Classic French cuisine is a broad term and hard to describe, however at W Dine &Wine in Chaoyang, the true quintessential home-style “classic” French cuisine is available for all to sample and enjoy in a unique presentation and chic atmosphere. Located across from the Canadian Embassy is this hip and stylish bistro offering absolutely exquisite fare such as goose liver tureen, the freshest and tastiest scallops and a wonderful selection of wines all at a modest price. All of this certainly makes W a stand-out among French restaurants, but there is a new star at the restaurant that demands your notice, the cocotte.
The cocotte is simply a cast iron pot, similar to what one would picture a casserole in, however simple is not the term to be used to describe the wonderfully complex and delicious offerings available in these little round dishes. The concept is actually amazingly simple and tremendously fun in that it evokes all of the joys of dining out from a high-brow tasting menu concept to the homegrown comfort food that mom used to make. “We decided to introduce the cocotte concept in Beijing as dining today has become increasingly casual, intimate and interactive,” said Geoffrey. “The perfect meal for me today is sharing a range of cocotte dishes with friends over great wine. The cocotte is not just practical; it’s also very modern and a great presentation piece.”
The cocottes are cleverly color coded to aid you in choosing your selections – yellow, red and black. Yellow designates your starches, such as the lovely red win risotto and white beans with smoky bacon. The red, signifying the vegetable portions, brings you such French dishes as ratatouille; that deliciously simple dish of earthy vegetables concoction of eggplant, tomato and bell peppers. Finally, you can select meat dishes delivered in the black pots. Some of the offerings being tender osso bucco, a wonderful salmon lasagna or a hearty lamb stew are wonderful in that you can pick a small portion of your favorite delights. The challenge lies in how many can you order in one sitting.
French food for most people is mysterious and difficult to order, albeit sexy. Most of us only know the more common incarnations such as escargot and pate and are amiss to branch out into the equally enjoyable creations simply by lack of knowledge. The cocotte presentation of small samplings make it easy to thoroughly enjoy trying “the rest” of French cuisine; a dinner for two can easy involve three to four cocottes without leaving you feeling heavy. In a similar way you can look at it from, dare I say a Chinese approach of ordering less quantity and more flavorful dishes. I feel calling this a concept takes away from its true appeal, that is, enjoying as much as you can of something new.
Offering rich and wonderfully prepared dishes alongside a moderately priced wine selection is something W certainly succeeds at doing. The cocotte or little casserole has even been extended to the brunch menu, something that is on my list for certain. Add in a business lunch at under 100RMB and a light and delicate dessert menu and you can beat this restaurant.
Location(s) 22-1 Dongzhimenwai Dajie, opposite Canadian Embassy
Tel:010-6416-9838 Beijing, 11
Service quality: excellent
Food quality: excellent
Price per head (RMB): 200-300
Environment: very good
Feature dish or menu: cocotte