The Courtyard is Again Reborn As TRB Bites@The Courtyard
Earlier this year, the Beijing food scene was shocked by Brian McKenna’s out of the blue announcement to close the Courtyard and then shocked again by TRB’s equally out of the blue announcement that they would take over the stunning location. Out of the ashes was born TRB Bites@The Courtyard.
“Reinventing a venue that has played home to many legendary dining institutions, TRB Bites is a convivial refuge that we refer to as “A Casual and Modern Eatery”: where we envision our guests enjoying themselves in a relaxed and chic setting while we serve up tasty treats that are prepared with passion.” – TRB Bites@The Courtyard
Enter the restaurant, situated by the East gate of the Forbidden City, and you will be shocked at how different it feels compared to previously. None of the changes made are in themselves shocking, but the cumulative effect is indeed profound.
TRB Bites feels light, airy and open even at night. It still has the excellent views of it’s predecessor and the small terrace is lovely for an early evening apéritif.
LDS Snapshots of Bites by TRB:
TRB Bites has Maintained the Same Grand Entrance
Look for this Sign on the East Gate of the Forbidden City
Same Kitchen Layout as The Courtyard but what appears to be a bigger team
Fully Booked Soft Opening Night
Waiting/Break Area on the Rooftop Terrace
“The restaurant’s driving concept is dining without the inhibition, meaning guests are free to relax and experience the menu free from the rules guiding more traditional establishments. TRB Bites strives to present its guests with a constantly updated choice of new takes on classic Western dishes, which incorporate Chinese culinary heritage and the fresh local produce to deliver a dining experience unique to the Chinese capital.”
Soft-Opening 5-Course Menu Dishes
We sampled almost everything on the menu, and what I can unequivocally tell you is that in this soft opening stage (prices may change for the official opening), TRB Bites is one of the best value meals you will eat anywhere in the world. 5 courses for 288RMB is a steal. Go ASAP!
You can at the moment – until I believe the end of September – mix any of the courses and enjoy everything they have to offer. That means you can just get 5 of their “hearty bites” if you’re feeling ambitious or whatever mishmash combo of dishes as you see fit.
From our extensive tasting, I’d like to highlight a few dishes that really stood out to us. And unless you come in a group of 6 as we did, you’ll have to limit your selection down to 3, 4, or 5 dishes.
Scallop Tartare with Potato Cheese Foam – delicate, piquant and elegantly presented.
Bone Marrow with Snails- I would lick the plate clean on this one. Instead, we ordered another 2 of this dish so that I could have one entirely to myself and leave the other one for the rest of my foodie table.
Lamb Loin with Mustard Seed and Onion Jam- as good as it sounds and still exceeded our expectations with its tender texture and bursting flavors.
Duck Confit with Carrots – a lovely surprise as we did not expect this to be so spectacular. The traditional dish is a favorite, but this was a really special, unique adaption that just raised the bar on this French classic.
Marinated Bacon, Goat Cheese Macaroon + Crispy Rice Ball Bites
Amuse Bouche – Fried Shrimp and Small Bites
Lightly Bitten Starters:
Gravlax, Beet Root Cream, Vinaigrette
Scallop Tartare, Potato Cheese Foam
Bone Marrow, Snails, Garlic, Parsley
Bites from the Sea:
Sea Bass, Bell Pepper, Barbecue Fennel, Blue Cheese Foam
Bouillabaisse-style Fish Stew, Saffron Aioli
Mackerel, Herbs, Roasted Hazelnut, Tomato
Snapper Chorizo, White Bean Puree, Almond Sauce
Chicken, Vanilla Pea Puree, Crushed Peas
Veal Tenderloin, Crayfish, Seasonal Vegetables
Duck and Carrot Texture, Wheat Berries, Curried Raisins
Lamb Loin, Mustard Seeds, Onion Jam
Belgian Style Blood Sausage, Dates, Onions
Pork, Purple Potato, Seasonal Vegetables
Bites from the Garden:
Risotto, Seasonal Mushrooms, Thyme Oil
Berries, Yogurt, Mint Ice Cream
Chocolate + Milk Textures, Chocolate Mousse, Milk and Chocolate Foam
Creme Caramel, Blueberry Compote
Additional Sweet Surprises:
Chocolate Mousse and Mint Ice Cream
Opera Cake and Macaroon Bites
After what TRB Bites calls their “educational soft-opening period”, they will begin to launch full opening hours starting Monday, September 28. Open 7 days per week, their opening hours will start at 11:30 and serve until 10:30PM.
“Whether visiting for lunch, dinner or the new TRB Bites weekend brunch, guests will be able to enjoy the multi-course TRB Bites experience at any time: RMB 188/248/288 for any 3/4/5 courses of their choice. The full opening also heralds the addition of an Express Lunch menu of any two courses from a selection of appetizer, main course and dessert options. The lunch menu is available from 11:30 am to 2 pm for RMB 98 per person.”
During our visit mid-September, we noticed a couple of quirks, as you would expect as it is pretty damn busy. Service is new and adjusting but by no means is it bad, but don’t expect the same level of attention as TRB itself (just yet anyway). I just don’t think I’ll ever get used to seeing Ignace wearing an untucked shirt – yes, you heard me right. His formal attire that you’ve been used to seeing him strutting in TRB has been toned down substantially, which is great for him but admittedly weird for me.
Ok, you have now successfully completed reading this article, which means that you should take 2 minutes to pick up your phone and book a reservation right now.
Bites by TRB Contact Details:
Address: 95 Donghuamen Dajie, East Gate of the Forbidden City
Chinese Address: 东华门大街95号 (故宫东门)
Tel: +8610 6401 6676
Opening Hours: Open Every Day (Starting Sept 28), 11:30AM-10:30PM