Perfectly groomed hostesses greet arrivals to this decadent drinking den, that’s fast becoming one of the hottest places in the capital to gather for a pre or post dinner glass of fizz.
Built and managed by Elite Concepts – the Hong Kong based company behind the new 1949² restaurant and bar complex, in which it is housed – the Bollinger Champagne Bar & Lounge oozes sophistication.
The décor, the brainchild of ec Studio, blends imperial style with modern touches to striking effect: distinctive upturned eaves, dark wood shutters and low lighting create a stylish sanctuary for a discerning customer base, who fit right in as soon as they step through the door.
The atmosphere is lively and buzzy and, better still, the champagne list – which takes in the likes of Laurent Perrier, Moët et Chandon , Pommery Brut, Veuve Clicquot, Taittinger and, as the name of the bar suggests, Bollinger – superb. There’s also a small selection of sparkling wines, exquisitely presented and served in flutes which, weather permitting, can be enjoyed al fresco in the traditional siheyuan courtyard.
Still for all the excellence of the drinks and decor, it’s the little details (impeccably attired and attentive staff who treat everyone with respect, tall glasses of water and complimentary tip top nibbles replenished at five minute intervals) that help elevate Bollinger Champagne Bar & Lounge from the pack. Luxurious and discreet, it makes for an elegant escape hatch from the hustle and bustle of nearby Wanfujing.
Bollinger Champagne Bar, 1949² - Jin Bao Jie, 98 Jinbao Street, Dongcheng district, Beijing (6521 1949; email@example.com ; www.elite-concepts.com/Promotions/1949/JinBaoJie.htm)
Beijing's best new restaurant: Duck de Chine
Beijing’s signature dish is Peking duck and arguably, the best place to try it is at the new Duck de Chine. Although it’s only been open a few short months, this upscale restaurant in 1949² – the gorgeous new dining and nightlife complex on Jin Bao Jie – has quickly become a hotspot (advance booking is essential) and built up a reputation for serving superior versions of the noble bird, in a stylish, industrial chic setting.
Care has certainly been put into the design of the space: expect high ceilings, warm wooden floors, gray brick walls, red lanterns and plenty of ‘duck themed’ finishing touches. Duck figurines and sculptures are dotted throughout the restaurant, while ceramic duck chopstick holders sit on round tables, adorned with slate gray tablecloths (the same colour as the chefs’ robes).
Yet while the aesthetic appeal is undeniable, it’s the kaoya (188RMB) that is king. Here Chef Tam’s deluxe roast duck is cooked in one of three distinctive duck ovens, in the magical courtyard, for 30 minutes longer than usual. The result? A crispy yet succulent skin that’s sliced at your table and served with a sweet flour paste sauce – the restaurant’s own recipe – so delicious, you’ll want to lap it up like a kitten. The juicy duck (whose arrival is announced by a gong) can then be wrapped in wafer thin pancakes or stuffed in steamed sesame buns, with cucumber strips and scallions. Other standouts include roast duck breast with mango sauce but even humble dishes such as oyster mushrooms wrapped in tofu skin, are guaranteed to tease your taste buds and leave you hungry for more.
The exquisite food is complimented by a masterfully assembled list of wines and service is well informed, well mannered and utterly professional – attracting wealthy locals and the odd celeb. All told, with its winning alliance of crowd, cuisine and character, this 200 capacity restaurant ranks as one of the best in the capital, and the high demand is something Duck de Chine will have to get used to.
Duck de Chine, 1949² - Jin Bao Jie, 98 Jinbao Street, Dongcheng district, Beijing (6521 2221; firstname.lastname@example.org ; www.elite-concepts.com/Promotions/1949/JinBaoJie.htm).