Family Outing: Season Café / Creperie
Art offers its own rewards, but if you need a sweetener to sell a family excursion to 798, consider a pit stop at Season Café / Creperie. Simple, fun and easy to eat, crepes are the ultimate Gallic comfort food, a staple of French childhood. Here, the savory galettes au sarrazin (buckwheat crepes) come with fillings classic (ham and cheese) and novel (bacon, scrambled eggs, fresh tomatoes and cheese). Perfect for dessert or for an afternoon goûter, the sweet, wheat flour versions can be ordered with honey (RMB 22) and Nutella (RMB 25). The restaurant sits down a quiet alley and its lack of pretension appeals to gallery-weary families.
There are touristy shots of Brittany on the walls, bad French rock plays on the stereo, and the only concession to fine art is a predictable Van Gogh landscape – an homage to the creperie’s French founder, also named Vincent. On a recent visit, a mother and baby danced, the garrulous chef passed out toys, and one couple, proud of having exposed their kids to contemporary art and French food in a single day, celebrated with a bottle of Breton cider (RMB 120) served in traditional mugs.
Daily 10.30am-7pm. 2 Jiuxianqiao Lu (beside China Art Seasons), Dashanzi Art District, Chaoyang District (8456 4823) 北京季节咖啡店, 朝阳区酒仙桥路2号院内
Date Night: Len Len
Behind a massive wooden door on an otherwise bleak street is an improbable haven from the daily grind. Follow the long hallway’s underlit, translucent panels around the corner and into the vast interior of this sleek restaurant, built around an atrium buttressed by a bamboo maze. Welcome to your private club, an oasis of elegance and refinement where nearly every table is in its own room or secluded tatami area. Anxieties about work, kids, the headlines recede when the sake appears, and relaxation turns to exhilaration with your first bite of exquisite salmon sashimi (RMB 68) or rich grilled mackerel (RMB 35). After that, you’re on your own – figuratively, of course, though the unobtrusive service makes it easy to focus on your partner and plan the next step. Broiled, buttery cuts of marbled beef with leek (RMB 78), perhaps? Or a sushi roll of sweet grilled eel floating atop crunchy shrimp tempura and soft avocado (RMB 85). Take your time. The world outside the wooden door will go on without you.
Daily 6pm-12.30am. 1/F, Ziming Dasha, 12B Xinzhong Jie (west of Chunxiu Lu near north side of Sun City), Chaoyang District. (6415 6415/6416) 联联, 朝阳区新中街乙12号紫铭大厦1层（春秀路西，阳光都市北）