We dropped in to check out The River House, the Minshan Hotel’s top floor dining space with a view, for lunch one recent Saturday. The room has a clean and modern look and a contemporary menu. One thing we like about eating western food in better hotels is the staff usually get a good level of training and practice in western style service, and The River House is no exception, with the servers pulling out chairs and arranging flatware correctly and confidently.
The menu is short and sweet with a few options for appetizers, soup, mains and desserts and three and four course set meal options. It does feel a bit wintery, with lots of beef options and stewed and braised dishes. The main difference between the two set menus was a soup course, so we went with the lighter menu and paid a supplement for the salmon main. The organic greens salad was fine, but a bit ordinary and paying this price raises expectations somewhat. The oil poached salmon was cooked nicely and much more flavourful than a piece of salmon we’d had earlier that week. It was plated on top of truffle-flecked potato with lots of very good and interesting garnishes – so many that we were reminded of the chengyu about an artist adding feet to a perfect painting of a snake. The napoleon dessert was nicely plated, but like the salad – a bit ordinary. We would try one of the other desserts next time.
We were impressed with the quality of ingredients and level of cooking technique at The River House, but three courses and a request for extra bread still did not take the fullness factor to ba fen bao (80% full), so probably only very light appetites would feel satisfied with the three course option. Most bottles of wine on their short but eclectic list are in the mid to high three figures; people who prefer BYOB can consider the restaurant’s 100RMB per bottle corkage option. Steak set meals are around 1000 and up for two; regular menu around 300-500RMB for food.