Today AMM and I took some friends out for Sunday Lunch. The restaurant we chose was not a typical Chinese dim sum restaurant, nor was it in one of the restaurants in the big 5 star hotels which offer special Sunday Brunch buffets each weekend.
Unleashing my inner South African, we opted for a restaurant called Pinotage, the only South African restaurant in Beijing –as far as I know it is the only South African restaurant in China.
Pinotage originally started life as a wine importing business, but the owner decided that as his office/wine warehouse came with a large room and terrace overlooking an ornamental lake, and had a kitchen attached, he should start a restaurant on the premises. People could come for a meal, taste the SA wines he was promoting, and hopefully order a few cases. And the wine is certainly worth it, the selection is very comprehensive, the wine has been correctly stored (sometimes this can be a problem with wine bought in China) and prices very reasonable indeed. Needless to say we brought a couple of cases back with us in the taxi after lunch!
The restaurant is a large room with dark walls decorated with artifacts from South Africa, and a long sunny terrace running the length of the room – although being mid-winter it was far too cold to be outside. Tables are well spaced so that although the place was busy and had a lively buzz, we never felt crowded.
The menu is shortish, but has many typical South African dishes, such as Bobotie, Bunny Chow, Piri Piri Prawns and a Chicken and Apricot potje. Needless to say there is a lot of meat on the menu, Surf ‘n Turf, Lamb shanks, and a mixed grill of steak, lamb chops and boerewors – with pap and chakalaka on the side. Everything was beautifully presented and absolutely delicious – I must admit that I wouldn’t have thought of Bunny Chow being served as a smart modern restaurant dish, but the way the chef presented it was perfect. Desserts included a truly wicked looking flourless chocolate cake, Bread & Butter pudding, or Melk Tart. Or you could opt – as I did – for a Kahlua Dom Pedro.
Our friends, William, Wu Qi and their two sons, have lived in Beijing for years but had never been to Pinotage, which pleased me as I wanted to introduce them to something totally different.
William is THE expert on Chang Cheng aka The Great Wall of China, he is the author of several highly regarded books about it, and he and Wu Qi have farmhouses alongside an un-restored section of the Wall north of Beijing where you can stay for a weekend and go on specially guided hikes along TGWC and learn the history, stories, myths and legends as well as being shown how it was constructed. The Great and the Good from all over the world have stayed with them. If you are ever contemplating a trip to China, do consider including a weekend with William and Wu Qi as part of your itinerary.
Lai Guang Ying Donglu 9 hao, Lane Bridge Villas, Wanjing, Chaoyang District, Beijing
Tel: +86 016430-7010