The Park Tavern (840 Hengshan Rd, near Tianping Rd) had its secretive soft opening almost 3 weeks ago. Opened by Gerard and Kinsey (ex Blarney Stone) and managed by Stephen Sands (ex O’Malleys, Fosters), this place was brought to our attention by some local, loose-lipped leprechauns. The place is beautiful: it’s a 4-level extensively renovated old house very close to Xujiahui Park. There’s a basement sports bar with pool table, darts and large TV screen. On Level 1, there’s the main bar with 50-inch screen plus a tables and corner couches. Outside, there’s seating in the front garden. On Level 2 there’s another bar with less tables, suitable for smaller gatherings, and then there’s a large terrace on the 3rd level providing an abundance of outdoor seating, with another large screen for avid sports fans. Each level has a separate satellite TV feed to enable the venue to show different broadcasts simultaneously. The Park Tavern’s style is basically Anglophile-Expat, but they’d rather not be pigeon-holed into any stereotyped category such as sports bar, Irish bar or American bar. Wall decorations, at present, are minimal.
There’s a happy hour that goes from opening time (11am) to 8pm featuring Tiger draft at 25RMB and some discounted house spirits. If you’re a wine drinker seeking a cheap happy hour glass of plonk, it’s tough titties. Other draft beers are Stella, Beamish, Heineken and Boddingtons, plus Strongbow cider. Draft beers are served from state-of-the-art brewery machinery. Bottled beers are mostly RMB50 and include Leffe (a scarce Belgian brew in Shanghai), Newcastle Brown Ale, Crown, Cascade and alcohol-free Erdinger (gotta have something for those on the wagon). The range of spirits focuses on good quality, less ‘noisier’ brands, including Pepe Lopez tequila, Gilbey’s gin, Jim Beam bourbon and Cape North vodka. They also stock a wide range of whiskeys. House wines are currently Two Oceans, Santa Rita and Fortrant, so there’s room for improvement here.
The Park Tavern food menu is a work in progress. Prices are average by Shanghai expat standards. So far we’ve sampled the lamb sandwich (nice!), a sweet and sour pork (ok), an English all-day breakfast (very good, just needs more toast supplied with the original serving), a satisfactory beef burger and a very rich and creamy Bailey’s cheese cake. The only disappointments encountered so far have been the pork chops (three miniscule, skinny medallions, boneless, with a RMB75 price tag) and a DIY lukewarm chip buttie (RMB35).
Generally, we like The Park Tavern’s atmosphere. However, it is big, so let’s hope they don’t run into excess space problems like Trader Vics, Mediterraneo and Castle Oktober. A test will be to see whether they can attract more of the Chinese Xujiahui crowd right on their doorstep. If they can, they’ll probably do well. If not, it’ll probably be an extravagant waste as The Park Tavern will not survive on expats alone.
Combining a charming villa setting with al fresco seating, excellent sports viewing facilities and availability of more uncommon liquors, The Park Tavern should quickly attract a band of regulars. The grand opening is tentatively scheduled for the end of this month. Go take a gander.
The Park Tavern
840 Hengshan Rd, near Tianping Rd 衡山路840弄，近天平路