Authentic French Cuisine for the discerning diner.
While many modern restaurants have chosen the path of internationalism and the vogue of “fusion” cuisine, FLO Brasserie has maintained a strong focus on the traditional French dialect. Nestled in the house of a once Chinese Warlord, in the former Italian Concession, need for international reference seems unnecessary. FLO is a well-regarded brand that currently owns around 300 restaurants in Europe alone. The brand has expanded as far as Asia, with the FLO Brasserie of Beijing coming upon its 11th year anniversary.
Unlike the Beijing branch (located in Sanlitun), FLO Tianjin is housed in an actual historic building in the Italian concession. This French Brasserie, with its own long history, fits nicely into one of the side squares of the district. A small veranda looks out onto an enclosed square, which shelters the restaurant nicely from the busy Tianjin street 100 metres away. The first floor is decorated like the interior of an art neuveu café from 1920s Paris. Despite the disconnect between the location and the interior, the fantasy works perfectly. FLO Brasserie is the kind of restaurant you go to when you want to escape. The soft lighting, refinished rooms and glass partitions channels 1920s Paris so well I felt I’d stepped into a period piece. The lower floor, or wine cellar, has more romantic seating, with soft inlaid brick and couples seating. Those who wish to book it for Valentines Day will likely have to plan far in advance.
I began my meal with a Tour de la Roche Sauvignon Blanc. For those well-versed in French wine, FLO Brasserie has a generous selection of whites, reds, and champagnes. For those who are less comfortable with wine selection, or interested in learning, the wait-staff has been trained to recommend wines to complement each individual dish. As starters I enjoined Traditional Burgundy-style escargot (72 RMB), Home-made foie-gras terrine (98 RMB), and a Tuna avocado tartar with crustacean cream (89 RMB).
For me the starters were the most impressive of the entire meal. The tuna tartar was refreshing, while the addition of a light crustacean cream added a second softer interpretation on the same seafood. The amount of thought and careful eye towards editing can be seen in the presentation and flavour of each individual dish. For example, the heavier flavour of the foie-gras is counter-balanced by a fig chutney and playful sweet wine jelly.
Main course and dessert
Seafood is one of FLO’s strong suits. Fresh oysters, delivered twice a week from France, can be ordered individually or in sets. Of the soups I’d most recommend the mushroom truffle soup (58 RMB) and French Onion soup with Emmenthal cheese (48 RMB). The mushroom soup uses three different kinds of mushrooms to excellent effect. Despite being mixed together in a common cream soup, each individual breed preserved its unique flavour. And this is all coming from someone who typically hates cream soups.
For our main course I enjoined a Bouillabaisse with scallop, sea bass, tiger prawn, mussel, and codfish (176 RMB). The frothy tomato cream based broth did a good job of not overwhelming the seafood. The Australian Beef Tenderloin (288 RMB) is highly recommended for those connoisseurs of beef. My least favourite of the meal was the duck confit (136 RMB). The meat was a little too dry and salty. For dessert I ate a delicious chocolate fondant placed atop a chutney of orange peels (66 RMB). The combination of the slightly tart and bitter peels with the rich chocolate cream was heavenly.
French food can be heavy fare, but overall FLO balanced the richness of the food with fun presentation and creative side additions. FLO Brasserie is one of the first truly authentic French restaurants to hit Tianjin. In this sense their role is double, they must both appease those who already have an experienced palate and cater to new diners who have never eaten an authentic French meal. FLO Brasserie is appropriate for both schools of diners and everyone in between.
Service quality: excellent
Food quality: very good
Price per head (RMB): 200-300
Add: 37 Guangfu Dao, Italian Style Town, Hebei District, Tianjin
Tel: 022 2662 6688
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Keywords: FLO Brasserie Tianjin romantic restaurants in Tianjin French food in Tianjin fine dinning in Tianjin
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