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The latest technological advance in SmartShanghai's ongoing war to stay on top of new venues opening up around town, The Radar is a weapon of mass diversion, pinpointing the buzzed about bars, clubs, and restaurants in Shanghai, giving you strictly the facts. Zip zap.

Brick

Jul 9, 2009
by Christopher St Cavish

Area: Brick is on the first floor of 30 Sinan Lu, which is a real active address these days. There's a two-story development that's just opened there, and it's now in the esteemed company of a new Ginger Indochine, the new dessert and cocktail lounge Hof, new nostalgic Hongkers cha canting Cha, and, maybe most importantly, a soon-to-open World of Warcraft-themed restaurant. No shit. That one is on the second floor. And just to make things interesting, Sound Blue, a new coffee and jazz club, is just a stroll down the street.

In terms of your mental map, Sinan Lu is the one that runs from Huaihai Lu down, past the west entrance of Fuxing Park, was once home to a Hawaiian-themed restaurant that served Spam musubi, and is currently having its once-glorious mansions spruced up in time for the Expo. This new development is about a half-block south of Huaihai Lu and the H&M flagship that sits on the intersection's corner. Prime-time space.

What is it: Brick takes two previously separate, emerging middle-class tropes -- jazz and wine -- and fuses them together into one brilliant whole. Oh, wait. Has someone done this before? Whatever. It's split into two areas, one a more restaurant-like space, and the other a darker, jazzier lounge. Or that was the brief. In reality, the whole place has a nice lackadaisical feel to it, and with its plush chairs and well-spaced tables, it all comes across as a lounge. There's a piano in the back and that's where Brick's focus is -- nightly jazz performances from 10pm-1am. Coco Zhao performs there on Wednesdays, to give you an idea.

If I understood correctly, there's also going to be some other people from JZ Club, but maybe I misunderstood. Whatever it is, JZ Club definitely got mentioned in there more than a few times. Jazz!

But where Brick is different from, say, Brown Sugar, Cabaret, House of Blues and Jazz, beyond the fact that's it's strictly jazz, it's that its Shanghainese-run and it's laser-guided to smash directly into the wallets of middle-class Chinese. The wine list is long -- there's fifty-plus wines in that thing -- but starts at 96rmb for a bottle of Chilean sauvignon blanc, and there are scores of bottles under 200rmb.

It's a shift from just a few years ago when wine lists in places like these were loaded with ultra-expensive Bordeaux that ended up in Sprite and that's an improvement.

The menu follows suit. It's the kind of Western food best described as Western Food. Nothing too challenging, or surprising, and vaguely Euro.

At dinner, that's pan-fried foie gras, duck confit, lamb chops, that kind of thing. At lunch, it's linguine with pesto, wild mushroom risotto, Greek salad, etc. There's also an all-day snack-ish menu of chips and dips and cured meat plates and cheese plates. Stuff that's good with wine. And jazz. Stuff that is good with wine and jazz.

Atmosphere: It's in the name, mostly. There's a lot of brick here, and it's one of the elements giving this place a comfy, homey feel. The dedicated lounge towards the back, though, is the nicest part, lined with wooden wine cabinets and populated with plush, tan chairs, stools, and banquettes.

Damage: Frankly, there's better options for dinner in the area. Brick isn't doing anything special in that department, so you're probably going to be coming to knock back a bottle of wine or two, maybe munch some cheese, and take in the piano players, jazz singers, and general jazziness. Best configuration for that is The Couple, and I'd say you'd be on your intimate way for somewhere in the neighborhood of 350rmb.

That's with two bottles of everyday wine, mind you. Drinking by the glass clocks in between 35-50rmb, so it's by no means a minimum.

Who's Going: The friendly waitresses say it's a healthy mix of Chinese and foreigners and the crowd leans towards thirtysomethings and up. The middle class. People who like jazz and/or wine.
Opened:
June 2009

Address:
30 Sinan Lu,
near Huaihai Zhong Lu
Taxi-Printout and Map

Reservations:
6093 2005

Hours:
Daily, 11am-2am
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