On Saturday my friend and I made amends for what was a pathetic lunch last weekend.
We tried out Mosto, a restaurant that has opened for a year with chef Daniel Urdaneta who used to be at Salt.
The restaurant is located in Nali Patio, a small mall behind Sanlitun Village that houses restaurants and many beauty treatment places offering massages, manicures and waxing.
Mosto is on the third floor, looking down at a courtyard and has a breezy, casual feel. Some patrons were outside dining al fresco, but inside was pleasant too, with a rough brick wall with the odd bricks sticking out with lit candles. There are more candles by the bar, a year's worth having dripped their way into a white Gothic-like wax mound. Meanwhile the floor is polished concrete and sturdy sets of wooden chairs and tables.
Even the layout of the menu is straightforward, presented horizontally on wooden cheeseboards.
The food is to the point too, allowing the dishes to speak for themselves using simple but delicious ingredients.
For a late lunch my friend started with a trio of ricotta and spinach crepes, which were roasted with pine nuts. It was not too heavy and had the right combination of spinach and ricotta, the pine nuts adding a nice balance. I had eggs Benedict, featuring two poached eggs on a slice of Canadian ham that was also laid on not an English muffin, but a light puff pastry which was a delightful surprise. It was finished with Hollandaise sauce that wasn't too rich and garnished with roasted cherry tomatoes.
If that wasn't enough, we shared a Venezuelan arepa, a flat unleaven patty of cornmeal that is baked and then in this case later grilled. It was stuffed with finely diced chicken and avocado mixed with mayo, making it a scrumptious sandwich with wet and crunchy textures, and the flavour of corn from the bread.
We were so sated by our meal that it could not be complete without dessert. We patiently waited 15 minutes for the chocolate souffle, a dark molten chocolate cake with dark and white liquid chocolate slowly oozing out, complemented with a scoop of Sichuan peppercorn ice cream and dressed with raspberry coulis. The slightly spicy taste from the ice cream cut the richness of the chocolate perfectly, each bite requiring a pause to savour the decadent taste.
And to round out the dining experience, the wait staff were friendly, asking us straight out when we sat down if we wanted free still water or sparkling, and then constantly refilling our glasses with orange-flavoured water.
Apart from the taste, the wallet was grateful too -- two appetizers, a main and dessert came to 240RMB ($35) for two.
We're definitely coming back to try the dinner menu!
3/F, Nali Patio
81 Sanlitun Beilu, D308