International Wonderland has always puzzled me. While the location is prime with its close proximity to Sanlitun’s plethora of restaurants and bars and there are plenty of foreigners who live in the apartments above, you’d think it there would be a lot more happening in the 1st floor retail outlets. But the shops below have always seemed random and empty. Seemingly the only business with any ambition was Parlor. But things are changing quickly with the arrival of Base Fit fitness center (2nd floor) and Home Grounds restaurant (first floor).
While Base Fit and Home Grounds are new in Beijing, this is the same team behind Living Bigg, which was a gym just next to original Hatchery location by Tuanjiehu subway exit B. Since the demise of The Hatchery last year, the Hatchery moved to a new location just south of Zhangzizhonglu subway station on Dongsi Jiutiao 东四九条 in the dynamic co-working space called 5LMeet. Living Bigg has also expanded to a second platform and moved most classes to Base Fit, from Tuanjiehu to Sanlitun’s International Wonderland. Although they are no longer associated with the Hatchery, they have opened up their own restaurant called Home Grounds, located just below Base Fit.
With its association and close proximity to a gym, you might expect that Home Grounds would be focused on healthy salads and juices. In fact, the menu does have a handful of salads and they do serve juices, but that is not at all their focus or what they’re about. Their menu is designed for taste and comfort, and anyone who is calorie counting or on any paleo or gluten-free diet will be sorely disappointed. #sorrynotsorry #yourdietyourchoice
Their chef consultant Joel Bennetts is from Australia and has created a menu that is based around the buzzing and growing Australian café/bistro culture. Scanning through their menu, you’ll find comfort food ranging from salads, sandwiches, pastas and some hearty mains with lots of garlic and flavor. And alongside a drinks menu with juices and smoothies, they’ve also got a decent range of refreshing cocktails, beers and other non-healthy beverages.
Entrance on the 1st Floor of International Wonderful (West Side Facing 幸福二村四港）
Stepping Inside Home Grounds, a Casual Eatery with an Aussie Chef Consultant
Ordering Counter for Fast & Easy Service
Homemade Granola Displayed Opposite…
And a Long Bar with a lot of Glassware for Cocktails Galore
Their menu has two sides – one side has 8 hearty brunch dishes and 5 varied salad options ranging from Tofu, Quinoa and Pumpkin (RMB 65) to a Thai Beef Salad (RMB 70) and Roast Chicken with Pickled Daikon (RMB 65), but we were focused a bit more on the other side, which is more dinner-appropriate. There are both small and large dishes (starters vs. mains) with a few sides and desserts to complement our dish choices.
Home Grounds Menu
Fruity & Fun Cocktails
In the mood to indulge, we tried a couple of Home Grounds’ cocktails: the Yellow Fever is an interesting twist on a gin and tonic and the Game, Set, Match is a Pimms based drink. Both were very refreshing and enjoyable!
Soft Spice Tomato Soup with Onion, Paprika, Capsicum, Chili, Sour Cream, Herbs and Toasted Bread (RMB 30)
We started with a piquant tomato soup, the addition of chili powder gives this soup a serious kick. This is one of my favorite things on the menu (that I’ve tasted thus far) and I’ve been back to Home Grounds specifically with this soup in mind. But I do think that they should change the name of “Soft Spice” because it’s anything but soft when it comes to the level of spice. Exactly why I’m such a big fan of this soup, but also misleading for those who are sensitive to spice.
Garlic Chili Squid with lemon, parsley and toasted bread (RMB 55)
Onto another of my favourite things: garlic. The garlic and chili squid is all about the pungent allium. Cooked well, it wasn’t at all rubbery and as I said, I love the full-on garlic flavour. #nosuchthingastoomuchgarlic
Crispy Chicken Nuggets with HG Pickles and Chipotle Mayo (RMB 45)
Wonderful morsels of goodness, we couldn’t get enough of these crispy chicken nuggets. Crispy on the outside and tender on the inside, it was a battle when it came down to the last piece of nugget. Another highlight of the meal.
Thai Beef Salad with Mixed Lettuce, Cucumber, Coriander, Thai Basil, Kaffir Lime, Crushed Cashews, Nam Jim Dressing (RMB 70)
This dish really packed a spicy punch. While I love the spicy tomato soup, I thought the spice in this Thai Beef Salad was over-the-top. And while I can see the corianders and other Thai herbs, all I could taste was spice. I also thought that for RMB 70 for a salad, the portion was small and rather than mixed lettuce, they should use spinach, kale, a wider range of greens.
Torched Corn Cob with Chili, Kaffir Lime, Parmesan Cheese (RMB 35)
I think that corn in China is just very different from corn elsewhere. I thought the corn was too chewy and missing that juicy crunch that I love from BBQ’d corn on the cobs back in Cali.
Steak Sandwich with Rocket, Tomato, Pickled Cucumber, HG Aioli and Toasted Sourdough (RMB 65)
Next up, we had the steak sandwich. The combo of ingredients was well thoughtout and the flavours were well balanced. Unfortunately the sandwich disintegrated pretty quickly. I always think that steak is tough to include in a sandwich since the bite is never clean. I found that I ended up with bites where all the steak came out and left with only tomatoes and rocket in my sandwich. But if you don’t mind getting stuck in and the challenge of eating a steak sandwich without it getting everywhere, go for it.
Tsing Tao Battered Fish & Chips with Lemon and HG Tartare Sauce (RMB 70)
Another dish I’ve gone back to Home Grounds for, the fish is TsingTao battered sea bass and retains it’s moisture beautifully. Home Grounds also give you all the accoutrements you could want. Vinegar, lemon and home made tartar sauce and chicken salt over the chips (aka fries)!
Chicken Pesto Penne with Kale, Sunflower Seeds, Garlic, Parsley, Parmesan Cheese, Lemon (RMB 65)
More proof that Home Grounds is made for comfort food – you’ll find not one, but two pasta dishes! This amount of carbs on a plate would scare most fitness addicts away. There’s also a Prawn Spaghetti, but we got the Chicken Pesto Penne. While it’s definitely not the star attraction, it’s also fine. It could use more garlic and flavor in my humble opinion, but if you have a craving, it is a perfectly good pesto penne!
Bowl of Mussels with Toasted Baguette, Garlic, Thyme, White Wine, Cream, Lemon, Herbs (RMB 80)
Very tasty and good quality mussels with a white wine sauce that I slurped up, but the portion was rather small for RMB 80.
Broccolini & Anchoiade Sauce (RMB 35)
The side of greens made us feel a bit better about getting the penne pasta, steak sandwich and Tsing Tao Battered Fish & Chips. Beware that they’re bitter and taste as healthy as they are.
Coconut & Lime Sago with Mango, Dragon Fruit, Kiwi and Toasted Almonds (RMB 35)
For dessert, we tried the coconut sago and fruit. Not too sweet, this dessert isn’t a show stopper, but it is a great healthier option for those who want something sweet to finish off their meal. Next time, I’ll probably get their Chocolate Brownie with Vanilla Ice Cream and Salted Caramel (RMB 35).
Conclusion: Home Grounds represents a positive trend for me in Beijing. Simple and straight-forward Western comfort food done well. There’s enough variety to get people in for all occasions whether you’re in the mood for brunch, a light lunch or a hearty dinner. And for people who have just gone through a rigorous work-out, this is the sort of “reward” that you will crave. Food that’s tasty and satisfying.
And if you do become a regular diner, then you can always off-set all those calories with a membership at Base Fit! What a brilliant business model.
Home Grounds Contact Details:
- Address: 39-3 Xingfu’ercun, Chaoyang District
- Tel: 010 5747 5511
- WeChat: @HomeGroundsChina
Kristen Lum has an accomplished background in PR, communications and events in China. Born and raised in California, Kristen has been based in Beijing since 2006 and is founder of the lifestyle blog called LumDimSum, covering mostly restaurant news and reviews alongside upcoming events around town that relate to Beijing’s muti-faceted, quickly-developing creative industries like art, music, film, health and fitness, fashion, nightlife, charity events, and travel tips.