Relief washes over us as we push through the front doors of The Garage Bar & Grill, having just trudged half-a-mile from the main road. We’re winded, and the swampy chemical smell that pervades the area has nearly destroyed our appetite – which is saying something, because it’s 10pm and we have yet to eat dinner.
All that dreary unpleasantness melts away as we come face-to face with a life-sized, star-spangled Harley Davidson bike, looming over us atop a case crammed with motorcycle paraphernalia. Being much more comfortable around the puny scooters that zip along Beijing’s bike lanes, we couldn’t help but feel that there was something larger-than life about this deep-throated hog. It inspires worship.
The Harley is a fitting introduction to a bar brimming with testosterone. Every inch of wall-space is covered with more such paraphernalia. Motorcycle parts have been cleverly worked into the design – like the beer tap that bears a striking resemblance to an engine, looking as if it could zoom off at any moment. In the men’s bathroom, urinals come in the form of one long Major League Baseball style pissing trough. The next best thing to relieving yourself in the great outdoors.The Garage has the clientèle to match its interior design. On our way to check out the pool table, we overhear a burly fellow boasting loudly about raunchy sexcapades. High five, brother! The rest of the crowd is having a raucous good time. It’s trivia night and the rapport between the host and the teams speaks of a loyal following – he gives them a friendly ribbing for their poor performance in the music round and they give it right back.
The pub grub is enough to get your engines revving, the chilli nachos (50RMB) in particular. The tortilla chips are freshly-cooked and toothsome. If you’re not several beers in – they have over 20 different bottles ranging from 20-50RMB – you might notice, as we did, that your burger (70RMB) is a bit overdone or that your hot dog (38RMB) could have been warmer, but the large portion sizes and presentation are hardly in need of a tune-up. To drink, we had the rocky mountain (45RMB), which, with Southern Comfort, amaretto and lemon juice, tasted as if it was brought over from a speciality cocktail bar. Very well-mixed. Shunyi is no Route 66, but you can still get your kicks at The Garage Bar & Grill.