Brasserie Flo: Timeless French Fare

It is as if time freezes when you walk through these tall glass doors

In a fast-paced city like Beijing where sky-high buildings shoot up faster than you can turn your head, Brasserie Flo feels like a warped  dimension, like the only place in Beijing where any sense of time is frozen. As you step through that glamorous entrance, you can’t help but pause to admire the tall ceilings and beautiful chandeliers and you realize you’ve gotten used to living surrounded by confined congestion and what a luxury it is to have space to breathe. This establishment has the power to transport you straight out of Beijing into a truly traditional French brasserie.

Brasserie Flo

Now I say this with the utmost respect when I say that Flo is old. Having first opened its doors in 1999, that puts Flo into a league of its own, making it older than most of the other restaurants in Beijing combined. That tells you one of 2 things. Either they are pretty damn good at what they do, or they have some outrageous guanxi. Having never eaten here before and having done so now, I’d say that it’s pretty damn good.

Brasserie Flo has 2 locations in Beijing, Café Flo in Parkview Green, and the Liangmaqiao flagship location, which has a huge patio with outside bar, bakery (Boulangerie) and everything else you would expect from a top class restaurant.

Brasserie Flo

A Massive Outside Patio Surrounded in Green

As dazzling as Brasserie Flo is, I should mention that there are a couple of caveats. It’s really French, and it’s really formal. Except that none of the customers respect the formality.Bow-tied wait staff, hand folded napkins and a vast wine list is to be expected. Unfortunately, the customers don’t quite match the effort the restaurant makes. This mismatch is something that is a fact of life in Beijing, but still sticks out, and you don’t really want to have a small child screaming on the table next to you while you take a client or a date to a nice dinner.

Ok, onto the food. The menu is an exploration of French cuisine and includes pretty much every classic dish the French have created. The seafood is all flown over daily, and the bakery makes French sticks, tarts and macaroons fresh regularly. Don’t expect innovation. This is unashamedly derivative, but that doesn’t mean it’s bad – just true, authentic French to its core.

Brasserie Flo

Freshly Baked Sweet Treats at Flo

The menu is, as previously mentioned, extensive. And when you’re given a hefty wine list alongside a thick a la carte menu, we were relieved to find a couple of set menus to choose from in the back (to do most of the thinking for us).

We settled on a 3 course option named Burgundy at RMB 666 (seafood, main, dessert) and a 4 course named Provence at RMB 398 (starter, soup, main, dessert). It was a nice option to choose from separate sets so that we could have more variety in selection and in the end, we shared it all anyway

First Course: Starters

Escargot were exactly what you’d hope from eating snails – that it doesn’t seem like eating snails but rather rich, buttery morsels lathered in a personal favorite combination of garlic and parsley.

Brasserie Flo: Baked Escargots, Garlic, Parsley, Isigny Ste Mere AOP butter

Baked Escargots in Garlic, Parsley, Isigny Ste Mere AOP butter

The oysters with langoustine were presented beautifully with the langoustine as a suitably imposing centrepiece. Accompanied by lemon, vinegar and other accoutrements, everything was fresh and succulent.

Brasserie Flo: 1 New Zealand langoustine, 2 Gillardeau No. 2 oysters, 2 Fine de Claire No. 3 Oysters

1 New Zealand langoustine, 2 Gillardeau No. 2 oysters, 2 Fine de Claire No. 3 Oysters

2nd Course: Soup

The mushroom and truffle soup was moreish and velvety smooth. Rich, but not overpowering.

Brasserie Flo: Creamy Mushroom Soup, Duxelle and Black Truffle Cream

Creamy Mushroom Soup, Duxelle and Black Truffle Cream

Brasserie Flo: Creamy Mushroom Soup, Duxelle and Black Truffle Cream

Main Course

The lamb shoulder came served in a separate crock pot swimming in a gorgeous stew. I basically poured all of the pot’s contents over the beautifully plated pile of couscous and steamed vegetables.

Brasserie Flo: Navarin of Lamb Shoulder with Couscous, Raisin, Parsley and Steamed Seasonal Vegetables

Navarin of Lamb Shoulder with Couscous, Raisin, Parsley and Steamed Seasonal Vegetables

Brasserie Flo: Navarin of Lamb Shoulder with Couscous, Raisin, Parsley and Steamed Seasonal Vegetables

Navarin of Lamb Shoulder with Couscous, Raisin, Parsley and Steamed Seasonal Vegetables

The lamb shoulder was tender and flavourful, but paled in my opinion, compared to the suckling pig. Delicately crispy skin on top of beautifully tender pork, it is definitely the best pork I have had in a while.

Brasserie Flo: Crispy Suckling Pig, Cep Terrine, Truffled Mashed Potato and Perigourdine Sauce

Crispy Suckling Pig, Cep Terrine, Truffled Mashed Potato and Perigourdine Sauce

Dessert:

Finally, the crème brûlée and chocolate fondant. Once again, delicious and of premium quality. The crème brûlée was thick and creamy (the perfect consistency) and the chocolate fondant used a beautiful dark chocolate that oozed out as you sliced into it. Though I normally am not a fan of mint ice cream, their homemade mint sorbet was bursting with real mint flavor (none of that artificial mint that tastes like chewing gum) and was a surprise highlight to the dessert.

Each dessert was excellently executed, but once again, nothing innovative. This is not a criticism, just a reminder that this place is classic rather than creative. You won’t find any fancy foam or molecular gastronomy here.

Brasserie Flo: Tahitian Vanilla Creme Brulee with Raspberry Textures and Vanilla Ice Cream

Tahitian Vanilla Creme Brulee with Raspberry Textures and Vanilla Ice Cream

Brasserie Flo: "Valrhona" Dark Chocolate Fondant with Griottine, Creme Fraiche, Chocolate Tuille and Mint Sherbet

‘Valrhona’ Dark Chocolate Fondant with Griottine, Creme Fraiche, Chocolate Tuille and Mint Sherbet

So, if you’re craving French food, go. It’s well executed and extraordinarily pleasant. The service was very professional (though not very personable) and the space is impressively grand, giving an air of regal luxury.

And though Flo is nothing new, we praise it for lasting the test of time, which says a lot when you’re located in such a fickle-minded, speed-fueled city like Beijing.

Brasserie Flo Contact Details:

  • Address: On Xiaoyun Lu (nearer the 4th ring), strategically close to the French embassy and near the Lido area. 18 Xiaoyun Lu, Chaoyang District
  • Chinese Address: 朝阳区霄云路18号
  • Tel: +86 (010) 6595 5135
  • Daily Opening Hours: Lunch: Sunday – Monday: 11:00 – 15:00, Dinner: Sunday – Monday: 17:30 – 23:00
  • Website: http://www.flo.cn/brasserie/

About Kristen

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.

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