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The Boulevard

Aug 16, 2013
by Justin Fischer

Area: Number 10, right where Hengshan turns into Baoqing Lu, just north of Fuxing. You'll find The Boulevard in the same building as that Italian restaurant Bella Mia. It's seven floors up. Just across the street you've got that ancient pub Oscars. In the opposite direction you'll find Pho Real's Fuxing branch.

What it is: A speakeasy and supper club concept by Jimmy Vakidis, a restaurateur who's clocked considerable hours in the wining and dining scenes of Dallas and Atlanta. He came to Shanghai to run the original Casa 13 for Eduardo Vargas. After that folded, he ran Chicha, Vargas's Peruvian concept in the Sinan Mansions.

Like any true speakeasy, The Boulevard is well out of plain sight. Vakidis has found a space hidden seven floors above street level. It used to be Lapis Sky Garden, a restaurant that few, if any, of you probably ever went to. I sure as hell didn't.

The focus is prohibition-era drinks with quirky contemporary twists. We're talking old-time favorites that have enjoyed a recent renaissance, like the Negroni, the Sidecar and the Manhattan. These are supplemented with original mixes with names like "Boo Yah Cachaça" (cachaça, white chocolate liqueur and cassis over crushed ice) and "NobiliTea" (Scotch, Averna, cherry brandy and green tea syrup with a twist of orange on the rocks). They also do a really refreshing modified G&T called "Bathtubbin'" with Henricks, rose syrup, a splash of limoncello and a cardamom pod for aroma. At the moment, they're working with a truncated menu for their soft opening, but once they've got all their ducks in a row, it will double in size.

At the time of writing, food is still a work in progress. They've got a menu put together but aren't quite ready to unveil it. Offerings will fit in with the overall theme of the place. It's largely old-fashioned classics like the iceberg wedge salad, garlic escargot, oysters Rockefeller, chicken Oscar, simple pleasures like a breaded pork chop with mashed potatoes and pan gravy and shareable dishes like mac and cheese with chunks of lobster tail. Once everything's running tip-top, they'll start opening the place for lunch and brunch, too.

Atmosphere: It's got lots of character. It feels illegal. The elevator opens to a tiny table with a telephone on top. That will tell you how to get in. It's not intuitively obvious; speakeasies are supposed to be hard to find. Inside, it looks the part. It's dim dark hardwoods, exposed brick and simple furnishings and lots of antique bric-a-brac. Out the windows is a panoramic view of Xuhui framed in stained glass accents. It's probably the only bar and restaurant in town with a sunroof. No joke. There is actually a large retractable panel over the bar. That'll keep things cool in the spring and autumn months. A white marble fireplace will keep things warm in the winter. Just in case you need to have a sit down with the five families, the space is flanked by private dining rooms decked out with mug shots of famed criminals like Al Capone and Lucky Luciano.

Damage: Drinks are about what you'd expect, starting at 75 and topping out around 90rmb. Food falls in the mid-range with apps starting 48rmb, medium plates in the upper 50s to upper 70s and mains anywhere between 138 and 398rmb.

Who's going: Nightlife sophisticates and people with a penchant for nostalgia.
August 9

7/F, 10 Baoqing Lu,
near Fuxing Lu


6474 7979

Daily, 6.30am-late

Negroni 75rmb

Boo Yah Cachaça 70rmb

NobiliTea 90rmb

Oysters Rockefeller 98rmb

Shrimp Cocktail 78rmb

Lobster Mac & Cheese 88rmb

Italian Charcuterie 98rmb

Spring Vegetable Risotto 88rmb

Chicken a la Oscar 138rmb

Boulevard Burger 98rmb

Surf & Turf 398rmb

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