French food has long been considered one of the world’s best cuisines, not just because of its attention to the provenance of its ingredients, but also because its techniques, though difficult to execute, are studied globally for reliably delivering excellent cooking, no matter the cuisine. At Petrus, the refined Provençal eatery considered the “star restaurant” of the Legendale Hotel, according to Restaurant Manager Glen Gao, the same care in selecting only the best items, and precision in executing traditional techniques, upholds the standards with which French food is synonymous.
The Executive Chef, Patrick Perie, is himself from Provence, a region in southwestern France on the Mediterranean Sea that shares a border with Italy and is famous for its culinary traditions. This blessed location integrally informs the local cuisine, which incorporates seafood from its plentiful coastline, lamb and goats that graze along the rugged landscape, and regional produce such as olives and olive oil, garlic, and robust grapes and apples, a result of the warm, dry Mediterranean climate.
All these elements make star appearances in a dining experience at Petrus. Consider the complimentary Amuse-Bouches, which in French means, literally, to “amuse the mouth,” and are provided before the meal begins in fine French restaurants. On the night BFIC dined at Petrus, Chef Perie presented sardines, a fish popular in Provence, prepared in two ways. One was a “very traditional” Escabeche, which had been marinated in a balsamic reduction and then served cold; the other, wrapped around an almond paste before receiving a quick pan searing. The flavors were distinctive and precise, a sharp, exciting way to wake up our taste buds before digging into the meal.
As an entrée, we were directed to Le Foie Gras (175rmb), a delicate duck liver terrine that incorporated a cherry brandy and was classically combined with ingredients of varying acidity and sweetness to create exciting flavor contrasts. Fixings on the plate included slices of tart green Granny Smith apples, both fresh and marinated in a vinegar chutney, and which helped undercut the richness of the foie; and sweet little raisons to add some chewy texture to the paste.
Lamb, or Le Agneau (310rmb), came as loin, medallions of which were roasted and then surrounded by a light spinach-chicken mousse, before getting wrapped in Japanese seaweed and caul fat, which is a light membrane used in sausages that helps rolls such as this retain their form. Clearly, the Chef here has spent years studying ageless French techniques, for dishes such as this are rarely found in “contemporary” French restaurants today.
The desserts are unforgettable, and the menu is unforgiving: it will be difficult to choose. Both the Berry parfait, part of this month’s Provençal set menu promotion (lunch 198rmb plus 15%, dinner 388rmb plus 15%), and the Tiramisu cup were decadent and creamy, resulting in bite after bite of lip-licking luxury.
Like the time-honored dishes featured on the menu, the interior of the restaurant, if not the entire hotel, which is located on historic Jinbao Street, is reminiscent of traditional French sophistication. Like the France of Louis XIV, no expenses have been spared, and in the restaurant that means blue velvet seats, fixtures and trimmings gilded in real gold, and the
famous Christofle silverware imported from France. An extensive wine list covers all the bases in terms of the most exclusive varietals and labels, including Haut-Brion and LaFitte, with prices beginning at 728rmb for a Latour Pinot Noir ’06. The service is well trained and careful, without seeming too fussy. Ambience is quiet but delicate, and though some of the innovation and fusion seen in contemporary French cooking is absent at Petrus, that is entirely intentional. All in all, this is an upmarket experience, and only time-tested traditions are being served here.
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Location(s) #90-92 Jinbao Street, Legendale Hotel Beijing 90-92
Tel:(86 10) 8511-3388 Beijing