A no-frills Belgian bistro with a few twists
The latest spot to open at the corner of Xinle and Fumin roads covers every craving, from sweet options with a variety of pastries, to sophisticated sandwiches at lunch and selected natural wines.
Crave is the new neighborhood favorite, run by the lovely couple Holly Lian and Yannick De Brouwer.
Lian, a chef who studied bakery and French cooking, and De Brouwer, a bar manager and DJ are both driven by a passion for good wine and delicious food.
Their passions have combined to culminate in Crave.
"We started to think about this concept less than a year ago," Yannick said. "The idea to have a small cafe/bakery during daytime and a mini bistro at night came quite naturally.
"As a huge wine lover, I also wanted to promote the style of wine I like. The whole thing is wrapped in a tasteful and a good musical atmosphere."
In the bustling neighborhood of coffee shops and bars, Crave has drawn a trendy crowd. It will very soon extend its opening hours to evening and turn into a vibrant bar, where dimmed lights transform the atmosphere, a space in which a DJ's table plays lounge music and great wine flows.
Given Yannick's home-nation Belgium, the interior style has been inspired and designed by the charm of a Belgian bistro – an estaminet. Vladimir Mirabeau, the designer of Crave, recreated the friendly vibes of these Belgian bistros where people can gather and meet around a glass of wine and homely food. He reuses the vintage style of an estaminet with wooden frames and modernist lines. The use of retro chairs and formica tables help to bring a sense of nostalgia to a bar setting. A large wine fridge along one of the walls provides a large offering of wine while itself also being a dramatic feature.
The food menu is equally attractive. All of their pastries and bread are homemade and fresh from the day. The sandwiches are original and sophisticated. One can customize by choosing the type of bread (butter bun, toast or croissant). Each option comes with thoughtful ingredients and sauces layered together.
As Yannick says, there are plenty of other cafes or new wine bars serving food in town. But they wanted to bring a few twists. "Being a Belgian, I wanted to bring a little Belgian dimension to the drink list and the menu, which can be slightly different from a French place." he said.
Another particular focus is the music selection that is constantly revised and with a professional sound installation in order to make possible DJ performances at any time of the day.
Opening hours: 9am-6pm
Address: 218 Xinle Rd
Average price: 100 yuan (US$15.67)