The Woods opened last night as the newest restaurant in Central Park. And while nary a table remained unreserved when we arrived unscheduled for dinner, very polite general manager Ahmed Labib quickly arranged an area outside for us. A few tables, comfy patio chairs, a half-dozen wine glasses, heavy cutlery that doubled as paperweights given the at-times gusty Beijing evening, and we were all set.
We sipped through three bottles, including one of Kim Crawford Sauvignon Blanc (~rmb450) and two of Gaja ‘Promis’ Merlot, Syrah and Sangiovese (~750, if memory serves). That tends to swing the bill in favor of wine over food! Then we tucked into some mains, most of us opting for lamb chops (rmb98). These were good-sized, from Australia, nicely seasoned and sided with rosemary potatoes. A classic and tasty dish. The Australian gentlemen beside me ordered his with two fried eggs, and I decided to try the same, special requests The Woods ably handled. The lone patron ordering steak deemed it “good”. A man of few words.
Service at The Woods lagged at times but, to be fair, it was opening night, we had overextended the place by sitting outside and the staff generally did a decent job. Labib, fresh from Manhattan and with less than two months in Beijing under his belt, ably handed the wine and the diplomatic duties with patrons.
One drawback: no toilet. Rather than relieve yourself in The Woods, you need to make a hike into the park, a journey of 100-plus meters. On the bright side, that trip is an opportunity for a smoke / to walk off a few calories / to ponder whether or not a fourth bottle of wine is in order. / to fine-tune your plan for world peace.
I’ll return to The Woods soon to see it from the inside and to provide more details on the food and drink. For now, this place is open daily for dinner. Labib hopes to add lunch service in about a week.
Sample items from The Woods menu:
- White truffle parmigiano fries (rmb28)
- ‘The Woods’ summer gazpacho (rmb30)
- Spaghetti primavera (rmb45)
- Tuna tartare (rmb70)
- Roasted baby lamb chops (rmb98)
- Black truffle filet mignon (rmb260),