From breezy brunches to sunset cocktails, al fresco is the word all over China right now, with lots of new venues this spring. Mike Peters and Xu Junqian explore some options in Beijing and Shanghai.
The terrace at Pop takes full advantage of Shanghai’s skyline views. (Photo provided to China Daily)
The thermometer is flirting with about 40-degree Celsius in Beijing, a milestone reached earlier in many parts of China. But May is a great month for fans of a leisurely al fresco escape, and the heat won't deter many from relaxing in the great outdoors this weekend. In fact, many long-awaited rooftop and terrace venues are just opening in China's capital, especially in the Topwin Center and the China World tower. There's even more to come with the imminent openings of the Hotel Jen, Migas and other potential hotspots of summer 2017. So get outside this weekend, and enjoy a late-spring breeze at one of these airy new outlets or an old fave.
Beijing's Nuo hotel, home of what is arguably the best brunch in town, is opening up for the fresh-air season in a big way. Friday's opening party for the O'Bar garden means summer nights with a glass of champagne or one of bar wizard Attila Balint's clever cocktails in the 2,200 square-meter roof terrace bar. DJ Arquitect is spinning Wednesday through Saturday nights. Other hotel venues that now have outdoor service include the ground-level restaurant N'Joy, offering fresh-shucked oysters, barbecue and draft beer near a pleasant herb garden, the Yuan Tea House and the U'Deli.
2A Jiangtai Road, Chao-yang District, Beijing, 010-5926-8281
Signature smoked veal ribs are a hearty main at F Bistronome. (Photo provided to China Daily)
Blue Frog at Guomao
"Frog With a View" proclaims TripAdvisor, as the now ubiquitous burgers-plus chain opens on the sixth floor of the new north tower of China World Mall. The familiar sight of Beijing's CCTV tower (known to locals as the Giant Underpants) has become brand-new and wonderful at twilight. Only the great view (and an airy decor) are new－regional manager Hill Hong assures all comers that longtime menu favorites like the Montana Burger (and Monday night's two-for-one burger deal), tandoor sliders and the luminous mango margarita are all on offer here.
6/F, 1 Jianguomenwai Dajie, Beijing, 010-8535-1186
A sibling of the 18-year-old formal French dining room Flo Maison, F Bistronome is also in the new China World tower－the restaurant group's more laid-back, less pricy, family-style outlet. The theme is partager dining, which means placing every dish in the center of the table for the family to serve, share and enjoy. We stopped by for a pleasant lunch that started with fine de claire oysters and a charcuterie platter, nibbles of foie gras with carmelized apple and smoked Norwegian salmon. Fish and meat mains on the day's set menu were a delicate halibut and tomato fondue and the signature smoked veal short ribs. Whatever you order, the Grand Marnier souffle is pure orangey-gooey ooh-la-la not to be missed for dessert. Later this summer, the outdoor terrace will include a small market with fresh produce and some pantry goods.
7/F, 1 Jianguomenwai Dajie, Beijing, 010-8595-9597
Dim sum highlights the Sense 8 menu. (Photo provided to China Daily)
Atop Three on the Bund, Pop positions itself as "the first and only American brasserie in town". Put another way, there is finally a place on the fine-dining-saturated Bund that one gets to savor the stunning view as well as comfort food like burgers, braised short ribs and apple pie in a casual and relaxed atmosphere. Sharing the same menu as its indoor space, the terrace incorporates the skylines of both the futuristic Pudong and the historical Bund, offering an extensive selection ranging from weekend brunch to afternoon tea and dinner sets. Of course, with its prime location, the bill is still very fine dining.
7/F, No 3, Zhongshan Road E1, Three on The Bund, Shanghai, 021-6321-0909
Cantonese restaurant Sense 8 first opened in Shanghai around two years ago and has since earned a reputation for its extravagant interior design as well as its hours-long line at the door. The new outlet at Xintiandi, opened at the beginning of this year, is just as tough to get in－if anything, it attracts more passers-by/tourists/nearby office workers to join the line. The restaurant this month added another eight tables on the terrace of the two-floor restaurant, offering morning tea starting at 8 am and evening snacks till midnight, as well as its signature, old-school dim sums. While you may not get to enjoy the pompous antique furniture and decorations of the restaurant, which is supposed to be its highlight, the gentle spring breeze and view of Shanghai's disappearing lane houses might be a good trade.
Lane 181-8, Taicang Road, Xintiandi, Shanghai, 021-6373-1888
The Blue Frog’s hip new outlet in Beijing has a commanding view of the nearby CCTV tower. (Photo provided to China Daily)