Hey it's the -- Hungry Ghosts Festival -- edition of On The Radar (OOoooOOoooo) and we've got a couple recently recently closed crawling back from the grave in various forms. For example, Constellation 6 opened and closed on Julu Lu in less than a year; Tres Perros on Yanqing Lu got shut down a few months ago; and coke-machine speak-easy got shut down on Shaanxi Nan...
1. Constellation Exclusive
What It Is: Bar Constellation did craft cocktails before craft cocktails were cool in Shanghai. And unlike its successors, this upscale lounge chain has always kept things simple and by the book. In a cocktail culture where bartenders are constantly one-upping one another with how much superfluous stuff they can put in your drink, that is a relief.
This is the seventh bar under the Constellation banner in Shanghai (there is one in Ningbo, too). While the look and feel is usually the same, the owners always manage to give each branch its own unique character. At this new location, they've plumbed the cocktail annals ever deeper for mixes. They mix old-timey favorites, like the Brandy Crusta (brandy, Cointreau, maraschino liqueur, lemon juice, syrup, and bitters in a sugar rimmed glass). They make drinks for cocktail nerds as well, like De La Louisiana #2, which is basically a Manhattan with Benedictine and absinthe. You'll also find more recent (circa 1984) mixes, like Army and Navy (gin, lemon juice, orgeat syrup).
Atmosphere: Classic and classy, like every other Constellation branch. True to form, it looks like a 19th century man cave. The lights are dim. It is decked out in dark wood paneling, buttoned leather banquettes, and black marble tabletops. The likes of Louis Armstrong and Frank Sinatra play on the sound system. Vitrines display limited edition bottles of Scotch that we assume you can purchase, if you have the means.
Damage: 98rmb is the baseline. That is what you'll pay for most cocktails here. Prices go up from there if you want a glass of fine whisky or bottle service. If the complimentary peanut and rice cracker medley isn't enough for you, there is caviar at 498 to 998rmb per tin.
First Impressions: Seventh time's a charm.
- Justin F.
2. Tres Perros 2
What It Is: Does your dog like Spanish cafés? If so, they may come to this one and have a complimentary bowl of water while you drink some sangria in the company of old Spanish film posters. Tres Perros was a smaller, more Barcelona-esque shop on Yanqing Lu until most of that street got harmonized a few months ago. They've reopened a few blocks north on Fumin. Just a small café, and a small victory for small business.
Atmosphere: Your dog is lost in translation, and David Bowie is coming through in stereo. Nice place to post up with a book or a friend. Friendly staff, lots of cute graffiti in the bathroom.
Damage: It's basically happy hour here all the time, with beer and wine starting around 20-30rmb. They do lunch sets for 58-78rmb, which can include a beer if you're inclined. Coffee is an extra 10rmb.
First Impressions: The chicken tenders lunch set tastes like "trying to cook for my girlfriend", but the place has charm and they allow dogs. Would return for a beer or coffee and chill.
- Ian L.
3. Green & Safe (XTD)
What It Is: Green & Safe takes up three floors in the north half of Xintiandi with a small outdoor patio and a giant mess hall inside. The restaurant offers deli-style quick serve where you check boxes on a menu and pay at the counter. The big menu covers seafood, handmade pizzas, pastas, pies, hamburgers, and of course, organic salads. In addition to wines and spices, there's a small selection of produce, frozen meats, and spices in the grocery section. Finally, there's a semi-hidden bar called The Bunker, run in partnership with the owners of former speakeasy Flask, with drinks made with ingredients from Green & Safe's organic farm.
Atmosphere: Relaxed and easy going. At night when the place is crowded, there's a hum of conversation that doesn't get overbearing. The Bunker lacks the upscale feel and vending machine gimmick of Flask. It's low-key and seems slightly out of place in Green & Safe's compound.
Damage: Cheaper than you'd expect for Xintiandi. Draft beer like a pint of Hoegaarden or Goose IPA is 38rmb, a plate of salad is around 30rmb, their signature burger is 68rmb. On the not cheap side, Bunker's cocktails range from 80-95rmb (so, Flask and Botanist prices).
First Impressions: Green & Safe's Dongping Lu store has always been popular, but who knows what will happen there with rumors of Dongping Lu closures. Luckily for them, if recent nights are anything to go by, this new location looks like it'll become another favorite spot among city residents for healthy, casual meals, along with Sproutworks, in Xintiandi.