Last night, we got a look at the latest entry in Shanghai’s sports bar scene — The Oval — and while it is still a work in progress (they will be in “soft opening” mode for the next few weeks) the place definitely shows a lot of promise. It’s a new (the wood floor still shines) and huge (800 square meters and two levels) space on Dingxi Lu, near Yan’an Xi Lu, about a 15 kuai cab ride from the Plaza 66 part of town. The Oval has 16 flat-screen TVs and a big projection screen, viewable from the balcony and the main floor, is said to be on the way. There’s a TV in the men’s bathroom, too — but what we like best are the private booths with flat screens and couches. You can reserve these areas if you are, say, a poor blogger who can’t afford your own flat-screen TV and invite friends over to watch, say, the baseball playoffs after you get back from your honeymoon in Thailand.
The first level bar is in the shape of (you guessed it) an oval, hence the name. (The bar is not named after the cricket ground in London of the same name and is not a “cricket bar” per se, although they will no doubt show their fair share of cricket.) The Oval’s manager is Peter Mulcahy, who some of you may remember from his days at O’Malley’s. Naturally, Mulcahy made sure The Oval would have Guinness and Kilkenny on tap, in addition to Blackthorn Cider — and he proudly notes that his bar will have some of the city’s cheapest Guinness and Kilkenny pints at 45 RMB … for four hours each day (happy hour runs from 4-8 pm daily — normal price will be 60 RMB). Carlsberg drafts and other bottled beers will be RMB 35. We have encouraged Mulcahy to stock some of the better imported bottled beers found in Shanghai (Samuel Adams, Tui and Monteith’s, Coopers, and any number of Belgian beers) and he seemed receptive. It wouldn’t take much effort for a place to win the best-beer-selection-in-Shanghai prize.
At the risk of sounding like all we care about are beer and sports, we next asked Mulcahy about … sports, specifically American sports, because it’s a given The Oval will show most of the major (and minor) non-American games. He said the bar will gladly open early or stay open late to show a baseball or football or basketball game if people will come and watch. They are currently adding all the available satellites and he is looking into a way to get live feeds from American TV (not Slingbox) … there has got to be a way. If there is a game you want to see, call up the bar and tell them. They seem pretty open to suggestions.
There’s a pool table, a foosball table and there will soon be a couple dart boards. The kitchen is not at full strength yet, but Mulcahy says they will have bar snacks, salads, “big” burgers (starting at around 45 kuai) and steaks (beef and salmon). We didn’t try any of the food … but we did eat dinner at Quan Viet Nam, a Vietnamese restaurant nearby. Not bad. Dingxi Lu is packed with Chinese and Asian restaurants (
although only one Western bar, as far as we could tell we were just reminded that C’s is on Dingxi Lu, not too far away). Looks like a good street to explore.
The Oval Sports Bar, 776 Dingxi Lu, south of Yan’an Xi Lu. Tel: 52308079
Quan Viet Nam, 790-1 Dingxi Lu, south of Yan’an Xi Lu. Tel: 61169330