There are only two weeks left before DiningCity's Restaurant Week returns to Beijing, so I'd advise hopping over to the Restaurant Week website to make reservations now. The week-long dining event brings over 40 of the city's best restaurants together to offer lunches for RMB78/118, and dinners for RMB178/248. I've only seen the full menus for about a third of the venues, but already I'm very excited about Mosto and Modo (which both won "Best Restaurant" in their respective price categories in last year's Restaurant Week. Modo's spinach ricotta malfati are pictured here.), as well as Capital M and Ellingen Brauhaus. As well as great deals on gourmet meals, online booking (and later on, reviewing the menus) enters you into competitions to win lucky draw prizes and even a free Kyboe! Watch, valued at more than RMB2,000.
In other news, last week I tried out Xuxian Lou's rooftop. It's been open about a month but has gone very under the radar. This rooftop is absolutely stunning, with great design and beautiful views. The cocktails are pretty good, and there's a very respectable bar menu. I loved the mini-burger, made with rocket, cheese (cheddar, I think), and topped with two fried quail eggs. Continuing the quail egg feast, the QQ's quail eggs are a great bar snack, with a whole basket of the mini eggs alongside Chinese-style spices for dipping. The rooftop doesn't open until 9pm, though, so this is quite late dining.
I also visited Southern Barbarian last week. The ambiance is quite chic and sophisticated for the hutongs, and the bathroom is much, much nicer than when the space was Yunnan restaurant Haney. Southern Barbarian's food is pretty simple--the Yunnanese owner is really going for homestyle fare--and very good value. What really sets this place apart is the drinks. The beer list is insane, and includes a lot of beers imported personally by the owner. The cocktail list wasn't ready when we visited, but the "basil drop" we tried was absolutely delicious.
I went over to the new incarnation of former Shuangjing restaurant The Loop last night. The decor is great, with clean white walls and furniture and the most adorable patterned napkins ever. The food is just okay--to be honest, I thought it was a bit overpriced and could do with more exciting flavors, but I did like the tapas (RMB40 for six pieces). What stands out here much more is the wine list, which is very international and quite reasonably priced.
And in new restaurants and wine places I haven't tried yet, there's Cru Wine Bar over by the youth hostel on Chunxiu Lu, and a new sushi place somewhere in Sanlitun called Mermaid Sushi that I'll be visiting tomorrow for lunch.