The first restaurant in Asia from three-star Michelin chef Daniel Boulud, the elegant Maison Boulud set in the former American Embassy is worthy of all the hype. The exquisite French cuisine is prepared with both local and Pacific Rim ingredients that result in marriages such as roasted duck foie gras with mangos and spiced cashews. The interior of this Qing Dynasty diplomatic residence has been unobtrusively frescoed with neo-classical scenes by the design team behind the Gramercy Park Hotel in New York. The richly textured velvet furnishings and dark walnut parquet floors recall 18th century decadence. The ambiance is perfect for enjoying refined but not overly complicated French fare that has made Boulud so famous, such as a chilled lobster and pigeon tartine. The Maison Boulud also hosts perhaps the most sophisticated brunch in Beijing – try the sunny side up quail egg with buckwheat pancakes. The set lunch menu of RMB 165 for three courses is excellent value for haute cuisine. And in the summer they have an ice cream cart in the courtyard serving chocolate, sesame and vanilla ice cream sandwiches that are not to be missed.