Re-Loop: Shuangjing venue sees food, drink upgrade

The Loop (map) is one of those places with the potential to be everything from the hottest hidden spot in town to just another player in the background. I am hoping for the latter and am happy at how the stars are aligning. I like the design: the orange bricks, cement floors and wood trim that to me say Beijing, the tight arrangement of bar, booths, table seating and open space, and the mix of videos beamed on the wall and the music of BB Deng. It has great potential as an event space. But The Loop has thus far faced some issues in terms of food and drink. This is where good things are happening.

The eats: Previously inconsistent and at times poor, the food has seen a major upgrade since Weiley Lu joined the team. Known best for his work at Lugar and e.a.t., Lu has put together a small but good menu he says will gradually expand. I tried the steak yesterday: a perfectly cooked 200-gram cut with vegetables and herb rice for RMB58. That’s hard to beat and Lu says he aims to offer Sanlitun quality at a price that allows people to take a taxi from there to The Loop and back – and still come out ahead. (By the way, you can switch the rice for mashed potatoes or mashed sweet potatoes.) I also tried the tasty fried pork cube with balsamic and fresh mint (RMB36 for six pieces) that Lu says is a riff on Nobu. The rest of the menu includes pastas from RMB28, snacks such as fried potato wedges, fried jalapenos, and chicken wings from RMB24, and mains such as salmon steak at RMB58. It looks like the food issue is solved.

The drinks: Those Lafite- and Latour-looking wines were an issue because at least for me they raised concerns about the legitimacy of the booze. Lu is now putting together a wine list that — given the candidates I have seen — should offer both quality and value. Even better, as he did at Lugar, Lu is getting creative with the drinks.  There are fifteen house cocktails, each named after a movie, including Roman Holiday, Norwegian Wood and Desperado. The intriguing If You Are the One combines Maotai, Triple Sec, and citrus, and rivals The Jing Fling at Mao Mao Chong as the best cocktail made with Chinese spirits. Mixed drinks are RMB30 and include a ~50ml pour while the beer list covers six bottle options, including Tsingtao (RMB15), Hoegaarden (RMB30), and Dead Guy Ale (RMB45). Look for Lu to also put together a strong collection of rums and Bourbons.

The Loop is not the easiest place to find, and it does feel a bit cold and could benefit from an outgoing staff member of two, but the food and drink upgrade, the good service I experienced yesterday, and the relaxed vibe and excellent music bode well, and I could see this spot becoming one of my favorites.

2 thoughts on “Re-Loop: Shuangjing venue sees food, drink upgrade”

  1. Tried The Loop for the first time today.

    The food was very good for the price, service was awkward. Our appetizers came out 10-15min after our main course. We ordered steaks that tasted great but were cooked with total disregard for how they were ordered (I like em bloody, unfortunately my wife doesn’t). We both opted for the sweet potato mash on the side which was nice, but the accompanying rocket salad was bone dry and inedible. It had no dressing and it had obviously done some time in the fridge.

    When asked how our meal was, my candid feedback was met my a sheepish look, a sound bordering between a squeak and a grunt before the waiter scuttled away. Nobody resembling a manager in sight, which was probably why none of the staff really knew how to respond to questions or complaints.

    As far as the music, I would go as far as to say “musak” but that might just have been the day we were there or the large Chinese dinner crowd that had booked part of the restaurant for a private party.

    The Loop has the makings of a great place. The staff could use some training and the management would benefit the place by making themselves known and taking an interest in their customers. The food was great and good value for money, but little oversights let it down in a big way.

    The atmosphere is great, but still lacks a little soul and you alluded to in your post. A happy hour and some fun staff might liven the place up.

  2. Thanks for the detailed comments @riceagain. I’ll pass them along to the new manager.

    I’ve eaten there twice under the new group and enjoyed the food very much but I’m not surprise to hear there are some kinks to work out. I do hope that “Muzak” was a one-off because I’ve always enjoyed the playlists by BB Deng.

    Cheers, Boyce

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