The best international fine dining restaurants in Beijing 2015 as chosen by our expert panel of anonymous reviewers and countless votes from Time Out Beijing readers.
If you want special, you want Temple. There’s no way to leave Temple Restaurant Beijing without feeling like a princess – even you, boys. Its clandestine setting at the end of a hutong only heightens the drama of entering the flawlessly restored temple courtyard. It’s full-stop stunning.
Belgian proprietor Ignace Lecleir marks the apex of hospitality. Even if we reject trickle down economics, something like that is happening here; service is gracious and anticipates your every need, even before you do. You want to split a single tasting menu and wine pairing? Sure! It’s a level of accommodation unparalleled in Beijing and beyond.
Chef Sydney De Hart, formerly of Brian McKenna @ The Courtyard, took over the kitchen last summer and has a steady hand at the stove. Butter-poached lobster is paired with crab, notes of sage and a shower of toasted pumpkin seeds. It’s one of the best things we’ve eaten this year.
ORDER THIS Seared pigeon with foie gras, pistachio croutons, polenta and roasted grapes (210RMB).
SIT HERE For supper, request one of the cosy booths towards the back where the atmosphere’s intimate but you can still people-watch.
The dining room is elegantly minimal, the food decidedly not. It’s rich, concentrated and luxurious. Velvety roast goose is accompanied with black ‘forbidden rice’ and an umami punch of miso. Chef and owner Brian McKenna can be playful – salads that resemble gardens, chocolate terracotta warriors, dishes served in paper instant ramen containers and faux McDonald’s cartons – yet always with a unwavering sophistication. He also knows when to drop the bells and whistles: a delicate cube of black cod arrives with a lone, gorgeous Japanese egg yolk that almost trembles in its singularity. It’s simple, delicious and the exact opposite of the whimsy we expected.
With set menus only, you’re entirely in McKenna’s hands. This is a very good thing.
SIT HERE Request one of the large tables looking onto the Forbidden City.
INSIDER TIP Arrive early and have a drink in the underground bar, where the windows are level with the imperial moat.