Sips & Bites: Chinese New Year, Flamme, Grinders, The Loop, 1F, Tun

Plenty of restaurants and bars will close during Chinese New Year for everything from a few days (Agua on February 2 and February 3) to ten days or more (Beer Mania from January 27 to February 7). Best to phone ahead and make sure your destination is open so you are not left, both figuratively and literally, out in the cold. Best also to practice patience as it sounds like many restaurants and bars, at least “Western” ones, will be short-staffed during the holidays.

Flamme should have its new bar installed by Friday. The previous unit looked like it came from Ikea and had a curve that jutted just enough that people had trouble passing behind imbibers and thus often detoured through the dining area. The new unit is longer and narrower and comes with a wood base, a sturdy foot rail, and coat hooks and sockets under its lip. Looking forward to test-sitting it with a Passionate Englishman (the drink).

Grinders has launched its happy hour: half price draft beer, bottled beer, glasses of house wine, and hi-balls, 3 PM to 7 PM, seven days a week. The regular price of Kilkenny and Strongbow cider has increased from RMB40 to RMB50 per pint. This is still good value for these beverages and translates into RMB25 during happy hour, with Stella at RMB20 and house wine at RMB13.

One idea: pair this happy hour with the two-for-one deal The Loop runs nightly from 9 PM. Speaking of which, once the staff figured out how to set up my DVD player, we found this a decent place to show video last Sunday during the Firefly meet-up. As for the food, the pizza crust needs some work, though you get a lot of filler for RMB28. And I know I’ve said it before, but I like the layout of this place.

Someone recently donated a bottle of maple syrup to First Floor. The result: the place now offers “Canadian coffee“, a brew topped off with Canadian Club whiskey and maple syrup.

Finally, I dropped into Tun bar this week: I’m not sure how long that new door, signage, and kitchen design has been around, but the place looks spiffier.

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