Welcome to part thirty-two of the Must Tries Series, where I ask people working in the Beijing bar and restaurant business for the top picks from their menus. This time around we have Will Yorke from The Vineyard Cafe. Yorke is working on another yet-to-be-named establishment nearby, one that will focus primarily on English comfort food and beer, and hopes to have it open this weekend. For now, here are his picks.
What is the “must try” food at The Vineyard Cafe?
Mediterranean Pizza: Pretty conservative name but about eight years ago I put roasted aubergine and courgette slices, feta, basil pesto, mozzarella and salami (pepperoni) on a thin crust pizza base with tomato sauce and I still love it, especially with Tabasco sauce.
What is the “must try” drink at The Vineyard Cafe?
We have been doing cocktail training at the Vineyard Café for the last few Mondays and someone asked about a kamikaze shot. We made one to see what is was about and discovered it was better as a cocktail in a martini glass, and there is a nice lime presence with the vodka, fresh lime juice, Cointreau, and preserved lime juice mixed on ice. I think it is perfect to prevent scurvy. So much so that considering we thought the name kamikaze was really a crap name for a drink, and considering my training session on the treatment of scurvy in British naval recruits in 18th century Britain, which the staff attended with rapture, we decided to rechristen the drink “Limey Lady”.
What is the “must try” wine at The Vineyard Cafe?
Got in a nice new Albarino – very fresh. It’s like sticking your tongue in the Atlantic while facing a north-westerly breeze.
What are three “must try” items at other venues in Beijing?
1. On my way home there is a Beijing Lu Zhu 卤煮 place which also does good La Mian 拉面 and 刀削面 Dao Xiao Mian (the knife cut noodles.) I am a big fan of Dao Xiao Mian. The vibe is interesting as it is a wide mix of mainly Beijing residents ranging from couples coming in to get to know each other over a bowl of soy sauce stewed inner bits and blue uniformed taxi drivers with the name of their company stitched on the chest thinning their blood with the unpeeled garlic bulbs on the table amongst the metal pot of chilly and jug of vinegar. 141 Bei Si Da Jie.
2. I really don’t get out much, but for a “Sichuan cuisine a’ la Beijing” option the No. 1 Wang Jing courtyard is always interesting. The 水煮鱼 fish in oil must have better options in the city, but in the warm period it is a place which is interesting because it is a slice of China embedded by a slip road on the east 5th ring road.
3. Many Monday evenings we are at our friend Toshi’s place “Suzumei”. I never used to eat raw fish before here, but I was enlightened here and their sashimi can be very satisfying for an essential oils fix.