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From the people who brought you Rockstore, Craft Beer Pub, and more, comes Westlake Station. This latest addition to Hanoi’s weekend roster is far from subtle.

 

Situated at the top of To Ngoc Van, the towering yellow villa has been kitted out with a bar, a pool table, an electronic dart board, a spacious outdoor area, and a restaurant dining area. In other words, they’ve got your evening covered.

 

The décor follows a similar style to the owner’s other bars around town — the use of red brick, classy pictures and artwork, and lots of light wood gives the space a warm and comfortable feel. Olivier, one of the men behind the scenes, used to practice woodwork in his native France before he embarked on a life in Hanoi.

 

In fact, most of the space was designed and built by the team themselves — including a wood-fire pizza oven that can have a pizza cooked in around three minutes. Pizzas cost between VND139,000 and VND239,000.

 

From Belgium with Love

 

The drinks selection is comprehensive, with a range of local craft beers including Barret Red Lager (VND85,000) and Ho Tay V.P.A (VND95,000).

 

The selection of Belgian beers is a welcome addition to the menu, with a bottled selection of go-to names like Hoegaarden (VND89,000), Duvel and Chimay Red (both VND149,000). On tap they have the carnivore’s wet dream, Liquid Bacon — a Belgian Dubbel, 8.2% (VND95,000).

 

Their French roots are on display in the impressive wine list, with bottles costing between VND399,000 and VND1.49 million. Yet the cocktail menu is inconspicuous with just seven options ranging between VND75,000 to VND95,000. This is one area that could perhaps do with some work.

 

Grandma’s Cooking

 

One thing that makes Westlake Station stand out is its food menu. French chef Morgane Carte specializes in ‘grandma-style’ countryside French food adding to the homely atmosphere. The winter menu is ideal for cold Hanoi evenings.

 

The burgers pair excellently with a glass of Belgian beer, and the portion sizes are generous. They also serve French classics like carbonnade flamande and a variety of sharer platters.

 

The second floor boasts a dining area that can rival most restaurants in the area. It’s family friendly and has a balcony area with a long table that overlooks To Ngoc Van.

 

The main bar area hosts a good size and quality pool table, and a booth area with a long table and an electronic dart board. The space is ideal for large groups, and reservations for tables can be made in advance.

 

It’s worth making the most of the happy hour which runs Monday to Friday from 5pm until 7pm where all drinks are two for one — with the exception of Belgian beers. Thursday night has a special on mussels which come with a free flow of French fries for VND239,000.

 

Background Noise

 

Another fine addition is the outside garden area, which few bars around town can hope to contend with. The space is big enough to fit 50 people and has wooden benches, gas lamps, the pizza oven, and is surrounded by tall trees.

 

The garden area plus the food makes this an ideal spot to bring a date, especially if you like to have some background noise on your outings. Perfect for those moments when the small talk isn’t going all that well.

 

Overall, the atmosphere is lively, the music sits in harmony with the character of the bar, and the food is delicious. Throw this in the pot alongside a comprehensive drinks menu and a killer space, and you’ve got yourself a new addition to the top players on Hanoi’s bar scene.

 

Westlake Station is located at 24 To Ngoc Van, Tay Ho, Hanoi


 

PHOTOS BY TEIGUE JOHN BLOKPOEL

 

Billy Gray

Billy arrived in Hanoi in November 2015 with the intention of staying for just six months. He didn’t expect that flights to leave would be so expensive, so decided instead to stay and write for the Word.

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