What I wouldn’t give for a supermarket café. Imagine if Jingkelong offered a small diner-style space where you could snag a freshly made Chinese donut and a cup of green tea, settle atop a silver stool and chitchat with fellow shoppers. There’s something incredibly convenient and sensible about eating at a grocery store. That’s why I was thrilled when a Shunyi resident informed me Jenny Wang’s in Pinnacle Plaza opened a restaurant. I pictured Jenny’s enterprise as being a lively, brightly lit deli with a green interior and shelves of freshly baked bread. It might smell like cake batter and stock organic juices and cream sodas in a buzzing fridge.
But Jenny’s Hidden Cellar was dark and dusty. Beams of light over-exposed stuffy, white tablecloths and wine racks through kitschy, white window screens. Its menu, christened with the phrase “Life’s Simple Luxuries” was a familiar one – a grab bag of steaks, pastas and cuisines from around the world.
I was halfway through my confused American “fragrant-fried” spring chicken (RMB 68), prepared rotisserie-style and presented with the head still intact, when the chef admitted they actually had no affiliation with their supermarket neighbor.
With that cleared up, however, I was able to appraise Jenny’s without my grand, mom and pop diner expectations. Strictly speaking, the place wasn’t so bad. Their house carbonara (RMB 48) was addictively salty and creamy, the homemade bread and butter pudding (RMB 32) had a luscious layer of caramelized sugar crystals, and their waitstaff left me complaint-free.
When I saw their plastic to-go bags, printed so boldly and plainly with “Jenny’s” in blue capital letters, I realized that underneath its farcical fanciness, Jenny’s Hidden Cellar can do the basics. A hungry grocery shopper doesn’t need much more than that. Jessica Rapp
Jenny’s Hidden Cellar
Daily 10.30am-10.30pm. 2/F, Pinnacle Plaza (next to Jenny Wang), Yuyang Lu, Tianzhu,
Shunyi District (8046 2836)
1km southeast of China International Exhibition Center station (Line 15)
This post first appeared on thebeijinger.com on June 22, 2014
Photo courtesy of thebeijinger.com