The Bookworm 书虫
Nan Sanlitun Road, Chaoyang, Beijing
The Bookworm is not so much a bar as a Beijing institution set up by the remarkable Englishwoman Alexandra Pearson, who first moved to Beijing with her parents in the 1980s, and returned in the 1990s to study at the Beijing Conservatory.
The bookshop and lending library (a library card costs 300 yuan a year) are not to be sneezed at in a country where good quality English language books are still hard to come by. Regular talks by authors and journalists, and the Basically Beethoven musical evenings, should provide any additional brain food you might need. And if it's real food you're after there are standard western dishes on offer.
Rows of young people earnestly typing into laptops give the bar area a rather studious feel. Whether writing a college assignment, an email, or just browsing Facebook, they give the impression they are working on their first novel or filing an important dispatch to the New York Times from Red China. No doubt some of them are; the Foreign Correspondents' Club regularly gathers here.
In short, the Bookworm is probably not the sort of place you would want – or would want you - to let your hair down, but it's good for lunch, dinner or a quiet tipple. (Reviewed by John Sexton)