On The Radar is a weekly SmartShanghai column where we profile new venues that you might like to know about. Here are the facts and our first impressions.
We've got a few that are open for business right now — Beverly, a new bar from masters of the velvet rope Le Baron; and Madison Kitchen has quickly turned around with a new counter at Bonobo — and here's a bunch more on the way on expat Venus flytrap Donghu Lu.
Quick Take: Le Baron has renovated and re-branded their rooftop space. Low-key drinks for the fashion crowd before they get crunk downstairs. Plus rooftop to taste. Go in like you do, playa, and hit the staircase at your immediate left.
What Is It: Real pink, is what it is. Real pink. Welcome to the dollhouse. "Beverly" is the name of the new low-key, retro chic drinks lounge above the club Le Baron, run by same. They just opened to the public yesterday and are still fine tuning the space and drinks direction, but here's a look at it all the same, if you're keen.
Sort of a vintage '60s lounge space tilted towards dollhouse. Tulip bucket chairs, deep pink geometric carpeting, and soft blush lighting offset by greenery and emerald marble tables. Very retro chic designer-y. It's serving me Jackie O lighting Twiggy's Virginia Slim realness. It's serving me Miss Piggy on a shopping spree in '60s London realness. It's serving me Patricia Nixon playing canasta with Liberace realness.
The patio is a nice feature, wrapping around, as it does, the bar and lounge. In terms of being able to actually get in the place, the big bad bouncers aren't on the scene earlier on in the evening. This place opens at 5pm and closes at 2am. Go before 9pm. Go with your gorgeous model self.
Currently, the drinks menu is the same as the menu downstairs. 100rmb signature cocktails and plenty of Champagne and Spirits packages. This, however, will change in a few weeks. They're working on a new mixologist and drinks program. I'm guessing a lot of Rosé?
First Impressions: I like Jackie O, Twiggy, and Miss Piggy.
At the end of the day, Le Baron's got its fans and its detractors, divided by an insurmountable red velvet rope. If you're not into Le Baron, this is unlikely to change your mind. For the older, fashion-damaged cocktail-sipping fans of the club, it's a nice addition. A bit of a more mature, albeit stylish and jaunty, hang-out where you can chat before hitting the LIT-ness downstairs. They're giving you a deeper experience with the club. They're coming for your after-work drinks / date night budget.
Quick Take: Indulgent sandwiches are back again. Madison Kitchen sandwich shop picks up where they left off.
What Is It: It's a step down in terms of decor for Shanghai chef Austin Hu's popular "artisinal, boutique" sandwich shop — just a bunch of tables and chairs; what you see if what you get — but the sandwiches are back, and that's all you really need anyways. So welcome back, Madison Kitchen. We'll take that grilled cheese kimchi to go.
Here's what's on offer:
First Impressions: Same as it ever was. Sammiches are real good and the prices are not that bad. Looks like they're still getting the deli section of the business of the ground but if you're looking for those deeply satisfying, heart stopper sandwiches, have at it.
And also...Peet's, Brew Bear, Stonesal, Urban Cross, and Flask
We're all eagerly anticipating the opening of Peet's, a San Francisco Bay Area specialty coffee roaster and retailer originating in the late '60s. Good time to be in San Francisco, then. Today, a little slice of home for Cali transplants. A pretty famous brand, you can get Peet's coffee in supermarkets (and at their own stores) all over the US, and they're also seen as the precursor and main influence to Starbucks, who were given permission to outright copy the layout of the shop at the outset of their own empire. The latest on the Shanghai venue: They're all set to go and just waiting on their license. Should be one or two weeks. ("Hopefully, next week," they said.)
Joining Peet's in that little stretch of storefronts next to the Wagas. Below that... y'know... "member's club"... is another venue for Brew Bear, a Shanghai-gown craft beer bottles shop chain. They're ready to go. It's a pretty standard bottle shop operation. If your looking for the Beer Lady experience in a more low-key condensed form, hey, here you go.
Third one going in there, still on the same row is a place called Stonesal. Restaurant and Bar. Still behind the construction cocoon. Looks like a few more weeks (months?) for that one.
Also shrouded in the mysterious construction scaffolding. Something called Urban Cross going in right at that prime corner of Donghu Lu, Xinle Lu, Fumin Lu, next to the wet market. Hope it's not a sk8tr shop 'cause that's what it sounds like. If you're not selling me booze, what are you good for?
Last bit of business. Not quite on Donghu Lu but close enough. Flask is now open right next to Beef & Liberty on Xiangyang Lu. They had an opening party last night exactly how you would if you're a secret speakeasy kind of place: inviting 200 people, a photographer, and having big strobe, Who Wants to Be a Millionaire-style lights. Should have to much trouble finding that one. You can see the neon "Flask" sign from the street.