Chill Cafe & Bar
Chill is something in the land of identical hutong bars. Inside, two stylish rooms flank either ends of a covered courtyard, set aglow by a roaring log fire on weekends. On one side lies the bar, all cheese plates, leather sofas, minimalism and lounge music; on the other, a cozy room of floor-chairs. It should be pretentious as hell, but actually it’s rather charming. Owner Remy Lardinois splits his time between Pyongyang and Beijing, and Chill is a sideline for him, but plans for live music and film screenings, as well as its North Korean booze connection, suggest promise.
After a few visits, however, we’ve yet to find Chill’s much-advertised Taedonggang, its rare North Korean imported beer. On experience, even at 50 RMB a pop, it is worth a taste, so put your name on the waiting list. The more readily available ginseng and blueberry-flavored North Korean liqueurs (25-35 RMB), on the other hand, should only be drunk as a bet. Thankfully, a massive Belgian-beer parade of Kwaks, Grimbergens, Achels (40-50 RMB) et al and some rather powerful cocktails (all 45RMB) offer some variety.
The only downside is the food menu’s one-ingredient war against lactose intolerance; its choice of a half-dozen ‘paninis’ (dry, toasted baguettes 42-53RMB), all smothered in flavorless brie or mozzarella, is a grim one. Food aside, this bar is exemplary. Friday night’s ‘rock-paper-scissors’ deal (beat the waiter at said game and you’ll receive a second round on the house; lose and you pay) will bring in drinkers, but Chill deserves more.
Chill Cafe & Bar
Address: 2 Andingmen West Street, Dongcheng District 东城区安定门内大街2号院(See the Map)
Business Time: 3:00 p.m. - 2:00 a.m.