Goodbye Boulud: Ignace LeCleir to leave as GM

Ignace Lecleir will leave as general manager of Maison Boulud, widely considered to be Beijing’s best western restaurant, at the end of June. He says he plans to stay in Beijing and is looking into new opportunities.

GM since Boulud opened about two years ago, Lecleir has overseen an operation that has racked up dozens of awards for its food, wine, service, and decor. It has been the bright spot at the Legation Quarter / Chienmen 23 complex, which saw the Aqua Group (Agua, Shiro Matsu, Hex, Fez) and Meat & Wine Company close during the past six months and sees Italian restaurant Sadler as the only other Western eatery left. Both Maison Boulud and Lecleir are highly regarded among readers of this blog, if the emails and comments I receive are any indication, and we can expect plenty of talk that the move portends something darker for the restaurant. Frankly, when you see surrounding businesses fail and top staff leave, it doesn’t imbue confidence.

Top five Beijing bars: Kiwi native Jo Greene in Nanluoguxiang

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New Zealand native Jo Greene moved to Beijing just over a year ago and has acquired a fondness for the drinking holes of Nanluoguxiang and its surrounding hutongs. Here are her five favorite spots to get a drink.

“Some people wonder why I choose to live in Gongti, considering I spend most of my time in Nanluoguxiang. Well, if I could pick up my apartment and put it down in Ju’er Hutong, I would! It’s probably a better question to ask why I spend so much time in the NLGX area. Well, here’s the answer:

12SQM: This place is like sitting in my living room drinking with friends. The southernmost bar of NLGX (and formerly the smallest) was the first place I had a drink at when I arrived in Beijing just over a year ago. The owner Joseph is an ex-colleague and actually it’s the unofficial hangout for most of my old travel buddies who either live in or just pass through Beijing. I love the unpretentiousness of this place and that I can pick the music using my iPhone. You’ll find me most nights sitting in the window seat people watching over a pint of Yanjing or a nip of one of their long list of whiskeys.

Mao Mao Chong: When it’s time for food I head down Banchang utong to Mao Mao. Stephen is another ex-colleague and I love what he’s done with this place since moving it down from Wudaoying Hutong. The pizzas are some of my favourite bar food in the city and he has an impressive cocktail list that changes with the seasons, not to mention a great selection of Australian wines by the glass. If you’re in need of a present for friends overseas try one of Mao Mao’s own designer t-Shirts.

Amilal: I wont tell you exactly where this little gem is because I’d like it to stay a secret! Amilal is a great chill-out spot at the end of the night. Alc is a excellent host, along with the cats, fish, and the occasional canine visitor. The music collection is impressive, it’s the only place in this city I’ve heard both Tom Waits and Johnny Cash on the play-list. Amilal also has a fine whiskey selection and sometimes live Mongolian folk music on the weekend.

Jianghu Jiu Ba: This Dongmianhua Hutong hideaway would have to be one of my favourite live music venues in Beijing. I’m here usually at least once a week for gigs. The small stage and cosy back room give it an intimate feel, like you’re almost on stage with the musicians. I’ve seen everything from the full lineup of Girls Are Waiting To Meet You crammed onto the tiny corner for a full plugged-in show, to Michael Dallin from Bad Apples singing with just his acoustic guitar, and almost everything in between! The owner Tianxiao is a great saxophonist, and his friends will frequently pop by for jazz jam sessions. The atmosphere is so chilled you’ll often find the bands sharing beer and chatting with fans after the shows. They also have their own beers, both yellow and black draft.

Salud: The perfect place to end the night. When everything else in the area is closing, this place will still be pumping. Well known amongst the French crowd, Salud has some great Wednesday night gigs as well, from Chinese folk, to French reggae, to Irish fiddles, there’s always a lot of variety, sometimes all in the same night. I can’t pick the music with my iPhone here, but when it gets late the French bartenders are always open to music suggestions. Behind the bar there’s a great selection of homemade flavoured rums, however I prefer their sangria in the summer and mulled wine in the winter.

This weekend in Beijing: Parkside, 2 Kolegas, Xiu Bar

Just a quick note of some happenings this weekend…

Parkside Bar & Grill, across from The Rosedale Hotel in Lido, is holding its opening party tonight. The place will serve free cocktails, wine, and draft Stella and Carlsberg from 7:30 PM to 10 PM. It will be open from tomorrow though the food menu will not be available until next week. Glenn Phelan, of Pavillion, Browns, Frank’s Place, Paddy O’Shea’s, Stumble Inn, Danger Doyle’s, and Souk, designed and managed the construction of Parkside.

Also tonight, 2 Kolegas celebrates the first of a two-day celebration to mark its fifth year. The lineup features two of my favorite bands, although on separate days. Tonight, it includes blues band Black Cat Bone, while tomorrow it includes DH and the Hellcats.

And Xiu Bar in the Yantai Centre is also apparently holding an anniversary party tomorrow night, though this one seems to require tickets. I’ll post more info if I can get any.

Finally, for those who believe in quantity, Phil’s Pub, just across from the north entrance of Ritan Park, has a RMB50 all-you-can-drink deal on spirits and mixers from 9 PM to 12:30 AM tonight.

Sports and suds on Thursdays: Beer pong and more at Tun

How many people would like to exercise more but are too busy going out or would like to go out more but are too busy in the gym? Tonight is a chance to multitask as Tun Bar is mixing sports and suds with its Thursday beer pong event. I went a few weeks ago, strictly as an observer, and Tun did a good job with the layout–I liked the rotating lights–and in drawing a diverse crowd. For those who want further workouts, Tun also has pool, darts, foosball, and ping pong. Beer pong starts at 9:30 PM and the night includes beer specials. It is also a good chance to check out Tun’s new deck.

Wienerama: The Beijing hot dog scene heats up again

I figured the hot dog craze had leveled or even tailed off but it appears that lips and assholes packaged in tubular form are again gaining momentum. Luga’s Basement advertised hot dogs for its recent opening party and Paddy O’Shea’s is doing the same for the upcoming World Cup. And a place called Hot Dog has opened across from Workers Stadium North to join local area wiener joints No More Bunz, Stadium Dog, and the carts in front of Vics and Shooters, among others. For some reason, Hot Dog is using the traditional wiener roller to heat noodles and instead cooking theirs in a toaster oven: Mine came slightly raw in the center, was in a prepackaged bun, and cost RMB15. Not the best dog, but if you’re drunk or hungry enough, it’ll do. And this place has added value for those who want to make photocopies or buy a stuffed animal while they eat (that bear on the top shelf is RMB90, in case you are wondering).

For what it’s worth, I like the grilled dog at No More Bunz and the toppings at Stadium Dog, with the chili dog at Hooters getting serious consideration.

- See also:

Make me one with everything: The hot dog scene in Beijing

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I figured the hot dog craze had leveled or even tailed off but it appears that lips and assholes packaged in tubular form are again gaining momentum. Luga’s Basement advertised hot dogs for its recent opening party and Paddy O’Shea’s is doing the same for the upcoming World Cup. And a place called Hot Dog has opened across from Workers Stadium North to join local area wiener joints No More Bunz, Stadium Dog, and the carts in front of Vics and Shooters, among others. For some reason, Hot Dog is using the traditional wiener roller to heat noodles and instead cooking theirs in a toaster oven: Mine came slightly raw in the center, was in a prepackaged bun, and cost RMB15. Not the best dog, but if you’re drunk or hungry enough, it’ll do. And this place has added value for those who want to make photocopies or buy a stuffed animal while they eat (that bear on the top shelf is RMB90, in case you are wondering).

For what it’s worth, I like the grilled dog at No More Bunz and the toppings at Stadium Dog, with the chili dog at Hooters getting serious consideration.

- See also:

Make me one with everything: The hot dog scene in Beijing