It took seven years for Melbourne-born restaurateur Michelle Garnaut
(owner and founder of the legendary M on the Fringe in Hong Kong
and Shanghai’s most popular restaurant M on the Bund) to make
Capital M a reality. The results appear to have been well worth the
effort.

Housed in a traditional building at the entrance to Beijing’s historic
Qianmen Street, its location could hardly be more prestigious.
Thankfully the designers of the space have been clever to adapt the
interior to its surroundings, and Capital M exudes a stately
confidence; a glamorous yet understated style very different from the
ultra-chic pink and black hues of M on the Bund or the relaxing, rustic
shades of M at the Fringe. A black and white parquet floor runs
through the bar and dining rooms, setting off the bold mural that
decorates the back wall. The north-facing windows afford superb
views of Zhengyanmen and Tiananmen Square, while open fires
punctuate both the bar and the main dining room – a stylish addition
with added appeal as the city plunges into winter.

Dinner at Capital M is, therefore, something of an event, and any meal
here should be preceded by an expertly-made cocktail in the bar
overlooking the Square. M could easily be pretentious but, like its
Australian proprietor, it has a frivolous, down-to-earth side. The menu,
grounded in seasonal tastes, will change every few months. The twice-
cooked pigeon with boudin noir and Harissa (¥112) is tender, well
presented and satisfyingly crispy on the outside. The dish even
comes with a finger bowl so you don’t feel uncouth gnawing on the
bones to get to every last delicious mouthful. Of the main courses, the
most popular item has proved to be the crispy suckling pig, done with
roasted root vegetables and apple sauce. The pig comes almost
Chinese style, with a substantial layer of fat cushioning the meat and
top layer of crispy skin, but it’s good and juicy as a result. However,
while the starter portion of soup is on the small (if sensible) side, the
slow-baked, salt-encased leg of lamb with smashed yams, sautéed
spinach and sweet glazed shallots has the opposite problem.
Our favorite appetizer was the tortelli with pumpkin, ricotta and
mustard fruits (¥98), served with crispy sage and butter sauce with
hints of citrus. The hothouse-smoked salmon served with sautéed
spinach and an organic poached egg (¥248), while certainly healthy,
was a little bland. The risotto with mushrooms, mascarpone and rocket
(¥188) had a much richer flavor and is a good choice for a chilly night.

After the view, the most impressive thing about M is the grand dessert
platter (¥108/person). The two tiers of sweets include an outstanding
crème brulee and a large slice of M’s famous pavlova, deliciously
accentuated with passion fruit sauce. A wonderful place for a cocktail,
special dinner or even Sunday brunch, Capital M is quite simply a
treat from start to finishThe Capital M restaurant in Beijing

Capital M_View of Zhengyanmen GateCapital M's lounge area

Capital M_ M's signature pavlova dessert

Capital_M_-_smoked_salmon

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