(Closed) Soul 'n' Pepper



Nowhere outside of Nova Scotia should charge 30 RMB for a Tsingtao. But this cocktail bar-cum-cafe has heart, as well as a few decent single malt whiskies. A scan of the menu yields around 100 cocktails (all 59 RMB), each mixed with a skilled hand and mountainous in size. The 'Last Beer Man Mango in Paris' is a rather deft, fruity blend with a smidge of absinthe. Chen Gang, the owner, hails from Beijing, but worked in an Australian kitchen, where he mastered the culinary art known as fish 'n' chips (50 RMB). Beer-battered fish arrives as soft and reassuring as a well-worn childhood memory; this is divine comfort food served to a soundtrack of pure blues and soul. All of a sudden the world feels like a better place, the global financial crisis seems more like a library fine, and you don’t mind paying 60 RMB per drink. A dash of brickwork here gives way to a splash of wood there; it feels like the homely, girl-next-door version of a metropolitan wine bar. A big-screen TV and a pair of opium beds upstairs offer a touch of popular appeal, but this joint undeniably has soul. We admit it’s pricey - the 4:30-7:30 p.m. daily half-price happy hour could last longer - and the service isn’t swift, but it’s worth it to find somewhere that puts the cynics in their place.