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Glamour plate

By Mike Peters ( China Daily ) Updated: 2014-04-19 10:59:37

Glamour plate

Parnas restaurant in Beijing offers diners everything tres elegant, from the tableware to the bathroom fittings. Photo Provided to China Daily

The glitzy aura of Parnas can be a little much, Mike Peters discovers, but the kitchen's French fare offers some of the best bites in Nali Patio.

It's easy to get distracted at Parnas, and that's no accident. In the space that was formerly Saddle, which famously produced Mexican food and tequila hangovers as the lowbrow Party Central of Sanlitun's Nali Patio, Parnas has scraped away that old scene as efficiently as a swarm of locusts.

In its place is a grand edifice, where classical Greek pillars and Russian investors and French cuisine come together in a show of opulence that could make Donald Trump whimper.

The effect might seemed subdued in the pleasant low-light ambience if not for an immense globe-shaped chandelier glittering above us in the second-floor restaurant. "Did we miss Marie Antoinette's estate sale?" one of my companions murmurs.

Everything from the tableware to the bathroom fittings is tres elegant. On a stage set like that, you'd almost expect the menu to be a floss job, too. But the deep purse that's apparent behind the show here has been brilliantly employed in the kitchen.

Our first course, the seafood tian, was a carefully crafted column of fresh crab, scallops, shrimp and clams with mango flakes. In the playful plating, it's afloat in a pool of chilled gazpacho, and the soup's spicy tomato edge is a fine, savory complement for the seafood.

Such artful exuberance can feel like mere artifice, but most dishes are so fresh and delicious that they rise above the molecular-gastronomy froufrou that may sometimes inspire them.

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