Authentic French Cuisine for the discerning diner (and the novice).
Dining hall at the FLO Brasserie Tianjin
Oysters imported from France at the FLO Brasserie Tianjin
Location: No. 37 Guangfu Road, Italian Style Town Hebei District, Tianjin. 天津市河北区意大利风景区光复道37号. （86022）26626688
While many modern restaurants have chosen the path of internationalism and the vogue of “fusion” cuisine, FLO Brasserie has maintained a strong focus on the traditional French dialect. Nestled in the house of a once Chinese Warlord, in the former Italian Concession, the need for international reference seems unnecessary. FLO is a well regarded brand that currently owns around 300 restaurants in Europe alone. The brand has expanded as far as Asia, with the FLO Brasserie of Beijing coming upon its 11th year anniversary.
Unlike the Beijing branch (located in Sanlitun), FLO Tianjin is housed in an actual historic building in the Italian concession. This French Brasserie, with its own long history, fits nicely into one of the side squares of the district. A small veranda looks out onto the enclosed square, which shelters the restaurant nicely from the busy Tianjin street 100 meters away. The first floor is decorated like the interior of a art neuveu café from 1920s Paris. Despite the disconnect between the location and the interior, the fantasy works perfectly. FLO Brasserie is the kind of restaurant you go to when you want to escape. The soft lighting, refinished rooms and glass partitions channels 1920s Paris so well I felt I’d stepped into a period piece. The lower floor, or wine cellar, has more romantic seating, with soft inlaid brick and couples seating. Those who wish to book it for Valentines day will likely have to plan far in advance.
We began our meal with a Tour de la Roche Sauvignon Blanc. For those well-versed in French wine, FLO Brasserie has a generous selection of whites, reds and champaignes. For those who are less comfortable with wine selection, or interested in learning, the wait-staff has been trained to recommend wines to complement each individual dish. As starters we enjoined Traditional Burgundy-style escargot (72rmb), Home-made foie-gras terrine (98rmb) and a Tuna avocado tartar with crustacean cream (89rmb). For me the starters were the most impressive of the entire meal. The tuna tartar was refreshing, while the addition of a light crustacean cream added a second softer interpretation on the same seafood. The amount of thought and careful eye towards editing can be seen in the presentation and flavor of each individual dish. For example, the heavier flavor of the foie-gras is counter-balanced by a fig chutney and playful sweet wine jelly.
Seafood is one of FLO’s strong suits. Fresh oysters, delivered twice a week from France, can be ordered individually or in sets. Of the soups I’d most recommend the mushroom truffle soup (58rmb) and French Onion soup with Emmenthal cheese (48rmb). The mushroom soup uses three different kinds of mushrooms to excellent effect. Despite being mixed together in a common cream soup, each individual breed preserved its unique flavor. And this is all coming from someone who typically hates cream soups.
For our main course we enjoined a Bouillabaisse with scallop, seabass, tiger prawn, mussel and cod-fish (176rmb). The frothy tomato cream based broth did a good job of not overwhelming the seafood. The Australian Beef Tenderloin (288rmb) is highly recommended for those connesuers of beef. My least favorite of the meal was the duck confit (136rmb). The meat was a little too dry and salty. For dessert we ate a delicious chocolate fondant placed atop a chutney of orange peels (66rmb). The combination of the slightly tart and bitter peels with the rich chocolate cream was heavenly.
French food can be heavy fare, but overall Flo balanced the richness of the food with fun presentation and creative side additions. Flo Brasserie is one of the first truly authentic French restaurants to hit Tianjin. In this sense their role is double, they must both appease those who already have an experienced palate and cater to new diners who have never eaten an authentic French meal. Flo Brasserie is appropriate for both schools of diners and everyone in between.
-- by Eva Goodyear
Service quality: excellent Food quality: very good Price per head (RMB): 200-300 Environment: excellent Feature dish or menu: Bouillabaisse
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Your article about Flo in Tianjin is very mouth-watering... Well done. However, there are 2 spelling mistakes: "art neuveu" should be "art nouveau", and "connesuers of beef" should be written "connoisseurs of beef". I know it's difficult to write 100% correctly and don't blame you. Jean-Pierre, a French guy living in Tianjin.