This place is hands down the best Western joint in Beijing.
The signature chicken wings are probably the best you'll find this side of the Yangtze River, butit's the combination of good food choices, decent portions, friendly relaxed atmosphere andbrilliant service that make Union Bar & Grille my number-one spot in the capital.
It's virtually full every night of the week, with a mixture of locals and tourists who swap tales ofmodern China while watching sports on television at the classic U-shaped American barsurrounded by booths and dining areas for those with kids or wanting a little privacy.
Located on the third floor of Sanlitun Village, the staff members at Union are friendly, speakgood English and offer an excellent service under the watchful eye of their British managerAndy - who is also keen to look after his regulars and is one of the most amiable restaurantmanagers in Beijing.
The atmosphere is relaxed and unpretentious with uplifting classic music played at just the rightlevel so you can still enjoy a good conversation. Too loud music is a crime on the earscommitted by far too many bars in this area.
When it comes to food it may seem a little pricey, but considering the location, the quality andservice, it strikes an affordable balance.
The chicken wings (70 yuan for a full set, $11) are so tangy that the side serving of carrot andcelery in a blue-cheese dressing is essential to cool the tingling taste buds.
The Union green salad (30 yuan for half portion) is fresh and well presented with a choice ofdressings - I recommend the balsamic.
The French onion soup is a hearty take on this classic dish baked in the bowl encapsulated bya layer of crusty bread melted with rich cheese, and while the ingredients of the broth seemsimple - chicken stock and onions - they're put together in a way that creates a rich taste.
Other great dishes include the BBQ pork ribs and Reuben sandwich. The happy hour makes itone of the cheapest places in town for a pint of Guinness, and if the black stuff doesn't tickleyour fancy, try the rocket fuel that is the Long Island Ice Tea.
For dessert, nothing anywhere in the area compares to the molten chocolate cake. It is simplydivine even if your stomach turns corners ahead of you as you leave the bar.
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