Most families might not feel fancy enough for an upscale French meal, but if there’s a time to rouse the spirits, it’s the holidays. We think the best place for this is Ernest’s French Bistro, where Chef Ernest Yan passionately devotes himself to his foodie creations. The atmosphere of the bistro has more of a home feel than a coat-tails-and-bow-ties vibe, so children needn’t necessarily be on their best behavior or pull out those Christmas white tights. Though the bistro has become a new favorite among Francophiles and foodies alike, the real test, we believe, is if the entrees appeal to a younger palate.
We brought in seven-year-old Bernadette and five-year-old Diederik, who attend Daystar Academy and Ivy Academy, respectively. Dad Albert van Lawick van Pabst is a Dutch entrepreneur working in sustainable energy. Mother Elisabeth Koch, of the eponymous millinery label, loved the food and presentation, but was a bit concerned whether her children would enjoy everything offered. Though she raises them both with an open mouth to all cuisines, she could easily see the set would be best enjoyed by adults.
First up were the garlic prawns (RMB 98), which Diedrik quickly devoured. Bernadette later confided in us, “The garlic shrimp were my favorite, but I didn’t like that Diedrik ate almost all of them.” They tried the homemade foie gras parfait with a rose wine jelly topping served with house made brioche (RMB 98), but it wasn’t a favorite of Diedrik. Bernadette did enjoy the foie gras with the jelly removed.
Bernadette began dipping the brioche into the remaining prawn garlic sauce, and Diederik quickly followed suit. Both children snapped up the pan-seared scallops served with sautéed asparagus, shitaki mushroom, corn, and chicken veloute (RMB 168).
Next the boeuf cheeks bourguignon (RMB 198) came in an appealing presentation paired with sautéed baby potatoes, candy beets, and fresh asparagus. “The meat is very tender,” Mom commented.
“I like the cheeks,” Diederik replied, then added, “Because I like beef and chicken.”
Deep fried Brussel sprouts with almonds (RMB 88) might not have appealed to most children, but Bernadette happened to absolutely enjoy them. Playing around, Diederik fed her a few, which Bernadette snapped off the fork.
Would you recommend other kids come here, we asked. Diederik thought for a moment before giving a decisive “Yes.”
Family-friendly Notes: Bathrooms are kept clean. High chairs and kid’s cutlery are available. The space is relaxed, not stuffy, and appropriate for a homey holiday meal or date night.
Ernest’s French Bistro 艾尔尼法式小馆
Tue-Thu 11am-8.30pm; Fri-Sat 11am-11.30pm. Pinnacle Plaza, Shunyi District,(8042 2106) 顺义荣祥广场（馨园一街2号院，3幢03）
This article originally appeared on page 1f the November/ December issue of beijingkids magazine. Click here for your free online copy. To find out how you can obtain a hard copy, contact email@example.com.
PHOTOS: DAVE’S STUDIO