Beijing’s modern East-meets-West spot
Brassiere 1893 at Waldorf Astoria Beijing is as much about culinary innovation as it is about paying due heed to the hotel brand’s fine-dining heritage. 1893 was the year the first Waldorf Astoria opened in New York, with its trendsetting restaurant run by legendary maître d'hôtel Oscar Tschirky. “Oscar of the Waldorf” is said to be the creator of the Waldorf salad and eggs Benedict as we know it. The lively, glamorous restaurant takes subtle cues from the Waldorf’s history with its menu and décor, but its fare is firmly planted in the present.
Executive chef Benoit Chargy is the man behind the menu at Brasserie 1893, which reads as a playful mix of modern American cuisine fused with pan-Asian and European influences, with more than a nod to past glories. Yes, Chargy has a Waldorf salad, but this delightfully deconstructed riff features duck confit, a tasty nod to Peking’s signature bird, given texture by caramelized walnuts and crunchy organic apple. Eggs Benedict is available at breakfast and brunch, naturally, but Chargy also serves an omelette Beijing-style, stuffed with a spicy minced pork filling in tribute to the savory buns and dumplings found street-side throughout the capital.
A roster of playful mains includes deceptively elaborate plays on hotel classics like a club sandwich with gently poached chicken and crisp bacon on house-baked multigrain toast. Asian hits include a warming Cantonese egg noodles dish, fried with plump king prawns and plenty of shredded ginger. But it’s on the grill where the food really comes into its own — and what a grill. Two of them, actually: A pair of bespoke Italian Molteni cooking ranges (each larger than most domestic kitchens) sits at the heart of the dining space so you can sit back and enjoy the show. It’s the perfect send-off for the richly marbled wagyu steak (tenderloin or sirloin) grilled to juicy perfection for two to share and served with North American sides like butternut pumpkin, sautéed corn and creamed mash potatoes.
Working for more than a decade as a pastry chef, Chargy really shines in the desserts department, like his signature red velvet cake topped with yogurt sherbet, almond crumble and a slick of passion fruit. It comes in two varieties: traditional style with beets or sweetened with red bean to suit local palates. Indulgence is the watchword here, especially when it comes to the moist double chocolate brownie served over chestnut cream, or the New York cheesecake with strawberry and rhubarb compote.
Treading a decorative line between grand dame and contemporary, the Beijing restaurant mixes heavy silverware and high ceilings with minimalist floral arrangements and a bright, light aesthetic. This is a dining experience designed around the theater of food, with each table arranged around the central open kitchen and its pair of magnificent royal blue cooking ranges. Business causal in appeal, Brassiere 1893 attracts an upscale crowd accustomed to top-of-the-line power lunches.