Call me psychic, but when I saw a single tear trickle down the left cheek of Zach “The Knife” Lewison of Union Bar & Grille at last week’s Beijinger magazine restaurant awards, I sensed that maybe, just maybe, something was wrong. Perhaps, I thought, he cried that single tear — not two, not three, but one — because Union didn’t win anything for which is was nominated despite Lewison giving us some of the city’s tastiest American eats over the past year. Then again, maybe it was because a piece of that free cheese went down the wrong pipe. Whatever the case, and despite the humble status of this blog, I want to give him recognition in eight categories:
- Sandwiches: His Reuben ranks among the best sandwiches in Beijing (Lewsion should also get a nod from the world’s dairy boards for the amount of butter he uses).
- Chicken wings: Best buffalo sauce (that butter again).
- Brunch: Best eggs Benedict (since he uses Canadian bacon, can we rename them Ehggs Benedict?).
- Flexibility: Outstanding effort, after patron complained coffee was too weak, to make two batches of stronger brew and conduct taste test. Responded to customer suggestion to create a “kung pao chicken wings thingy” by whipping up several batches. Tests new bar snacks on customers, then fine-tunes the recipes, before they go on the menu. Etc.
- IT: Special award for emerging from the kitchen dozens of times to reset the wireless when it malfunctioned and, in one case, phoning HQ in Hong Kong several times when the satellite signal went down and management was not on hand that day–all of this is “above and beyond” effort that keeps customers happy.
- Customer relations: Good interaction with patrons, aided by having the best repository of stories about the Chicken Koop in Jacksonville, Florida.
- Facial hair: Ranks in top five among Beijing chefs for Miami Vice-like stubble.
- Overall: Special mention for good attitude, hard work, sense of humor, pouring coffee and taking orders when service staff are nowhere to be found, and dispensing an impressive amount of knowledge about U.S. microbreweries.