Sips & bites: Union, Cappuccino, Pinotage, 1F, Fiesta, Fubar, Le Quai and Groovy Schiller’s

Some items accumulated from being out and about the past week…

Renovations are nearly done at Union Bar & Grille and the place is slated to reopen the first weekend of September. Much of the venue remains the same, including that excellent three-sided bar, with the major change being expanded seating at the back. That area will be equipped with several TVs featuring sports, funny photos and, if it is business as usual, one of the biggest music video collections in the city Lipps Inc., anyone?). Manager Amy Huang says patrons can also expect some new food items on the menu.


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Beijing nightlife veteran Cappuccino has returned to its roots, moving back to its former spot at the north end of Sanlitun bar street. It takes over the bottom floor of Royal Smushi House and offers a two-for-one deal on bottled beer, starting at rmb25, from 10 AM to 5:30 PM. I’ll pay a visit soon to check out the food menu. 
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One floor up, Pinotage has completed its move from Sanlitun Soho. The daily wine happy hour continues — rmb15 per glass, 5 to 7 PM weekdays, with eight options — and word is home brew from the suburban branch of Pinotage will soon be available.
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It’s bye-bye for veteran Bar Blu as 1F has taken over both that spot and the one below — it housed Le Petit Gourmand for ages but has since since a revolving door of owners.  
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I’m not sure how long the sign has been up for Fiesta Tex-Mex on Xindong Road but this would mean another option in a strip with several new venues, including Lily’s American Diner and Bubble Bar further north.
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It looks like Fubar is taking its drinks a few notches up the fancy scale if what I saw last week is any indication.
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Across the street, former secluded restaurant Le Quai continues to go through lengthy renovations. Word is this place will reopen as a massive cafe.
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Finally, I made a long overdue stop at Groovy Schiller’s, a spot that epitomizes a local . Lots of patrons outside and in, a friendly staff, a fun lineup of music videos, hockey replays after 10 PM, and sausages. Good times!

Craft brews news: Jing A taproom to open in former Bar Veloce

When Jing A opens its taproom in 1949: The Hidden City in mid-September, it will not only aim to quench the thirst of craft brew fans in the city but also provide them with lots of of munchies.

The new digs — in the former Bar Veloce space — have been under construction for a week and will eventually house enough taps for sixteen beers, including a few Jing A products that will be exclusive to the venue,.

“We’ll also be offering be the first craft brewery to offer the option of nitro taps, serving beers with that creamy Guinness-like consistency,” says an email from the company. “Great for trying a beer you already love in a new way.”

The food menu will be built via collaborations with local food favorites such as Andy’s Craft Sausages, Two Guys and a Pie, and Le Fromager du Pekin, and include the option of “build your own” meat and cheese platters as well as some “healthy” options.

Jing A will join a Sanlitun South scene that has grown by leaps and bounds in the past few years, including the fairly recent additions of Home Plate, The Rug and Taco Bar. It will continue to sell its beers at The Big Smoke and other venues.

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Bottle up: Chilean specialists La Cava add Spanish, Portuguese wines

Sanlitun Soho wine shop La Cava continues to expand its portfolio beyond an initial exclusivity with Chilean wines. While Chile, home country of owner Mariano Larrain, remains front and center, La Cava also stocks items from France and — as of last Thursday — Spain and Portugal. The newcomers include a handful of sparkling wines as well as numerous bottles that retail for less than rmb100.

La Cava has established a small but loyal following, due in part to its rmb20 by-the-glass deal on Fridays and Saturdays. Larrain says some of the new wines will be included in that deal.

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Muchos platos: Three lunches for Migas’ fourth birthday

Spanish restaurant / bar / rooftop party hub Migas marked its fourth anniversary this weekend with a two-night DJ-driven bash. Being more a fan of mashed potatoes in an air-conditioned setting than mash-ups on a hot crowded rooftop, I instead celebrated by eating lunch at Migas three times last week.

After having the three-course lunch on Wednesday — see photos below — I couldn’t resist returning Thursday and Friday for the same items. Sound boring? Maybe but there are lots of things I’d happily eat three days in a row — the Greek salad from Gung Ho, the pulled pork sandwich from Home Plate, the capricciosa pie for Pizza Plus, the kimchi bacon bibimbap at Ssam, and plenty of others.

Anyway, Migas weekday lunch deal is rmb95 for three courses, with three options per course. It also comes with bread and a tasty snack. You can tack on a glass of red or white wine for rmb20.

Quinoa-stuffed tomato with salad, cheese foam and pesto. Lots of fun with those extra flavors scattered about the plate — pistachios, almonds, green olives, black olives and dill pickles.
Migas house sausage with mashed potatoes and soft egg. Different days brought different sausages. I liked the slightly spicy one.


Red velvet cake with fruit. Like the sausages, the fruit changed during the week, with a berry selection one day and dragon fruit, pineapple and more on another day. I’m not much of a dessert guy, but this one hit the spot.

Along with the three courses, diners get fresh bread and an amuse bouche, like the one above. Look how fancy it looks backed by metallic salt and pepper shakers and a wine glass. High art.


Modern Girl: Paca Lee opens Ramo in former El Nido restaurant space

Paca Lee of Gulou area burger joint The Box opened her newest place, Ramo, this weekend in Fangjia Hutong in Andingmen. Ramo takes over the former El Nido restaurant space and gets its name from the first two letters of each of the words “ragazza moderna” — Italian for “modern girl“. As for the bar El Nido just up the street, it’s business as usual.

Ramo offers an airy and industrial space — with splashes of color via everything from the light fixtures and chairs to the wall art and tiled floor — in contrast to the cozier and earthier confines of The Box.

For the soft opening this weekend, Ramo had a lineup of about 20 beers, with most at rmb30 per bottle, including a German wheat beer that hit the spot given the summer heat. The staff also handed out slices of the pizza that will make up a large part of the food menu.

Both drink and food menus will grow as Ramo gets fully up to speed. Lee mentioned adding a burger option and is toying with the idea of morning fare, such as croissant and coffee deals. More details to come.

A Somewhat Steady China Hand on the Local Bar Scene