Sips & bites: Opening night at Modo, bagel chips at Tavalin, plus Cheers, Niajo and Migas

modo deli beijing china-001Modo returned to the dining scene last night with a more intimate space, a menu that ranges from soups, sandwiches and salads to quiches, burgers and crispy pork belly, and reasonably priced wine for drinking onsite or takeaway. And marketing director Chirstina Aman-Riglet says more is to come.

The burger is served on a frying pan, with a side of pickled vegetables and olives, and is traditional with lettuce, tomato, pickle and mustard in a sesame seed bun. Delicious but pricey (rmb85). I washed it down with one of those apparently healthy “detox” drinks (rmb38), then, when a friend arrived, tried the tempanade (oozing with flavor) and un-detoxed by drinking way too much wine (rmb38 per glass). Such is life. Anyway, the back corner, which several people have already referred to as “the kitchen table“, makes for a cozy retreat and I imagine it will be popular for birthday parties, outings with friends, and wine tastings.

There were a few service glitches, as there typically are at openings, but all in all this a good night and a good return to the village scene by Alex Molina and Daniel Urdaneta.

modo burger by daniel urdanta beijing china-001~

bagel chips at tavalin bagels beijing china-001 Tavalin has added delicious bagel chips to its growing lineup of foods and drinks. These are crunchy, but not too crunchy. Available in a half dozen or so flavors. And will go well with one of the three beers, and perhaps a cider, to be stocked in the newly installed mini-fridge. Taviln has also added iced coffee. And should soon have new promotional pins, including ones for Anne of Green Bagels and The Big Bagel Theory. It’s busy days at the Tower of Bagel….

iced coffee and mini fridge at tavalin bagels beijing china-001

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cheers wine bar sanlitun gongti beijing china-001Just around the corner, the newest branch of Cheers wine bar officially opens Friday and means yet another spot to enjoy Spanish Tempranillo, Australian Shiraz and Romanian Merlot at reasonable prices. (Cheers also has a nearby outlet beside Dareen Coffee just north of Sanlitun Village North.) Cheers is on the same strip that includes Nearby the Tree, Friend (this place could use a re-think), Two Guys and a Pie and Simon Ge BBQ (tried it Monday, needs to work on service) and will see the re-opening of The Loop as a retail wine shop / cooking and wine class venue and the opening of a bar by the guys at nearby Revolution. Should be a busy summer in those parts.

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IMG_0173One of the unsung Beijing lunch deals — both in terms of quality and value — is at Spanish restaurant Niajo. Three courses with wine / beer / soda and coffee / tea for rmb98. The menu changes weekly and I enjoy seeing it pop into my inbox on Sunday night or Monday morning (subscribe by contacting newsletter (at) niajo.com). Also of note, owner Alex Sanchez says he will soon release his new wine list.

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imageFresh from near-decapitation in a scooter accident — you don’t want to see the wound pics while eating, or before eating, or after eating or, maybe for that matter, ever — Migas chef Aitor Olabegoya is back in the kitchen with sharpened blades and a fresh haul of tuna and octopi. See restaurant manager Juan Matas holding one of the creatures below. Except some succulent tuna given yesterday’s taste test, which essentially consisted of spooning fish flesh off a carcass. Better than it sounds. Much better. Meanwhile, Migas’ co-owner Eduardo Gutierrez is involved in newly opened Spanish restaurant Quemo in Hong Kong.

octopus migas beijing china-001By the way, it looks like the tentacles of Europe’s austerity measures might have reached Beijing as Migas has somehow lost its “s”. Here’s hoping the tapas do not become singular..

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