What It Is: This place is still Awana, except at the end of 2017, they turned the front room into an American-style sports bar. That's "Roadhouse."
Sports on screens, beer taps, dart boards, whiskey bottles, hockey jerseys on the wall, tall tables and bar stools. On top of that, there's still the glass-enclosed rear area. The separate menus are available in both spots.
Awana remains mains like Laksa (38rmb-42rmb), Green Curry (52rmb), Hainan Chicken with Rice (48rmb), with some snack-ish stuff such as Roti with Curry Dip (22rmb). Roadhouse has workable burgers and hot dogs going for between 45rmb to 85rmb, plus bar snacks like nachos and chicken wings for a little less. Plans are for more of that Western fare to come in. Beer selection is acceptable, with Goose Island IPA (hail Goose), Northcoast Scrimshaw, Zeffer, and Brewdog on tap for 45rmb. Bottles of Little Creatures, Rogue Dead Guy Ale, Northcoast, Mornington, and Dos Equis go for 35rmb-40rmb each, and they've got Kunekune Cider as well. Which is great, I really like that sugar-sweet stuff that comes in a masculine brown bottle.
First Impressions: Seems like a nice neighborhood beer / sports bar for sports / beer bros. The Malaysian menu's a nice mix-up for the lunch crowds and the people who maybe want something a little more refined with their beer. The concerns said they believe it's possible for menus of burger and laksa (tried it, it's fresh-tasting and flavorsome) to co-exist, under the unifying glare of sports. That seems alright. Let the world come together in peace and unity, with hotdogs and Thai-style curry, watching a 17-year old amateur get brutally faceplanted into the plexiglass on the TV.
What It Is: Kelley Lee, she's coming for your coffee revolution. 45 Degrees is the latest venture from one of Shanghai's most successful bar impresarios; this is the Boxing Cat founder partnering with Cafe del Volcan for a nice coffee cafe that also trades in Cali-global bar bites and craft beer.
It used to be a Spanish place called Cabra. The interiors are largely unchanged, at least in terms of the feel and general layout. The room is oriented around a large central bar area with stool and table seating arranged around it. Gone is the zany modern art of Cabra though, replaced with soothing diagrams of the weighty steampunk-style authenticity of the craft brewing process. Whites tiles, blond woods, Edison bulbs, and white painted brick. It still a clean and bright white room, sort of reminiscent of a very nice Montreal apartment. It still offers the breathtaking view of Munchies across the road, who have, evidently, after 9 thousand years, fixed their sign.
On the menu: beer cocktails (45rmb); cocktail-cocktails (45rmb-55rmb); 10 or 11 Boxing Cat craft beers (40rmb-55rmb); and bar bites (around 65rmb for fries, rolls, dips, sliders, and the like).
First Impressions: As far as craft beer bars go, it's like a really grown up, almost posh rendition of the genre. It might veer a bit too far into yuppy terrain for some craft beer purists. Feels more for people on dates or relaxed nights out with sensible friends, rather than a watering hole for people with beards, mesh hats, and too much hops knowledge. It's nice.
Great prices though. They're doing a daily special on bottles: 4 Boxing Cat bottles for 75rmb, 5pm to midnight. Nice one for fans of Boxing Cat who are looking for the cleaner, trendier experience.
What It Is: Disclaimer upfront; Specters is the bar one of our editors (not me) put together with some people in the industry. If SmartShanghai puked up the repressed hate, guilt, self-loathing and bile it's been biting down on for twenty years, directly into a hole in the ground, then poured cement over it, this is the delicate, black-and-red flower that would creep up between the cracks in the pavement.
It's a dive-y rock bar in a very unlikely glass-fronted atrium. Table football, couple of emulated retro arcade machines. It's half old man's English pub, half art damaged New York trust fund kid rock bar. Judge Dredd helmet, Steve McQueen portrait, statuette of Ash on the shelves, Round Eye posters on the wall. Vintage motorcycles hanging over the bar stools like a 200cc guillotine, ready to drop whenever this joint inevitably gets shut down. No graffiti in the toilet cubicles yet.
The music is vintage and / or underground rock, punk, soul, whatever the soundsystem feels like inflicting upon the crowd. Expect a lot of sudden breaks in conversation as the opening measure to someone's teenage anthem blasts over the speakers. It's built for people in bands, people from bars, people who DJ, people who like odd shit, people with drinking problems, people with "creative" in their job titles, people without jobs. There are iconoclastic mashups of dead people on the walls. Ghosts from the '50, '60s and '70s. Specters of the past, if you will -- do you get it? The booze selection is spartan but effective. Some draft (25rmb for Tiger, 40rmb for Murphey's), some bottles (Ashai 10rmb (!), Beer Lao 20rmb), three whiskey shots: Bulleit 20rmb; Maker's Mark 30rmb; Fireball 20rmb. More to come, but that's it for now. What's with all the other booze bottles behind the bar, then? Mind your own fucking business.
Apart from the regular drinking program, there might be some retro video game nights (they've got Strider, Moonwalker and Bionic Commando on those cabinets), movie nights, some nights where other people take over the DJ booth. It's versatile. It's whatever you want it to be. They might put a Xinjiang skewers stall in the courtyard out back.
First Impressions: This is a critical, horrendous lapse in editorial responsibility. I work with one of the guys who runs it. I got drunk there on New Year's Eve and had a blast. They were playing Celine Dion at one point. I sang along. I got my ass handed to me at Street Fighter by one of the regulars, a small Chinese lady. Everyone I met plays a genre of music that has "sort of" in it at least twice. I really, really like drinking here.
But we have a reputation to uphold for objective, no-bullshit opinionating on Shanghai's F&B scene. So I guess fuck this place. Trying too hard. Perry's for 40-year-olds. Boo. Hiss. 0/5 Lemmys.
Please don't fire me.
[Ed's note: Goddamn millennials...]