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The China is a chic Asian bar-restaurant and gig venue whose exotic décor seems inspired by a 1930s Shanghai colonial club. With padded leather Chesterfield sofas, red walls, dark wood panelling and a black and white checkerboard floor, the shadowy warmth of this lounge is in the best tradition of a British gentleman’s club. Behind a splendid chrome counter, discreet staff prepare distinguished cocktails, like the Hemingway (a visionary alchemy of brown Cuban rum, Cointreau, lime and grapefruit) – we recommend you take advantage of the happy hour (5pm ‘til 8pm) to sample them for €6 instead of €12. For those who prefer a good vintage, the wine list is enormous.
If you’re not afraid to splash out on your credit card, head to the dining area to taste their Asian fusion cuisine, like a tender medallion of chicken gently scented with shiitake mushrooms and Thai lemon. Fancy an after-dinner tipple? Head upstairs for a good cognac in the cigar lounge, which sports a fireplace and a library of old books. You’ll also find a ‘genuine smoking room’ outside, in a winter garden livened up with bamboo plants. In the basement, there are two free concerts every evening, mostly jazz, soul, pop and world music (detailed program on the website). As the venue is well known for its good gigs, the comfortable leather sofas soon fill up, so arrive early or reserve a table if you don’t want to finish propping up the bar.
50 rue de Charenton
|Opening hours:||Open 6pm-2am Mon-Sat; noon-2am Sun. Closed Aug|