Maison Boulud is a pleasure for food, drink, and history lovers alike. Formerly the U.S. Embassy during the Qing Dynasty, and site of secret confabs between Chinese Premier Zhou Enlai and U.S. Secretary of State Henry Kissinger ahead of President Richard Nixon's visit to China in 1972, this restaurant is close to Tiananmen Square, and serves as the Beijing branch of the food empire of New York-based chef Daniel Boulud.
Dinner guests will find a full range of high-end dishes here, from seafood platters, to rack of lamb, to top-notch steaks, with a wine list to match, including good Chinese options. But Maison Boulud is also a worth stop for weekend brunch: the "db burger," made from sirloin, fois gras, and short ribs, gets particularly good reviews. And to enjoy a drink in the sedate surroundings of the bar, whether that means classics—think Martinis and Manhattans—or house recipes created using spirits infused on site, with noteworthy past efforts, including Yunnan truffle infused-vodka. As with the restaurant proper, you will likely be treated to snacks, with my favorite being the citrus madeleines.
The surroundings take things up a notch, from the grand foyer—poke about a bit—to the private dining rooms at the top of the stairs. Meanwhile, the grounds include the former diplomatic residences, all beautifully lit at night. This mix of food, drink, history, and architecture are what make Maison Boulud one of the top restaurants in town.