A bunch of stuff is going down–or seems about to go down–in the alley that branches off Xingfucun Middle Street, is home to Frost, Big Smoke, Back Alley Bistrot, Bob’s Wine, Commix and BBC, and is a favorite outdoor hangout for many people living in the area.
Renovations at Uncle Otis, the chicken-centric venue at the butt end of Big Smoke, are aimed to improving the kitchen and a somewhat minor tale compared to what is happening across the way.
First, word is Olaf “Kro” Bauer, he of Kro’s Nest Pizza fame, will take over Back Alley Bistrot and apparently shift the menu to wraps and sandwich-y delights. (When he saw me exiting April Gourment with groceries last night, he gave me a ride home. What a nice man.)
Meanwhile, neighbor Commix and its beer focus has simply not worked — although kudos to bartender Billy for his friendly demeanor — and it seems only a matter of time before the fridges are turned off for good. Will this place last the summer? Who knows.
The natural move is for the modestly sized cocktail / bottle shop next door, BBC, to expand into that space. BBC has quickly earned a reputation for quality and value, and attracted many of the city’s cocktail aficionados. Co-owner Doug Williams has plans to open a pâtisserie somewhere in Beijing. It would be a nice fit here and provide spillover space for BBC while bringing even more patrons to the area.
Last but not least, look for good things from Frost, which kicked off the scene here a few years ago with its martinis and manicure theme, then gained a reputation for its quality burgers. With Jeff Powell in the kitchen, there is no shortage of talent, and the reduced burden of Back Alley should see it shine.
Oh, I almost forgot Bob’s Wine. It is as ever.