Beijing’s no stranger to frequent restaurant openings and it’s always fun to welcome a new addition into the neighborhood. After about two years of preopening preparations, The Puxuan Hotel and Spa is finally open – sort of. While not all the guest rooms are available and not every venue is open yet, their French-fusion bistro Rive Gauche is already welcoming guests and building relationships with future regulars.
Stepping out of the elevator, the crisp white brick walls of Rive Gauche bistro trick us into thinking it’s a casual dining establishment, but as we walk deeper into the restaurant, the vibe gets a bit more refined and, well, a whole lot fancier. Although the restaurant is new and the team is still getting into their rhythm, the kitchen is already in full swing. Their menu is simplistic and modern with creative hand-drawn illustrations by chef Ivan Miguez. Talk about being a man of many crafts.
For those looking for a quick bite to get a taste of what Rive Gauche has to offer, their lunch set menus are a great place to start. There are two choices available (RMB148 for two courses or RMB178 for three), each with a selection of their signature dishes. The a la carte menu offers many more options with some slightly ambiguous names, so this one takes some extra time to skim through.
After careful consideration, we opt for the carrot soup with fennel foam and caraway seeds. Simply called Carrot (RMB98) on the menu, the small bowl of soup arrives in a beautiful Eiffel Tower three-layer bowl (no joke). It’s definitely photo worthy, so snap before you snack. Main courses are aplenty – at just RMB148 each, you’re pretty much bound to find something you’re in the mood for, with the exception of the short ribs and cote de boeuf (both an additional RMB298) that’s meant to be shared. Our tender venison (RMB148) is cooked to perfection with a chocolate raspberry sauce and smooth rich grits, giving the dish a taste of Southern comfort. It’s not quite what you’d expect from a French bistro, but we don’t mind, as it’s absolutely delicious.
It’s clear this French bistro doesn’t stick to classic recipes. They’re more about updating old favorites with some fresh twists. Our favorite was the delightfully surprising Popcorn (RMB68) from their dessert menu. What kind of restaurant sells popcorn for dessert? we say to ourselves as we order. Unlike the name would suggest, it’s actually a smooth chocolate mousse with salted caramel, subtle hints of Pop Rocks to keep your palette tingling and garnished with kettle corn, making it a fantastic end to the meal. All in all, we can’t wait to see what Rive Gauche will become in a few months when they’ve got a better hang of operations and service. In the meantime, go for the food and enjoy the tasty experimental dishes whipped up from the innovative mind of chef Ivan Miguez.
[Images via Mina Yan/That's]