Italian job: L’Isola’s Masili to open LM Club in Central Park

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.

Drinking inside The Box: A Canadian bar in Beijing

[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.

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* 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.

Wudaokou: Helen’s Cafe, Solutions, Laowai’s Lounge

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 “Laowais Lounge” looks open for business.”

Fubar: Sporting new wood tonight at Workers Stadium

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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.

Butcher Steakhouse: Beijing’s biggest burger, and more

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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…