The bar is larger than it seems, with two separate buildings, tables next to the lake, comfortable indoor seating, a pleasant upper floor with a terrace, and a rooftop deck. Pleasant decor makes you feel at home without trying too hard to be hip or follow any particular design. With its wooden furniture, reds and yellows, and cosy lighting, Red River Tea Room looks like a nice, homey pub.
The menu is also striking for its excellent selection of beer, cider, and spirits. I sipped a refreshing Stowford Press cider (VND95,000) at a lakeside table, chatting with a friend and watching a man catch a series of medium-sized catfish with his bamboo pole.
Friendly staff are eager to help out in many different ways, from parking your motorbike for you (just leave it outside the door) to bringing food menus from various neighbourhood restaurants. They will also order your food for you, which is delivered right to the bar.
Whiling Away the Time
The place seems to be popular with a slightly older expat crowd, which gives it a pleasant quiet pub atmosphere, but there is still plenty to do; the bar offers a wide selection of table games, including chess, Apples to Apples, Connect 4, or Jenga for patrons looking for a laid-back complement to conversation.
On this particular afternoon my friend and I had a lazy game of chess, which became both more difficult and also more fun as the afternoon progressed. Although I had only planned to stay for one, we ended up whiling away a few comfortable hours there. First I tried the cider, which was fizzy and not too sweet, and then a dark Beer Lao (VND65,000) for something a little more flavourful at a fairly reasonable price. Also on offer are tasty local beers, like Pasteur Street IPA (VND90,000), as well as imported beers like Leffe Blonde or Brown (VND95,000).
The Red River Tea Room is the sort of bar you can’t quite work up the momentum to leave. It’s as comfortable as your own home, but with a much better selection of drinks, and (probably) a much better view. — Kate Robinson
The Red River Tea Room is located at 25 Tu Hoa, Tay Ho, Hanoi