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The Courtyard is Again Reborn As TRB Bites@The Courtyard

Earlier this year, the Beijing food scene was shocked by Brian McKenna’s out of the blue announcement to close the Courtyard and then shocked again by TRB’s equally out of the blue announcement that they would take over the stunning location. Out of the ashes was born TRB Bites@The Courtyard.

“Reinventing a venue that has played home to many legendary dining institutions, TRB Bites is a convivial refuge that we refer to as “A Casual and Modern Eatery”: where we envision our guests enjoying themselves in a relaxed and chic setting while we serve up tasty treats that are prepared with passion.” –  TRB Bites@The Courtyard

Enter the restaurant, situated by the East gate of the Forbidden City, and you will be shocked at how different it feels compared to previously. None of the changes made are in themselves shocking, but the cumulative effect is indeed profound.

TRB Bites feels light, airy and open even at night. It still has the excellent views of it’s predecessor and the small terrace is lovely for an early evening apéritif.

Bites by TRB: Love Bites Here

Look for this Sign on the East Gate of the Forbidden City

Soft-Opening 5-Course Menu Dishes

We sampled almost everything on the menu, and what I can unequivocally tell you is that in this soft opening stage (prices may change for the official opening), TRB Bites is one of the best value meals you will eat anywhere in the world. 5 courses for 288RMB is a steal. Go ASAP!

You can at the moment – until I believe the end of September – mix any of the courses and enjoy everything they have to offer. That means you can just get 5 of their “hearty bites” if you’re feeling ambitious or whatever mishmash combo of dishes as you see fit.

From our extensive tasting, I’d like to highlight a few dishes that really stood out to us. And unless you come in a group of 6 as we did, you’ll have to limit your selection down to 3, 4, or 5 dishes.

  • Scallop Tartare with Potato Cheese Foam – delicate, piquant and elegantly presented.
  • Bone Marrow with Snails- I would lick the plate clean on this one. Instead, we ordered another 2 of this dish so that I could have one entirely to myself and leave the other one for the rest of my foodie table. 
  • Lamb Loin with Mustard Seed and Onion Jam- as good as it sounds and still exceeded our expectations with its tender texture and bursting flavors. 
  • Duck Confit with Carrots – a lovely surprise as we did not expect this to be so spectacular. The traditional dish is a favorite, but this was a really special, unique adaption that just raised the bar on this French classic.

Bites Pre-Starters:

Bites by TRB: Goat Cheese Macaroon, Bacon + Crispy Rice Ball Bites

Marinated Bacon, Goat Cheese Macaroon + Crispy Rice Ball Bites

Bites by TRB: Amuse Bouche - Fried Shrimp and Small Bites

Amuse Bouche – Fried Shrimp and Small Bites

Lightly Bitten Starters:

Bites by TRB: Gravlax, Beet Root Cream, Vinaigrette

Gravlax, Beet Root Cream, Vinaigrette

Bites by TRB: Scallop Tartare, Potato Cheese Foam

Scallop Tartare, Potato Cheese Foam

Bites by TRB

Bone Marrow, Snails, Garlic, Parsley

Bites from the Sea:

Bites by TRB: Sea Bass, Bell Pepper, Barbecue Fennel, Blue Cheese Foam

Sea Bass, Bell Pepper, Barbecue Fennel, Blue Cheese Foam

Bites by TRB: Bouillabaisse-style Fish Stew, Saffron Aioli

Bouillabaisse-style Fish Stew, Saffron Aioli

Bites by TRB: Mackerel, Herbs, Roasted Hazelnut, Tomato

Mackerel, Herbs, Roasted Hazelnut, Tomato

Bites by TRB: Snapper Chorizo, White Bean Puree, Almond Sauce

Snapper Chorizo, White Bean Puree, Almond Sauce

Hearty Bites:

Bites by TRB: Chicken, Vanilla Pea Puree, Crushed Peas

Chicken, Vanilla Pea Puree, Crushed Peas

Bites by TRB: Veal Tenderloin, Crayfish, Seasonal Vegetables

Veal Tenderloin, Crayfish, Seasonal Vegetables

Bites by TRB: Duck and Carrot Texture, Wheat Berries, Curried Raisins

Duck and Carrot Texture, Wheat Berries, Curried Raisins

Bites by TRB: Lamb Loin, Mustard Seeds, Onion Jam

Lamb Loin, Mustard Seeds, Onion Jam

Bites by TRB: Belgian Style Blood Sausage, Dates, Onions

Belgian Style Blood Sausage, Dates, Onions

Bites by TRB: Pork, Purple Potato, Seasonal Vegetables

Pork, Purple Potato, Seasonal Vegetables

Bites from the Garden:

Bites by TRB: Risotto, Seasonal Mushrooms, Thyme Oil

Risotto, Seasonal Mushrooms, Thyme Oil

Sugary Bites:

Bites by TRB: Berries, Yogurt, Mint Ice Cream

Berries, Yogurt, Mint Ice Cream

Bites by TRB: Chocolate + Milk Textures, Chocolate Mousse, Milk and Chocolate Foam

Chocolate + Milk Textures, Chocolate Mousse, Milk and Chocolate Foam

Bites by TRB: Creme Caramel, Blueberry Compote

Creme Caramel, Blueberry Compote

Additional Sweet Surprises:

Bites by TRB: Chocolate Mousse and Mint Ice Cream

Chocolate Mousse and Mint Ice Cream

Bites by TRB: Opera Cake and Macaroon Bites

Opera Cake and Macaroon Bites

Bites by TRB: Madeleines

Madeleine Pastries

“Whether visiting for lunch, dinner or the new TRB Bites weekend brunch, guests will be able to enjoy the multi-course TRB Bites experience at any time: RMB 188/248/288 for any 3/4/5 courses of their choice. The full opening also heralds the addition of an Express Lunch menu of any two courses from a selection of appetizer, main course and dessert options. The lunch menu is available from 11:30 am to 2 pm for RMB 98 per person.”

During our visit mid-September, we noticed a couple of quirks, as you would expect as it is pretty damn busy. Service is new and adjusting but by no means is it bad, but don’t expect the same level of attention as TRB itself (just yet anyway). I just don’t think I’ll ever get used to seeing Ignace wearing an untucked shirt – yes, you heard me right. His formal attire that you’ve been used to seeing him strutting in TRB has been toned down substantially, which is great for him but admittedly weird for me.

Ok, you have now successfully completed reading this article, which means that you should take 2 minutes to pick up your phone and book a reservation right now.

Bites by TRB Contact Details:

  • Address: 95 Donghuamen Dajie, East Gate of the Forbidden City
  • Chinese Address: 东华门大街95号 (故宫东门)
  • Tel: +8610 6401 6676
  • Opening Hours: Open Every Day, 11:30AM-10:30PM
  • Email: bites@trb-cn.com
  • Website: www.trb-bites.com

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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