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.
All about that Bund Life this week, my friends. All about dress codes in fancy area codes. The situation is table reservations. 100 kuai cocktails and that stunning worldview. C.R.E.A.M., it's the money.
SmSh checks out the new lux lounge Club 3 1/3, total boondoggle bar and restaurant Bund 8, and the new Kanpai Classic 2.0.
What Is It: Assuming the space just a few steps west of the main Three on the Bund entrance is street-level walk-in lounge Club 3 1/3, a dress code-enforcing cocktails, bottles, and bites lounge from "PR guru" Mimi Tung and New York designer and architect Michael Hsieh. It's a dress-up, sophisticated social affair on the Bund in a vintage-leaning space. The environment uses a deep, rich, and regal color pallet, with palatial ceilings, gold and tassel trim, marble, malachite, and candlelight, and modernist architectural and classic elements — sort of a mix between classic gentleman's drinking and cigar salon with 1980s New York high-end lux lounge.
The concept is geared towards older, younger professionals in Shanghai, looking for more mature Bund diversions than the relatively more raucous options on the rooftops. Dress code is enforced. And is eleganza. Jackets, ties, cocktail dresses, gowns. Style. They're trying to recreate that sophisticated partying pedigree. Fix up, look sharp. Splash out on Champagne, the venue's anchoring libation. Reservations mandatory for tables of three or more. Music selection mixes classic house strains, nu disco, and unobtrusive funk, and the method of overall enjoyment is cocktails mixed with fusion-style sharable food options. The nest that The Nest built. But spruced up even more, and with a house-ier vibe.
Prices are 90rmb to 120rmb for cocktails, and bottle prices, particularly on the vodka and Champagne are Bund-standard.
Food menu is by Bites and Bottle-O owners Anthony Chow and Joey Cheong. You're looking at high-end tapas-ish bar bites mixing a range of Asian influences with Western standards — good to make a meal out of or just to accompany the drinks.
First Impressions: It's a street-level, explicitly niche bar in an already niche neighborhood, so time will tell if they can find the "exclusive crowd" they're going for. Running through the menu alone, though, if you've got the wardrobe and worldview to get past the big bad bouncer this is definitely one to check out. If the Salvatore Ferragamo Cap-Toe Oxford fits, wear it my friend. Service is excellent. Drinks are excellent. Really excellent. Really, really excellent. As were the bar bites. The package is there.
You want this life. You deserve this life.
What Is It: Cue "Midnight, the Stars, and You".
The Bund 8 building is a dusty old lady south of the Yan'an Dong Lu dividing line. The "Bund 8" venue is a "new VIP members only bar and restaurant" — ostensibly — at the rooftop, currently in the crucial "soft opening phase." They offer an expansive general dining area, a cocktail bar, and general and private patios overlooking the Pudong skyline. The venue is called "Bund 8 with Armand de Brignac" actually, indicating their partnership with the tacky champagne brand that Mark Cuban really likes. Armand de Brignac sells the world's most expensive champagne in gold bottles with an ace of spades on it.
Interior design inspiration seems to have come from the hotel from The Shinning. Glaringly bright lighting illuminates the cracks at the edges of the uncanny '70s-ish hospital-canteen-teetering-into-the-abyss decor. The gold gilding of the cage chips and crumbles, revealing the evil that surges like mercury beneath. The atmosphere is thick with the sense of paranoid malaise.
When we arrived last night at 8.30pm there was not a single other patron. We were told the weather wasn't good enough for the patio, and ushered hastily to the cocktail bar so that we might drink against the darkness beginning to seep into our heart and cloud our thoughts.
The cocktail menu is curt. About five or six options. All 100rmb on the dot.
Example: "The Elyxir [sic] - Absolut Vodka, Elderflower, Lime, Cucumber Soda Water."
That's 100rmb for a shot of Absolut and some mix.
We went with "The Popsicle". Which was a shot of rum or maybe vodka or maybe gin with about five different kinds of soda pop in it. It tasted like ash and pencil erasers.
Then we asked for the house special or anything else really.
"Is it for drinking or for a picture," the surly bartender inquired, accusingly.
"Um. Probably both?" Our hero responded.
He returned with something he thought would be photogenic. This is literally a copper cup with crushed ice, cucumber slices, and some leaves. With nothing else in it. It is the thought or dream or fantasy that something could have been created if humanity hadn't strayed so far from the pure and divine. A "Purgatory Mule".
Fearing we were quickly getting involved in one of those "you can check in but you can never leave" situations we quickly paid the 100rmb and made a break for the elevator.
First Impressions: My first impressions is that it was a shambolic netherworld for the ghosts of Bund stewards of yore.
It feels like someone won the place literally a week ago in a poker game. Like just raked in the keys to Bund 8 in the middle of a pile of chips. And then discovered that they'd always been the owner of Bund 8.
Or something like that.
This last one will be real, real easy. Michelin-anointed Japanese yakiniku restaurant (via Taiwan) Kanpai Classic is now open at Chi-Q's old space at Three on the Bund. That's gotta smart for Korean-Japanese BBQ relations. At Three, Kanpai Classic 2.0 is serving the exact same menu, at the exact same prices, with the exact same staff, in the almost untouched Chi-Q dining environment. If you were ever eating at Chi-Q and wished you were at Kanpai, now you are. Conversely, if you ever were at Kanpai Classic at Five on the Bund and wished for a Chi-Q dining environment, they've got you covered.
And so it goes...