I’ve been spending more time (and money!) at Rosewood Beijing in recent months. I have to say that it has really emerged as one of Beijing’s BEST hotels. While I’ve never had the privilege to stay there, the F&B here is outstanding. My friends Giancarlo and Melanie often used to do staycations at Rosewood Beijing, and through them, I got to know the hotel better. Staying in one of the suites is totally worth it because you also get club floor access which is nearly as good as the public restaurants, not to mention with copies of the Financial Times and South China Morning Post!
During my birthday in September, I planned two different events at Rosewood. The first was a dinner at the always impressive Country Kitchen. I had last dined there during Chinese New Year and was eager to go back. What I LOVE about Country Kitchen:
Fantastic selection of must-try northern Chinese dishes. I’ve eaten A LOT of Chinese food over the years, and everything is flawlessly executed. I usually don’t eat dumplings, but the dumplings here are special for some reason.
Wine list. As much as I love Chinese restaurants, it’s tough to find one that serves drinks beyond local beer (although I do love my Yanjing!) and baijiu. Country Kitchen has an impressive wine list that helps create an entirely different atmosphere from most restaurants. It is a luxury hotel, and the prices aren’t, but it is SO nice to have the option!
Ambiance. The lighting in the restaurant at night automatically creates an intimate feeling. They really nailed the design! It’s soft lighting, and the windows here have a view of the CCTV tower that is located cattycorner. Whether you’re going on a romantic date or a group dinner with friends, it’s tough to find a competing restaurant with this vibe. The open kitchen concept also helps add some quiet energy to the dining room.
For my next birthday event, I hosted a Sunday brunch at Red Bowl, Rosewood’s hot pot restaurant. Red Bowl isn’t located in the main building of the hotel (were they worried about the hot pot smell interfering with the lobby? LOL) but is adjacent.
I’ve eaten at Red Bowl several times. To be clear, it’s not a cheap restaurant, especially at dinner. If you include drinks, a meal for two at dinner is easily 600 kuai.
Like Country Kitchen, Red Bowl wins on its design and extensive drink list. A few years ago they even made their own ginger beer which was SO good. They have some signature cocktails, though, that are really creative. And a huge selection of draft beers.
The main dining room is dark and romantic. If you don’t reserve in advance, they’ll seat you at a counter-concept in the back that just doesn’t have the same appeal as the main dining room. Red Bowl is unique because it almost has a club vibe. The only give away that it’s a hot pot restaurant is the steam rising off all the tables. That Sichuan broth scent that hits you when you first walk in is just mouthwatering!
To be honest, I think the menu selection here COULD be a bit improved. It’s quite seafood heavy, and I usually don’t eat a lot of seafood. The variety of meats is OK, but a bit limited. The fresh tofu is SO delicious and a must-try. I LOVE spicy food (I’m a New Mexican, after all) and I’m addicted to the spiciness of Sichuan, Hunan, Chongqing, and Guizhou. Locals are often impressed by my ability to handle whatever level of spiciness is thrown at me. Perhaps my only critique is that the Sichuan broth isn’t as spicy as I like. For my birthday brunch, I told my super sweet server, Alvin, to add more chilies. He did, and it helped. If you’re a hot pot newbie, the yuanyang version where you can get two different broths is the best choice. I also enjoy the mushroom broth.
So, why did I choose a Sunday brunch option? Good question! Red Bowl is closed at lunch during the week. But on weekends they offer a special unlimited hot pot and drinks. I seriously think it’s one of Beijing’s best-kept secrets. I worked with Ocean, the manager of the restaurant, to book a private dining room for my event. It was gorgeous! Alvin had served me on a previous occasion, and I requested that he handle our group of 12. He did a stellar job! Not only were our drinks topped up proactively (a rarity with often subpar service levels in Beijing!) but they also kept the food flowing! We left very, very satisfied!
I just had brunch at Bistrot B on Sunday. Adjacent to the lobby, Bistrot B has an area for drinks and afternoon tea and a full dining room. My last brunch at Bistrot B had been about two years ago, and it was outstanding. There was a free-flow champagne option and many choices from the brunch menu. Of the three restaurants I’m reviewing (there’s also a Cantonese restaurant on the second floor that I’ve never tried), Bistrot B is probably my least favorite – although still a winner.
Like Country Kitchen, it has an open kitchen concept. In the daytime, the lighting is quite lovely here. The dining room is LARGE, and there are moments where you have to hunt down a server. Bistrot B is more mass-market and likely geared to hotel guests that are having breakfast in the morning.
To my disappointment, Bistrot B had ended all of its former brunch menu’s. When they first opened, they used to have a decent set that included a “hangover” option of a Bloody Mary that was fantastic! Now, brunch is a la carte, pricey, and just not that innovative. To be fair, my blueberry pancakes and pumpkin soup were yummy, but not out-of-this-world. I do hope that Bistrot B will consider revamping their Sunday brunch as many longtime expats like myself have long regarded it as one of Beijing’s best brunches.
Rosewood Beijing (北京瑰丽酒店)
Location: Line 10, HuJiaLou, Exit D
English Menu: Yes
English Service: Yes