The neon Che Guevara profile at the door suggests something revolutionary inside, but this place delivers the same mediocrity found elsewhere in Beijing . The place itself gives a good first impression, striking one as cozy and warm, as the sort of spot that could become your local pub with its standup bar, table seating and big screen. Unfortunately, some problems on the service side need to be overthrown. On my first visit, the staff seemed bothered that we even ordered food. Then again, perhaps it was a subtle warning, given that the tapas included a firm white substance that defined blandness and was apparently cheese. On my second visit, the Parma ham salad came with incredibly fatty meat, off-the-shelf olives, canned tuna, under-ripe tomatoes, and a 55-kuai price tag that would have been fairer with the first “5″ removed. The food, thus, needs some work. The drinks, however, are definitely worth a try. There are plenty of Cuban specialties and the efficient bartender whipped up a refreshing golden Mojito (Y35), made with orange juice and mint. Unfortunately, his helper stood nearby eating peanuts (mouth wide open), staring blankly at customers and seemingly unaware of the art of removing empty glasses. Then, oddly, A-Che offered me a VIP card. What would that get me? Another green tomato slice? The chance to toss whole lemons into the bar helper’s gaping keghole? It seems to me that this place should first learn to handle non-important people. Anyway, despite all these criticisms, I have hope for A-Che. Some staff training and a rethink of the menu would go a long way to turning that hope into reality. In the meantime, this place is still worth a visit to try some cocktails.
(From Beijing Boyce XXIV, first emailed on September 21, 2006)