As one of the pioneers of Beijing’s fledgling organic industry, The Rug’s original Chaoyang Park location was known for its fresh-squeezed juices, coffee, and organic produce. While the Chaoyang Park location was designed with kids in mind, the chic second branch in Sanlitun places the same value on freshness while offering a more convenient location for families living in the area.
With a minimalistic design, the two-story space has an overall modern feel. Long wooden tables, exposed pipes, contemporary lighting, private glass-fronted dining rooms upstairs, and two bars serving wine, coffee, and juice make up the restaurant. On the first level, adjacent to the sliding-glass-door entrance is a spacious dining area with large and colorful wooden tables – ideal for families. Leather loveseats and low chairs surround the tables and come with plenty of plush pillows. Our model, Kaelyn Hepburn (age 6), puts the pillows to good use as a booster seat.
While we wait for Kaelyn’s food to arrive, she teaches the grown-ups how to play iPad games and shows off her impressive drawing skills, narrating us a story for each picture. Though Kaelyn is a dual citizen of the US and the Philippines, she was born in Beijing and speaks fluent putonghua. Dad Kevin Hepburn explains that Kaelyn attends the international department of Jincheng Primary School but spent the majority of her schooling as the sole laowai in class.
When the food arrives, it’s clear that Kaelyn brings an appetite to the table. Though she takes her time eating, she manages to polish off both the crispy chicken strips breaded in shredded almonds (RMB 29) and homemade spaghetti bolognese (RMB 25). Both meals are kid-sized versions of regular dishes. Kaelyn also tries two drinks: fresh-squeezed orange juice (RMB 38) and apple carrot (RMB 42). “I like the spaghetti and chicken,” she informs us between bites.
The adults at the table also try a few dishes, notably the avocado lover’s hash brown (RMB 82) and Elvis peanut butter French toast (RMB 88). The hash browns come crisp on the outside with a whole avocado sliced on top of a sunny side up egg as well as a thick slice of bacon. As Kaelyn’s dad puts it, the French toast falls firmly into the “guilty pleasure” column. The Rug’s version of the King’s favorite dish is served with homemade creamy peanut butter and maple syrup.
Wait staff at The Rug is friendly and attentive throughout our visit, paying special attention to the needs of our youngest diner.
Family-friendly facilities: Highchairs are available upon request for families with younger children. Smoking is prohibited throughout the restaurant except for a single, sealed-off room on the second floor. There is no bathroom onsite, so customers must use one of the clean public bathrooms in the building. There are two; the one closest to the restaurant only has squat toilets. To find the one with western toilets, exit The Rug into the building, turn right, and follow the red footprints on the floor. Toilet paper is provided, but changing tables are not.
The Rug Sanlitun
Mon-Fri 10.30am-10pm, Sat-Sun 9:30am-10pm. Courtyard 4, Gongti Beilu, Chaoyang District (6507 2307) 朝阳区工体北路4号机电研究院内
This article originally appeared on p22-23 in the December 2014 issue of beijingkids. To view it online for free, click here. To find out how you can obtain your own copy, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Photos: Serena Xu