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[Radar]: The Apartment

Modeled on a New York loft-style lounge, The Apartment is a stylish but relaxed lounge space split into two rooms -- a larger group sitting area and a smaller dinning room with a few tables. They do drinks, they do food, they have a nice rooftop patio...
2010-05-28 12:05:00
Area: The Apartment is the latest bar / lounge to open up in the converted warehouse complex on Yongfu Lu, a distinction they inherited from late night club Shiva Lounge -- a distinction they will briefly hold until whiskey bar Tam O’ Shanter opens "very soon".

The Apartment is the upstairs neighbor of el Coctel (but a different entrance), in the same building as The Shelter, Shiva Lounge, the new Rhumerie Bounty, a few boutique stores, a spa... That's right around the corner from JZ Club, Tara 57, Boxing Cat Brewery, and the just-launching Mistral (tapas & wine). Lot's o' action on Yongfu Lu these days, and up there on Fuxing Lu.

What is it: Luxebar – Diningroom – Lounge. The Apartment comes to us from former movers and shakers of the Theme Pub empire (Zapata's, O'Malley's), although it represents the opposite end of the spectrum. Modeled on a New York loft-style lounge, The Apartment is a stylish but relaxed lounge space split into two rooms -- a larger group sitting area and a smaller dinning room with a few tables.

Groups of couches and tables, one of those Middle Eastern hookah beds, brick walls, piano and hand drums set up for live music (four nights a week, jazz). It's well-groomed and comfortable. Firmly for an adult, professional crowd.

And then the rooftop upstairs patio. It's on the rooftop of that building, and is nice and spacious, open-air, also New York-ish, serviced by it own bar and a pizza kitchen. It's a really nice patio space, unencumbered by surrounding buildings. There's also a VIP room on the roof, which is intended to serve as the headquarters for the Shanghai chapter of The Savages, an international social group. Although The Savages will be utilizing the space for whatever it is they do a few nights a week, it will be available to private parties when the renovations are finished.

Food and drink: it's a full cocktail menu with all the staples, and they had us lingering over the pitcher section -- pitchers of Sangria, pitchers of Sex on the Beach, pitchers of Mojito. On draft is San Miguel and Vedett. Good selection of bottles (Corona, VB, Pure Blonde). Food-wise they're doing gourmet pizzas, lots of sharable appetizers, and their full dinner menu will come available on June 15, which is when their chef starts. Legalities preclude the naming of said chef, although if you're familiar with Shanghai's dining landscape you'll recognize the name and will probably be curious about what he'll bring to The Apartment. They're finalizing the menu now, and it will be available on June 15. At that point, they’re planning to be open for lunch as well.

Atmosphere: It's a nice place. It's relaxed, mature, and upscale without being excessively "rich". It's casual and comfortable. Feels like it's in the same ballpark as Lounge18 and Mesa and a few other well-groomed Shanghai lounges, although it doesn't radiate the same self-importance or self-satisfaction, as do other pretenders to the genre. Yeah, it's a nice place. Music is hassle-free funk, soul, reggae, Hed Kandi house.

Damage: Drinks start at 50rmb. Pints are in the 50rmb range. The aforementioned pitchers start at 180rmb. Wine starts at 255rmb. The gourmet pizza is 70rmb or so. I always forget prices. I forgot to ask about food. If you're in your 30s, have an alright paying job and don't mind paying the standard "proper cocktail" price, it's nothing shocking.

Who’s going: Owners, investors, managers, chef, whatevers, are all veterans of the Shanghai F&B circuit so I would expect a crowd of regulars that knows each other through work -- industry people. It also feels like it's more of an Anglo bent, and I would expect more of a native English-speaking, 30-something lounge crowd. I'm thinking more Australians and Brits than French and Italians.

Although, of course, all of us around the world are powerless to the siren's song of a nice patio in the Shanghai summer...

Ed's note: The Apartment is currently "soft open". Expect a grand opening party sometime in the next few weeks. The gourmet pizzas are available, but the full dining menu is still being finalized and will be available on June 15.