Velvet’s Showcases Rare Desert Vegetables in this Black Squid Ink Paella
Before reading this blogpost, you probably already had a bad impression of Velvet. First opened as a restaurant-patisserie with a lot of fancy-pantsy velvet chairs and a menu serving everything from Mediterranean “snacks” to Asian fusion dishes, everything about the concept seemed random, all-over-the-place and one of those restaurants that would be closed before I even got around to trying it.
Fast forward a few years later since it first opened in 2013, Velvet has had a major facelift. I don’t know when this facelift actually took place, but I think it’s relatively recent because the Head Chef I met has only been in Beijing for a few months. Honestly, what I experienced just last week was a phenomenal dining experience and I can’t believe that no one seems to even realize that Velvet still exists and that it’s nothing like it was when it first opened.
First off, Velvet’s Head Chef Alberto Becerril takes the time to greet every table and shake each diners’ hand and personally ensures a hospitable and personable dining experience (the best kind!). He introduces each dish that comes to your table and maneuvers his way around the restaurant between all his guests flawlessly.
Secondly, Velvet’s menu and dining concept is around Gastrobotany, a new concept in the gourmet field that explores the use of unusual plant populations that are often left out or unknown by most other restaurants. Apparently, they’ve even hosted Michelin Chef Rodrigo de la Calle (founder of Gastrobotany cuisine) to spend some time in their kitchen. How no one seems to know this happened is beyond me.
Velvet is like Beijing’s best secret. When my foodie friends suggested a nice night out at Velvet, I believed it to be yet another “Western” restaurant that would suffer on for a little while, putting out overpriced food, before closing without fanfare. But what I’ve realized since my dining experience is that if Velvet ever closes, it will be because Velvet remained unknown to too many for too long and no one ever helped put Velvet on the Beijing dining map.
So here is my selfless contribution for Velvet – “Hurry People and GOOOOOOO!!
LDS Snapshots of Velvet Tapas Bar:
Exterior: 1st Floor of Nali Patio (Originally Let’s Burger’s Location Way Back When)
Busy Wednesday Evening
Without a clear doorway (the doors look the same as the windows), waitstaff standby for oncoming customers to receive and welcome
Curved Bar Seating by the Entrance of Velvet
Fresh Flowers Galore add to the Fantastical Ambiance of the Venue
The decor is a point of question and it’s certainly not for everyone. There seems to be a quirky kind of Pan’s Labyrinth theme going on, which is kind of artsy and cool, but I personally wasn’t a fan. Seemed to try too hard to be unique when people need to realize less is more. Ultimately though, all of this is immaterial. What makes or breaks a place is ultimately the food and the food at Velvet is damn good.
The dishes are uniquely creative, it’s beautifully presented and the taste of everything fully surpassed my expectations.
LDS Snapshots of Dinner at Velvet:
Velvet: Welcome Bread Basket (Sun-Dried Tomato was the best)
Cone of Sea Urchin, Guacamole, Mango and Wax Apple (RMB 40)
Sturgeon Ceviche with Passion Fruit (RMB 36)
Quinoa Croquettes with Chipotle Chili (RMB 38)
Lichen, Cream of Fungi, Seaweed (RMB 42)
Creamy Baby Squid Rice with Black Ink Sauce and Desert Vegetables (RMB 220)
Chilean Volcano Wagyu in Beijing Style (RMB 270)
Cream of Pumpkin with Ginger Ice Cream (RMB 46)
Cheese Cake with Berries (RMB 55)
Foodie Double Date!
In conclusion, Velvet was a really, really tasty surprise. The decor leaves something to be desired, but you aren’t here to eat the walls.
The kitchen is very professional and is producing incredible food. Lucky for me, my foodie friends had met Chef Alberto at Migas’ Fideuà de Gandía Competition, who was delighted to take all decision-making power and serve us his recommendations from start to finish. Since the menu was quite extensive, we were all more than happy with everything we were served and was totally blown away by that Chilean Volcano Wagyu (see above).
And to finish strong, the desserts are some of the best in Beijing. The ginger ice cream hidden inside the pumpkin cream and cheesecake creation will live long in memory.
The food is innovative and decently portioned. The final bill was about RMB 350 per person and that includes a RMB 450 bottle of red wine.
Nali Patio has managed to inculcate another gem, here’s hoping this one survives longer than many of the other casualties.
Velvet by Verde Contact Details:
Address: (next to Kenny’s Burgers) 1st Floor D108 of Nali Patio, #81 North Sanlitun Street, Chaoyang District
Chinese Address: 三里屯北街81号那里花园一层D108
Tel: 5208 6199