Aria, Beijing


1 Jianguomenwai Ave., China World Hotel,


The most fabulous of the restaurants in the sprawling China World Hotel, Aria attracts a hip, well-dressed, and largely Western-expat crowd. The spacious first-floor lounge is a scene unto itself, with banquettes made for lingering over creative cocktails; the dining room is on the second floor, reached via a dramatic spiral staircase. Here, the linen-clad tables are surrounded by Roman-style wall frescoes and an open kitchen, where chefs turn out upscale Western-style comfort food: Black Angus steaks; seared red snapper with mashed potatoes, cherry tomatoes, and black olives in a saffron jus; braised lamb knuckle with a ragout of white beans, pearl onions, and bacon. The desserts are of the hearty variety—try the upside-down apple tart with cinnamon ice cream—and the impressive wine list includes both cheap-and-cheery Aussie labels and a 1982 Chateau Latour Bordeaux that goes for just over $11,600 a bottle.