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Making France's day

By Mike Peters | China Daily | Updated: 2017-07-18 07:30

Making France's day

Fish tartare with crunch vegetable and passion fruit. [Photo provided to China Daily]

A recently opened bistro in Beijing celebrates the best of the country's favorite foods, Mike Peters reports.

The French celebrated their national day on the weekend, an occasion that inspires plenty of Champagne-swilling and fine dining. But since the spirit of Bastille Day suggests a movement away from the Versailles-ish lifestyle, it's a good time of year to explore French food that's a little less gilded.

Which is not to say less delicious. Beijing's French restaurant scene has long favored the chandeliered style, but several excellent bistro-type eateries have opened in the capital lately. The latest is Bistro 108, tucked in a new dining street just opposite the US embassy and a stone's throw from the French.

The joys of a recent visit began for us in a glass: The house rose, not too dry and not too sweet, made for a smooth aperitif that also paired nicely with the seafood and duck dishes that came later. It's a mere bagatelle on the bill at 25 yuan ($3.70) a glass. The restaurant represents the J.P. Chenet winery in China, giving it an exclusive opportunity to offer that value.

Our recent visit began with a small plate of hot-from-the-oven baguette, including some slices with a crispier crust. The restaurant orders the bread from outside half-baked, our server tells us, and then pops it into the oven to be finished. There is, of course, real butter to go with it.

Our starter choice was the most popular one, judging from a quick look around the small eatery. The cast-iron skillet of fruits de mer (of the sea) included tender squid, scallops, shrimps and some delectable tiny clams, fried with white wine and whipping cream flavored with fine herbs. It's 58 yuan and generous enough to share if you're also trying to save room for dessert.

Mains were as sensational as local magazine reviews suggested they'd be.

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