Cocktail at a Classic Paris Institution: le China

Le China

50 Rue de Charenton
75012 Paris

Tel : 01 43 46 08 09

I’m back …. and, so is the China Club! But, you’d be forgiven for thinking they were still closed since the old website saying so remains online. They do have a new site, but the first thing you’ll come across on mostgooglesearches isthe original. Yeah, we know: sometimes the Internet lies.

I always enjoyed the China Club back in the day. I’m not sure why they closed, but the space, under new ownership and no longer called the “China Club” but “Le China” retains all of the originaldecor and charm of the original. They’ve still got a hiply classical feel with heavy red velvet drapes, warm leather sofas and the crisp black and white tiled floor. Warm wood furniture adds to the comfortable elegance of this locale and the lighting is dim enough to avoid the interrogation room feeling of many French establishments. The ambiance is accessible chic: it feels a little special without being intimidating. The ground level is spacious, calm and on my visits – which generally take place in early evening – rather empty. The lower level offers up the same cool deco and probably pulls in a sizable young and pretty crowd with their free nightly concerts. I think this spot could work for an quiet tête à tête or a bigger, lively group depending on when and where you deposit yourself here.

Le China does a decent happy hour price-wise, assuming you want to order two of the same thing. From 6 to 8pm you can have your second cocktail free: not the second drink of your choice, but the same as your first order. So, if you’re going for the classic dry martini off their menu at 10 Euros, you can end up with effectively two at 5 Euros each. Not a bad price, but less of a steal if you’re not in the mood for back to back martinis. But, I was pleased with my Tanqueray martini with a twist so i did have a second. I’d say this is the best 5 Euros martini I’ll ever get in Paris. And while you’re sipping, beautiful waitstaff bring tasty olives that we think were marinated in sesame oil & chili sauce.

The non-happy hour prices range from 10 – 12 Euros with a few interesting sections including “New York prohibition cocktails”, “classics” and house creations. I don’t fully understand the the “Prohibition cocktails” category since it includes drinks created as recently as last year. (perhaps they mean prohibition-inspired?)* The classics include some solid basics like martini, martinez & old fashioned. Violaine tried the raspberry daiquiri off the “classics”, which was made with fresh raspberries and was simple and refreshing. The food menu appears reasonable and features a range of dim sum, noodles, buns, etc.

Overall, if you’re looking for a chilled out hideaway from the typical Paris drinking spots, this somewhat forgotten old standby deserves a revisit.

* update 6/9/2011 Happy hour is no longer two for one and just 1/2 price drinks & prices have raised to 12 Euros.

8 thoughts on “Cocktail at a Classic Paris Institution: le China

  1. I think we went here with Dayne and Sigrid before having dinner at someplace called Divan known for their huge salads? I remember thinking it was a good place too and liked the red interior. That happy hour price sounds awesome!

  2. And this second photo with the lovely flower is the raspberry daiquiri? Quite lovely looking in any case.

    Welcome back.

  3. last time we sat at the bar and this was much nicer, the obnoxious dark hair petite "main waitress" has less of an influence there. i was able to get a second, cocktail different from my first during the happy hour, by simply flashing a pretty smile to the (much younger than me) barmen. they also told me where to buy a pretty cocktail mixing spoon. i agree with your overall assessment of the place. the previous China Club owner also owns the Fumoir and the Gazetta (or something like that), maybe he needed cash and had to sell something for it…
    what did you think of the olives? i did not like the combination of the sweet and sour with the olives.
    i did not realise there was a downstairs, only new the ground floor and the first floor (i like the bathroom, feels very Singapour-like).

  4. thanks for the welcomes back everyone!

    Wendy: yep, we did go there ages ago…still pretty much the same as it was back then!

    Patricia: that is the daiquiri, which was pretty refreshing.

    Turquoise: You're right…depending on who is there, you CAN get something different as a second drink. I think what happens is often with the 2 for 1 happy hours, the bartender just brings a second drink of the same without asking or letting you know. (well, at least that's happened to me in a few cases recently) I kind of liked the olives…I wouldn't make a meal of them, but I thought they were interesting. (and sort of going along with a Chinese theme, being sweet and sour and all)

    Did they tell you Simone for the mixing spoon? We had a mixing spoon comment going on one of the earlier posts and it turned out that was a good spot for them.

  5. no it was not Simone (where is that? maybe i missed a comment from you on that exchange). it was Terre d' Apéritif in the 16th Arr. i went once but it was unfortunately closed because of a Salon at the Porte de Versailles.
    i liked the taste of sweet and sour but for me it clashed with the taste of the olives.

  6. here's the site: It's around les halles & they have some cool cooking stuff/bar/dishes, etc. i haven't been for awhile, but it's a fun stop if you like that kind of stuff.

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