Aug 18 2012
Located on the narrow but often busy Duong Ven Ho, which runs along the southern edge of West Lake, Commune has an enviable position overlooking the lake, and, while not the most convenient location, has a lot else going for it besides: good food, WiFi and a relaxed ambiance.
Set-up as a joint work/cafe space — or, as they themselves say, “a collaborative office, creative and social enterprise hub, cafe and bar”. Commune has eating and drinking areas on the ground and top floors, while the middle floor is given over to rented office space.
Commune opened earlier this year to the usual glowing here’s-a-new-place reviews, and it seems to be keeping up the high standards.
The food menu is presented on a simply printed A4 sheet attached to a clipboard, and offers a good range of breakfast, lunch and noshing options.
Breakfast is available until 15:00 during the week and 17:00 at weekends, making it perfect for those lazy Sundays, and offers toast through to granola through to a full big breakfast fry up — there’s a wider choice at weekends. Sandwiches and salads are available daily until 17:00 and I can highly recommend the roast pumpkin and aubergine salad with feta cheese and mustard dressing, and the roast aubergine sandwich. A big shout also goes out to the bread, which is supplied by Donkey Bakery: the range includes German dark rye and multigrain, and it’s good enough to eat even without the peanut butter, cheese or roast aubergine.
If you’re there after 17:00 you’ll have to choose from the small plates and bowls or sharing boards, which are served until 22:00. Commune is not the place to come for a “proper” evening meal, but if you want to enjoy a chat with friends over a beer and some hearty snacks, the choice includes (excellent) hummus, potatas bravas with homemade relish and aioli, homemade chicken liver pate and Moroccan meatballs with tomato salsa. Go for the carnivore board — barbecue ribs, buffalo wings and potatas bravas — if you’re particularly hungry. Everything we’ve tried there has been freshly prepared and delicious.
The drinks menus are innovatively presented in hardback children’s books, so you can relive your childhood while selecting which beer to drink. Juices and smoothies, beer, wine, spirits and cocktails, hot and soft drinks are available at prices on a par with other Western-style establishments in Hanoi — and water’s free and presented in a wine bottle, a nice touch. We’ve heard very good things about the coffee, too.
Apart from the food and drinks, the staff and management are friendly and generally efficient, although some kind of bell or intercom system on the roof would be useful. The quirky decor really makes the place feel a mix of cosy, chilled and just… cool. Look out for the paintings of the bird and cage and the motorbikes — the latter in the room on the top floor.
The roof terrace is another stand-out attraction, with possibly the best view of West Lake in Hanoi. A mix of seating is on offer here: wooden folding chairs lined up to face the lake, a table for six, stools by a high table and a low seating area at the back, just right for a sunny afternoon spent with friends drinking beer. Yes, I’ve been there, done that.
The one downside of Commune is that it’s not easy to find. The road is long and changes name numerous times — another 20 Duong Ven Ho a kilometre or so away doesn’t help either — so it can be confusing. Have a look at the map on the website if you can and note that it’s at the Lac Long Quan end of the street, next to a vegetarian restaurant.
If you’re on a ride around West Lake it should definitely be on your list of places to stop for a coffee or a bite to eat, and even if you’re not, it’s worth the trip if you want a change from the Old Quarter joints and have a few hours to spare.
Commune really does have it all: relaxed vibe, top staff, fantastic food and a view to die for.
20A Duong Ven Ho, Tay Ho, Hanoi
T: (04) 6684 7903
Open daily 07:00-24:00
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