Windy City Ballroom | Dustin’s Bustin’ Out the Deals

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Windy City Ballroom is off the beaten path for many people but given how bad traffic gets downtown, the time needed to get to this retreat by subway–plus a ten-minute walk from the station–isn’t really that long (see map below). And the stress-reducing effects of the lotus pond, the grass and spacious restaurant–plus humongous portions of American-style food–is worth it. (There are even courtyard rooms for rent for those who want to stay overnight.)

This is a long way of noting that Windy City has a nice long list of daily specials for the hungry and thirsty. Here’s a lowdown, with full details on the poster below:

  • Monday: The pizzas double in size, but the price remains the same, thus apparently defying physics.
  • Tuesday: A rack of American spare ribs is rmb358. I saw someone attempt to eat this dish and fail. It looked like it came out of a woolly mammoth. Or double as a stage for The Beijing Beatles.
  • Wednesday: Cheesy tuna melt with coleslaw and spuds for rmb48. I have not had this dish but it looks like a heckuva deal. Plus, cheese.
  • Thursday: Two-for-one burgers. These are also pretty big, not so much so they have their own gravitational fields, but you definitely don’t want to fall on you by accident. Get the pair and I expect you’ll be asking for a doggie bag.
  • Friday: Two berry daiquiris or pina coladas for rmb50. Also, roast chicken with sides for rmb178.
  • Saturday: Get a kilo–that’s about two pounds–of Buffalo or BBQ wings for rmb75.
  • Sunday: A 400-gram steak with sides for rmb338. I saw a handful of people wolf these down. That’s a lot of steak, but if it’s done well, it goes down fast.

As for the nachos (see photo above), the deal is… wait, there is no deal on nachos!

There are also options for happy hour and for weekend brunch: I haven’t tried the latter yet but hope to soon. Get full details below.

Finally, Windy City will also be participating in World Baijiu Day. Chef Dustin Merrett will make deep-fried baijiu as well as a baijiu-inspired cocktail called Chasing the Dragon. I’ll be posting updates on this at the World Baijiu Day site.

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Event | Grower’s Champagne and Peruvian snacks in Beijing tonight

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Grower’s Champagne seller Seina will team up with Peruvian pop-up bar Buena Onda tonight. Get a bottle of Grand Cru Champagne at rmb299–if you live in Beijing, and like bubbly, you will know this is an incredibly low price–and pair it with Peruvian eats. For rmb100, you can get salmon tartare and three dips, and there is other food as well. See the poster for details.

Also, I just posted an interview on sibling blog Grape Wall of China with Charles Simon of Seina. He gives his takes on the grower’s Champagne market in China, plus tips on storing bubbly and recommendations for Chinese foods that pair with Champagne.

Charles and Edouard Simon of Seina.

Charles and Edouard Simon of Seina.

The new Q: George Zhou brings back the rooftop and bar at Eastern Inn

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George Zhou was among the first people I met after my move to Beijing in 2004 and I saw him go from honing his mixology skills at tiny bar First Cafe to opening, with Echo Sun and Ralph Ziegenhorn, the spacious Q Bar atop the Eastern Inn just two years later in 2006. It was a quick success story. The partners later split, George left to open George’s in Workers Stadium, and Q eventually closed. Now Zhou has reclaimed the Q space and will “soft open” it tonight.

This blog has always focused on stand-alone bars, on entrepreneurs who put it on the line day in and day out, who come up with creative ways to make their marks, and who often face massive financial headaches in doing so. That’s what makes the story of the new Q so intriguing, because surviving in the Beijing bar business is not easy, but for someone to do it for more than a decade and retain the desire to succeed is admirable.

It’s also impressive how fast Q has come together. A week ago, the paint was still drying, the floors were yet to go down and the furniture was on its way from south China. Now the new Q is pretty much ready to go. Yes, there will be some fine-tuning: there is new staff training to do, finalization of the cocktail menu and ensuring the process of getting from the hotel lobby to the bar is smooth.

But the addition of a quiet rooftop, a 40-foot bar inside and rmb50 martinis to the scene–not to mention touches like a 100 Mbps wifi connection and USB ports embedded in the bar–is welcome. I’ll do a review of this place in a few weeks, when it’s fully on its feet. In the meantime, I plan to simply chill out at the new Q and have a martini or two.

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The Brews are Back: Second Annual Beijing Autumn Craft Beer Festival Set for September


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Breweries from eight cities in China, and possibly more, will gather at East Hotel on September 25 and 26 for the second annual Beijing Autumn Craft Beer Festival. Last year’s event was most excellent due to the venue, the layout, the range of beers (Hefei’s Calvin–these guys–was a big hit) and bites (good to see Palms LA and Biteapitta). And possibly because I had come straight from the airport after 18 hours of flights and was jonesing for some beer and grub (thanks to the NB beer guys for storing my luggage in their tent). I’d rank it as one of my top two-beer festival experiences in Beijing.

According to a press kit from Becky Lane, marketing director for Slow Boat, this year’s festival will be even better given an earlier date (and likely warmer weather), easier accessibility (due to a new subway stop near East Hotel) and fancier toilets (thus allowing one to recycle one’s beer in style).

Here are the confirmed breweries: Arrow Factory, Great Leap, Jing-A, NB and Slow Boat from Beijing, Bad Monkey from Dali, Calvin from Hefei, Nanjing Craft from Nanjing, Strong Ale Works from Qingdao, Boxing Cat from Shanghai, Bionic Brew and PRC from Shenzhen and Amoy Brau from Xiamen. Plus, the Beijing Homebrewing Society.

The food vendors will include Andy’s Sausages, Biteapitta, Hagaki, Home Plate and Palms LA. Here’s hoping Jing-A brings its chili, Traitor Zhou’s jumps on board with its bagels, and Windy City somehow gets involved with its massive nacho platters. Who doesn’t want to share a nacho platter big enough to feed six people when you’re knocking back beer? (Those fancy toilets would surely come in handy for those reeling from the effects of going solo on such a platter.)

Anyway, entrance to the festival is free. You simply pay for your beer / food at each vendor’s tent. Again, the second annual Beijing Autumn Craft Beer Festival: Friday, September 25, from 5 PM to 10 PM, and Saturday, September 26, from noon to 10 PM.

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Funderbar! Zeit Berlin to hold Saturday Bazaar on July 25

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Zeit Berlin will host a Saturday Bazaar on July 25 that looks like it will be a lot of fun. I don’t visit this sprawling German venue, with its dining areas and multiple bars and pool table and private rooms and more, very often simply because I spend most of my time in the Workers Stadium area. But whether enjoying a huge lunch with former Home Plate host Seth Grossman just before he left Beijing or simply grabbing a few German brews while watching sports, I’ve enjoyed my time there.

The bazaar is from noon to 9 PM, entry is free, and there will be a flea market, face painting, sausages, chuanr, pretzels, beer and a DJ, with ‘open-air theater‘ a bit later. Hopefully, there are some nice German wines, too, since they are highly underrated here in China.

You can find Zeit Berlin in the Royal Palace Hotel just off Xiaoyun Road, not all that far from the original Home Plate and the newest Palms LA. Check this site for more details. The address is 城堡饭馆 — 三元桥霄云里南街6号 and the phone number is 6461-8842 .