multi-layered cake artfully moulded to appear almost like a rose in bloom. Also excellent is the caramelised mille-feuille, while the deconstructed banoffee pie hits the spot with shortbread and rich cream spooned into glass serving dish, even if it is a little dense. The exposed kitchen sometimes crosses the line from hearty atmosphere into being disturbingly loud, but overall Brassierie 1893’s style is enough to keep customers happy and indulged.