Guangzhou Bar Review: Commune

By Matthew Bossons, November 23, 2018

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As culinary cosmonauts, there are few things worse than watching a new F&B outlet come so close to hitting the mark, but then faltering and failing in so many ways. While, thankfully, we don’t have to review objectively shitty places too often, every now and then we are unpleasantly surprised by a beautiful new venue’s inability to fulfill the most basic service requirements. Enter: Commune.

Located in a constantly-changing F&B area across Liede Dadao from Xingsheng Lu, Commune looks fantastic. The beautiful, well-lit interior makes use of tried-and-true materials such as wood and brick to create a space that feels equal parts library and industrial-chic. The ground floor features ample seating, a circular-shaped bar for cocktails and mixed drinks and stand-up coolers full of bottled beer. There’s also a huge outdoor patio that, we learned, becomes quite full from 9pm onwards (on Saturdays, anyway). 

An upper floor features as well, although we didn’t venture up there on our visit.

Image by Matthew Bossons/That's

While we loved the design and ambiance of the place (the bar has a killer playlist), the rest of our Commune experience was frustrating at best.

Drink orders here are placed at the cash register, with service staff at the bar only there to seat you and deliver drinks and food. With only two tills, your patience is sure to be tested.

Image by Matthew Bossons/That's

Once you have decided what you want (either from the beer fridges, the wall of overpriced liquor bottles, or the limited cocktail menu), grab a table and prepare to wait, because your drink won’t be coming anytime soon.

Image via Matthew Bossons/That's

When your beverage of choice does show up, there is a good chance it will be weaker than expected, in a smaller glass than expected and with an excess of plastic straws (very, very wasteful). Our Long Island Ice Tea (RMB48) took close to 20 minutes to arrive at our table and tasted more like real ice tea than an actual alcoholic beverage. Our Rum Old Fashioned (RMB38) showed up with three huge ice cubes and within minutes boasted a 50-50 alcohol to water ratio. Amateur move, Commune.

One beverage the staff at Commune were unable to completely screw up was a 400-milliliter glass of draft Asahi beer, which came tasting as it should and at a reasonable price (RMB28).

While we could rant on for at least another 300 or 400 words, we’ll end our complaints with this: unfriendly service staff. From the girls behind the cash register, to the folks cleaning ashtrays on the patio, to the brutish fella enforcing some unwritten rule about how close chairs must be to the patio tables, at no point did we truly feel welcome. 

Frankly put, Commune might be one of the most visually attractive bars in the entire Liede area, but with lackluster drinks and service, it’s hard to justify a return visit.

Price: RMB30-60
Who’s going
: folks rightly bored of Xingsheng Lu
Good for
: getting frustrated
Nearest metro
: Liede (Exit C), 10 minutes’ walk

See listing for Commune.

[Cover image via Matthew Bossons/That's]

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