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Hot Tables: 'Basic bish' cocktails, Annie's fine dining and more

The latest on Beijing's restaurants and bars

Hot Tables is our round-up of the city's latest (and greatest) food and drink news in bite-sized chunks, covering new openings, new menus, new dishes – hell, new reasons to live and breathe. Sometimes a sprinkling of closures, too, because this is Beijing. Anyhow, here's what's on our radar this week – look for full reviews in the coming weeks.

50/50

With cocktail names such as Basic Bish and Twerk, just-opened Xingfucun cocktail bar 50/50 is a playful new antidote for those suffering from speakeasy-fatigue – particularly in a stretch that's already home to swanky bars like Inception. Made with light rum, pumpkin purée, maple syrup and seltzer, the aforementioned Basic Bish (90RMB) is an ode to autumn's pumpkin-spice-latte-at-Starbucks obsession, while Twerk (80RMB) is a spicy and smoky cocktail made with mezcal, bell pepper juice, Thai chillies and lime.

Happy hour runs from 7 to 9.30pm, where drinkers can enjoy buy one, get one free drinks from a limited selection of cocktails. Currently the happy hour menu is a tribute to winter, and features warming holiday drinks such as mulled wine, bacon hot toddys and lemon curd rum.

50/50's name reflects the owner's love of contrasts (and desire to not be boxed into any one category) – hang out in its moody main space or lounge in the brightly illuminated private back room; quaff pumpkin spice cocktails and bacon hot toddys, or sip on Château du Breuil calvados. There's no right or wrong here, and we couldn't be more on board with that.

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55 Xingfucun Zhong Lu (Sanlitun, --select--)

Ponte of no return

Annie's. Beijing institution and arguably the saviour of many a can't-be-arsed dinner plan. Having served up reliable Italian fare for the last 22 years, the restaurant chain has now made the momentous move of launching a new fine dining concept, called Ponte, out near Liangmaqiao.

Aiming to 'bridge the gap to Italy' (ponte means 'bridge' in Italian), the sprawling eatery's décor pays homage to old-school espresso bars, complete with tiled floors, hardwood counters and leather-lined booths. Not content with only serving food, Ponte is also equipped with Ponte Deli, a casual offshoot for those after less formal dining that also sells cheese, pasta, freshly baked bread, authentic Italian olive oil and balsamic vinegar, as well as cured meats. Will it become as indispensable a part of Beijing life as regular Annie's? Only time will tell.

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6 Dongsihuan Bei Lu (Liangmaqiao, --select--)
As easy as pie

As easy as pie

Already serving up standard Australian pub fare such as fish 'n' chips and burgers (though there's sadly still no parma as of yet), Perth-based hopheads Little Creatures have now branched out into meat pies. Served only on Thursdays, Little Creatures' beef and stout pies (68RMB) feature generous chunks of beef in gravy encased in buttery, thick-crust pastry. No insipid, watery mince or soggy pastry bottoms here – these pies are the real deal. Pair them with Little Creatures' Fuggle stout for 88RMB and you've got a complete winter meal.

Mosto celebrates the big 1-0

This month, Nali Patio fixture Mosto is celebrating its tenth anniversary, and to mark the occasion they're handing over the keys to their kitchen to restaurants around Beijing in what's a delicious display of gastrodiplomacy. From November 29 to December 8, chefs from Migas, Obentos, TRB and Hatsune will be preparing three- to four-course tasting menus at Mosto, with each restaurant taking on a two-day shift. Mosto themselves will also be kicking off the ten-day celebrations by debuting their new shared plates menu. Priced at 388RMB, each diner will enjoy a tasting menu plus free-flow house wine, beer and bubbles. A TRB meal for 388RMB? Yas please. Seats are limited to 40 per day, so book your spot by contacting Mosto at 5208 6030.

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81 Sanlitun Lu (Sanlitun, --select--)

Root Pop uprooted?

Hit by a series of kitchen regulations affecting all Shuangjing restaurants, vegan café Root Pop has temporarily suspended food service and is currently only serving up coffees and smoothies. The good news, however, is that Root Pop can now also be found in the CBD. Head to Bruno Caffe in Yintai Centre’s basement to still get your guilt-free dose of vegan burgers, salads, wraps, hotdogs, sweet treats and more.

Bruno Caffe Lower ground, Yintai Centre, 2 Jianguomenwai Dajie, Chaoyang district (open 9am-9pm daily)

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3-22 Baiziwan Lu (Chaoyang, --select--)

Sweet baked potatoes in jail

In case you missed the news, there's a new sheriff in town – one who's locking up all of Beijing's outlawed sweet potatoes. Roasted then smothered in an assortment of toppings previously thought to be unnecessary, these priced-up spuds may very well be the final nail in the coffin for Sanlitun Bar Street's formerly debauched ways.

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By: Patrick Moore

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