Linguini Fini (ground floor bar)
G/F The L Place, 139 Queen's Road Central. Tel: 28571333
The vibe: irreverently European. In the popular restaurant's new ground floor bar, walls alternate between graffiti graphics and pig-shaped chalkboard- style menus, disguising the fact that the only glimpse of the outdoors is from across the lobby. But you don't miss it, especially when cocooned in one of the crescent-shaped booths, where time seems to disappear. The central bar area makes a great watering hole, with raucous laughter sounding out as the friendly staff prepare drinks.
The drinks: the 10-item cocktail menu (all cocktails are a reasonable HK$58, although some had too much ice) takes old favourites and twists them into something almost new. The michelada fini took some getting used to - Bombay mix with a dash of lager anyone? - but the Peroni beer over spices and a wedge of lime turned out to be a refreshing and zippy change from a pint. More successful were the salty dog, a fresh grapefruit and vodka combination with a salt rim that almost tasted healthy, and the whiskey smash - bourbon tempered with lemon and mint - turned out to be surprisingly gentle. Off-the-menu orders are welcome - the mojito wasn't quite there, but they nailed the caipirinha, and the espresso martini, which arrived looking like a latte, settled into dark, rich deliciousness with only the barest hint of sweetness. Of the bar snacks, our favourites were the parmigiano and parsley cracklin' and the fried calamari.
The verdict: it's the successful Linguini Fini concept of fresher-than-fresh produce in a casual atmosphere. Buzzier than the first-floor restaurant, grittier and darker than sister eatery Posto, it will be the cause of many an entertainingly lost night.