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>> The Courtyard
Donghua Men Lu 95,
If you read the food magazines, this may be the one Beijing restaurant you know. Owned by a Chinese-American lawyer with family roots in Beijing, the CourtYard serves admirable fare but wins the most accolades for its setting, in a restored courtyard-style house next to the Forbidden City. The house's gray brick exterior still blends with its old Beijing surroundings, but inside is a different world: modernist white and glass, with tall art-hung walls and a beckoning staircase that leads to a contemporary art gallery in the basement. The fare isn't genuine fusion; dishes are recognizably Occidental or Oriental with only token mixing of styles, but they're delectable nonetheless. Fois gras brulee, cashew-crusted lamb chop, and black cod with tomato marmalade are longtime favorites. The tender grilled chicken breast in lemon grass and coconut curry is superb, justifying rave reviews almost by itself. The wine list is more comprehensive and well thought out than anything this side of Hong Kong, with a surprisingly large number available by the glass. An intimate cigar lounge upstairs, furnished with leather couches, looks out across the Forbidden City's eastern moat.
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