‘Wo’ 窝 in Chinese means nest, den or lair, so I’m not quite sure how a cafe so titled in one language ended up so humorously as ‘Rug’ in another. Despite such an odd and somewhat unappetising name, this eatery turned up towards the top of my food-locations-to-visit-during-April-in-Beijing list. Away from my beloved Shanghai for the month working on location in the Capital, I’ll have occasion to escape from the office and eat at around a dozen food locations from a list prepared from snippets of info I’ve gathered since my last sojourn here. In a city with over 3000 McDonald’s, one can only imagine how many locations serving actual real food I’ll miss out on.
Faced with a blustery mid-week holiday morning and no tombs to sweep, Rug moved to the top of said list as ideal breakfast destination. Working up an appetite on the bike ride over and loving the slide open of the massive wooden door, we were seated at the communal table as punishment for our sins of not reserving a table. Perfect. Loved observing our neighbours’ breakfasts and eavesdropping — my, there’s nothing better than listening in to other foodies’ conversations!
Hannah and I both ordered bagel with lox and dill (78rmb) that came with a rather good and deliciously large coffee. With a rocket salad and pan-fried garlicky potatoes, I was rather enamoured with the exacting portioning of the dish. It was perfect really; not too much, not too little.
There were some other pretty spunky dishes floating around that Wednesday morning: generous plates piled with high fluffy pancakes (58rmb), eggs benedict (78rmb) and scrambled eggs. The congee organic bagel brunch (35rmb) (wonderfully sans youtiao (deep-fried bread)!) piqued my curiously for next time. For dessert (or was it morning tea by then? Or lunch?) there was a pretty great double chocolate cake (38rmb) to try. Dense and brownie-like, it was rich enough for two ladies to both share and keep chocolate cake cravings sated.
‘The Rug Bagel and Cafe’, as officially named, are obviously proud of their bagels. Touted as fresh, organic and healthy, the tough skins and denseness of these breads are perfectly tasty. I also love the commitment of this new cafe’s owners to use local Beijing organic suppliers.
Whilst prices are certainly on the Shanghai side of tall, it’s really the atmosphere and helpful, attentive service that topped off the experience. With a light-filled airy feel, one would never equate this space with those odd, ground-floor-of-apartment-building restaurants that seem to be appearing more frequently across town.
Good places to go for breakfast or brunch in Beijing are few and far between, so I hope to make it back for the congee. Rug’s dedication to design, service, and sourcing local, non-chemically produced ingredients makes this place all the more delicious. I love Rug. But I’ll be calling it ‘Wo’ in the future.
The Rug Ground floor, no. 4 Lishui Jiayuan, Chaoyang Gongyuan Nan Lu, Liulitun – opposite the south gate of Chaoyang Park, 010-8550 2722
First row of photos by Hannah at Hundreds and Thousands Jewellery, the rest by moi.