What’s your favorite Italian restaurant? When I ask my Italian friends, many respond L’Isola–in the Pacific Century Building –due to the combination of food, service, and price. Good news for those who live close to Central Park: L’Isola’s Massimo Masili will soon open LM Club near the Top Cellar wine shop.
LM Club is long and narrow and offers a simple decor, with a handful of chairs along a coffee counter and seating for about 20 people at four tables. Masili says it will open for breakfast–think croissants and cappuccinos and fruit–and serve customers throughout the day and evening. He will have a lunch special for ~RMB60 and says pastas will be available a la carte for RMB30 to RMB40.
LM Club includes a wine room with a table that can seat ten. Masili says that while the wine selection will favor Italian bottles, there will be a decent selection from other countries, and he plans to hold some tasting events.
Look for LM Club to open next month; I’ll provide a firm date when I hear one.
[If I could figure out how to download photos from the camera I have today, this space would contain a shot of a small bar with a sign featuring a moose and Canadian flag. You'll just have to imagine it.]
The Box is the name of: (a) a Canadian band, (b) a Canadian destination for naughty hockey players, or (c) a Canadian bar in Beijing. The answer is (d) all three, but given this blog’s theme, I’ll focus on (c), although the song “Closer Together” gives me flashbacks. I have written about the Aussie-backed bars in Beijing–notably those in the Vegemite Triangle–that draw a heavy Australian crowd (Ned’s), provide Down Under drinks such as Coopers and Bundaberg rum (12SQM), or have food–pizzas–inspired by the homeland (Mao Mao Chong). So what is “Canadian” about The Box?
- The two Canadian flags on display
- The moose and yet another Canadian flag on the sign
- The Canadian ownership
- A food menu that includes poutine
- A drink menu that includes Canadian beer Moosehead (RMB28) and whiskies Canadian Club (RMB25) and Crown Royal (RMB30)
- A white dog with pink ears that no doubt symbolizes the Canadian flag and its white field flanked by two red fields
- The patrons watching a Russell Peters video
- That most patrons were Canadian when I arrived, though by the time I left the crowd was mostly English and included one comedian who, looking at the handful of Canucks, made that never-tiresome “It looks like the entire population of Canada is here” joke.*
In terms of design, The Box lies somewhere between a garage converted to a bar and a common living room on the back forty (as opposed to the “good” living room where the sofas are covered in plastic). In terms of Beijing bars, in reminds me of Ned’s and The Irish Volunteer in spirit. Let’s call it “extreme casual.”
The lights are bright, the furniture consists of six wooden tables and chairs (aka a euchre tournament waiting to happen), there is a large screen TV on which to watch Canadian content, and apparently the walls will soon be adorned with Canadiana. The pub grub ranges from burgers (RMB35) to chicken wings (RMB30) –several people have told me the latter are tasty and I’ll soon give them a try.
The Box is directly across from Café Sambal and features five-kuai pints of Tsingtao this month, which gives you a few more days to indulge.
* Two can play that game: What do we do in Canada when we have a forest fire the size of England? Get out the marshmallows.
PDM just sent me an email me re some happenings in Wudaokou and it reminded me that I’m very much overdue for a visit there. I’ll try to head north in the next two weeks. In the meantime, here is some info courtesy of PDM:
“Student hangout Helen’s Cafe is doubling their space as a result of taking over the space next door. Construction starts this week, according to manager Benny…. Propaganda took over the storefront next door: ‘Solutions‘ is set to be a casual bar (not yet open, still under construction), while upstairs, a new cafe called “Laowai‘s Lounge” looks open for business.”
Like the gossamer threads of a spider web with a finite space in which it is suspended yet an infinite number of ways in which it might be woven, Fubar is again in its limited confines spinning itself a new design, again adding stitches to the booze-filled tales that emblazon its spiritual tapestry, again knitting itself… um… maybe six coffees in just over two hours today was a bad idea…
Anyway, Fubar will reopen tonight after two days of renovations. Expect to find a new dog-leg bar where the old one stood and along the far wall. And expect changes in about two weeks with an expansion of the upper floor and the removal of that mother ship of all wall lights.
Remember this post from early July? That promise to give us Beijing’s biggest burger has been fulfilled with last Sunday’s opening of The Butcher Steakhouse at the north end of Sanlitun bar street (former Cappuccino space). This burger is a meaty beast with a kilo of Australian beef and two more of bun and toppings. I mean, look at the size of that thing! That’s a virtual planetoid! Has its own weather system! If you finish it by yourself, it is free. If you can’t, or you decide to share it with friends, it will cost RMB138.
The Butcher Steakhouse is run by three Danish butchers: the manager, Kenneth Arrild, has done everything from owning butcher shops in Copenhagen to running a steakhouse in Shanghai. It includes a restaurant that seats about 100, a bar with three beers on a tap and plenty of wine choices, and a patio with space for 50 that provides views of the street and leafy embassy area. The Butcher Steakhouse is also a deli, with sausages and steaks and sauces and salads all done on premise using about a dozen pieces of machinery that ranges from sausage makers to vacuum packers.
Some items from the menu:
- All-day Butcher’s breakfast, with sausages, smoked ham and pate, eggs, bread, and coffee, tea, or juice (RMB88)
- Brazilian rib-eye steak with mixed vegetables (200 grams for RMB98; 400 grams for RMB198)
- Australian Angus beef “New York strip” (500 grams for RMB348)
- Sausage selection with roasted onions, mustard, and bread (RMB98)
The menu also lists five-desserts, including grilled bananas, from RMB58; five kids menu items, including burgers and wings, from RMB38; and eight lunch sandwich options (pork loin, meat ball, etc), with fries, soda or juice, and ice cream with caramel sauce, at RMB58. (If you like your sandwiches a bit sloppy, you’ll like the meat ball.)
I’ll post a review when I get some friends together and give that burger a try…
It's like a planetoid (photo: AC)
Update II: I held the draw with Butcher Steakhouse GM Kenneth Arrild yesterday and the winner is maotai. I’ll be in contact with maotai and charlie, who won the merit award for his suggestion (see below). Also of note, the staff told me yesterday that someone ate more than 90 percent of one of these massive burgers. So close and yet half a pound so far…
Update: I sent a list of the entries to Butcher Steakhouse GM Kenneth Arrild and his pick as the best: The Butcher’s Bastard Burger as suggested by Charlie, who gets one of these two-patty monsters as well as fries and four Cokes as his prize. I’ll drop by Butcher Steakhouse in the next few days to meet Kenneth and hold the draw for the second burger.
With a kilo of Australian beef and two kilos of bun and toppings, the massive Butcher’s Burger adds up to nearly six pounds of food fun.*
But what if it had two patties?
So far, that is a beefy beast with no name, so The Butcher’s Steakhouse (see writeup here) has agreed to team up for a contest to give it one. Go to the comments section and suggest a name for this super sandwich–I’m going with “The Calf-o-Lanche“–and you could win one (with fries and four Cokes).
In fact, The Butcher Steakhouse has agreed to give away two of these burgers. One will be decided by a draw that will include the name of everyone who submits a legitimate suggestion. The other will be decided on merit, probably by three men in bloodstained aprons (don’t even think of disputing their decision).
Your name will only be entered in the draw once, though you are welcome to make as many suggestions as you like. The deadline is Tuesday at 2 PM.
* Notice how I’m mixing metric and imperial measures. Just trying to maintain peace in this crazy, crazy world.
GM Kenneth Arrild with the [insert burger name here
Pabst Blue Ribbon “tall boys” for RMB10. You don’t see that every day in Beijing but such is life at The Brick (map) during its happy hour. And one of many things I enjoyed during a six-hour visit to this Shuangjing bar on Saturday night. Nine more:
- Pub grub: The donkey meat pizza (RMB15) is a small crispy tasty six-inch pie (you can alternatively get your donkey in a grilled cheese). I also tried the Tommy Gun chicken burrito with nachos (I liked the paprika) and salsa (RMB40). Good filler.
- Beer: About two dozen choices, including Strongbow Cider, from the aforementioned PBR at RMB15 to big bottles of Franziskaner at RMB45.
- Cocktails: The President Mao–gin, tonic, grenadine–is pleasant. My mates tried the Hard Lemon (good), Nuclear Blue (OK), Jack Coke (g00d), and something with a 151 float (went from “smells like gasoline” to “I like it” over the duration of the drink). Most of the cocktails are ~RMB40.
- Shots: We tried the RMB5 Skittle-infused vodka ones. You know what, I really think my Skittle-infused vodka shot days are behind me…
- Menu: Ample choice in terms of beer, cocktails, and food, but not so much so that you spend half an hour reading the menu. Plus some of the neatest chalkboard writing you will find.
- Layout and decor: Speaking of chalkboards, the second floor has a small school’s worth as well as a pool table. Downstairs is a stand-up bar and several “lounge” seats, with a few tables out front. The faux brick bar facade is a bit meh but the place is comfy enough, has some personal touches (check out the stuff glued to the ceiling), and is clean.
- Video: On Saturday, The Brick screened The Life Aquatic with the sound on, then Fight Club and The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly with sub-titles. That doubles the number of movies I’ve seen this year though I suspect that will soon change given that DJ Chunky left me his DVD player. The music was good.
- Wireless: Being fixed when I arrived, working by the time I left.
- Customers: The kind of place where you can sit by yourself and nurse a beer, strike up a conversation with your neighbor, or get together with friends and get sloppy.
The Brick is run by Ryan and Cici Feng Johnston, bills itself as a neighborhood bar, and lives up to it. As with Mao Mao Chong, I’d spend a lot more time at this place if only I lived closer. I’ll be back soon to try the grilled cheese…
The Brick is open daily from 5 PM to 2 AM. Happy hour, which includes discounts on draft and RMB20 well drinks, is from 5 PM to 8 PM.
(I went to The Brick after spending a full day in Shuangjing, starting with a 9 AM meeting, and will have posts on other spots visited, including Lily’s and Unconditional Love.)
(Thanks to Mr Hao for the photo)
There is a saying in euchre: go high or go home. New steakhouse Flamme on Sanlitun Village 3F is doing the former with some hard-to-resist specials. Numerous people have already told me they consider the steaks here good value, so they should be even happier with the two-for-one deal on Tuesdays as well as decent drink specials during the rest of the week. Here is how it shapes up.
All-you-can-drink Stella and Hoegaarden for RMB50. Given a pint of Stella tends to be RMB35 to RMB40 around Beijing, the average punter should be able to squeeze some value out of this one (and it ought to go well with the super salty zucchini chips).
Two-for-one house steaks. Again, these Aussie slabs are already good value–and very rich if the one I had is any indication–so this stands to be a popular special.
First cocktail is free for ladies.*
Buy one, get one free drinks from 2 PM to closing (not including bottled wine and beer). This should be of interest to cocktail fans given that Paul Mathew put together the menu and it includes cocktails with local twists.
With these specials, Flamme is is both seeking to pump up its patron numbers and putting the heat on its third-floor neighbors.
* See: It takes a Village: Beijing’s biggest ladies night ever?