On the edge of Hanoi’s Old Quarter, under a pink neon sign, is the entrance to Solist Pub. This unpretentious little bar with its dimmed lighting and dark décor is a haven for live music heads looking to see some talent.

 

Resonating to the echo of instruments and singers down Bat Dan, Solist draws in crowds of curious passers-by to create a mixed and laid-back atmosphere where inter-table chatter isn’t uncommon.

 

Smoky Character

 

The space isn’t very big — enough for 50 people plus some room for elbows. Taking up the far end of the room is a well-built stage kitted out with instruments. Bands who perform already have everything they need on stage.

 

If you arrive after 9pm Wednesday to Saturday then the music will be in full swing — usually local bands performing a mix of Vietnamese and western covers, as well as some original material.

 

The sound quality is top-notch, although the most striking thing is the consistent talent of the performers on stage. Solist has a reputation for drawing in brilliant young musicians.

 

It’s not all just music here — every Sunday is pub quiz night, with previous quiz themes being How I Met Your Mother, Peep Show, and Game of Thrones. Tickets for the pub quiz are VND40,000 or VND200,000 for a team of six, and prizes are a selection of free drinks offers.

 

For singles, Solist runs a monthly speed-dating night. Tickets are VND100,000, and this includes free cocktails to work up the courage to flirt with dozens of members of the opposite sex over the course of a single evening.

 

Accommodating

 

If sitting in front of a sound system isn’t your thing, then you can escape to the VIP room upstairs. Sporting classic sofas, a 50” TV and a secluded balcony, it’s ideal for groups of friends or even for a romantic evening for two.

 

Booking is required for the VIP room, although there’s no payment necessary. The room can comfortably sit 10 people and sports luxurious comfort.

 

Downstairs the resident bartender Mr. Dung throws together a mix of classic cocktails costing between VND105,000 and VND145,000.

 

The staff are well trained, with a dedicated customer service team, and they’re very friendly. When customers are seated they’re usually asked where they’re from, the staff then bring a glass with the customer’s national flag, alongside a Vietnamese flag.

 

The menu is reasonably priced, with beer from VND30,000. Barret Red Smoky is VND65,000, and a Chimay Red is VND156,000. Spirits and mixers go for between VND65,000 and VND85,000.

The food menu includes a range of pasta options from between VND95,000 to VND117,000, and also a selection of burgers, including the Solist burger, a mix of beef, ham and veggies served up with French fries (VND155,000).

 

Also on the menu are the 200g Aussie rib-eye steak (VND215,000) and a range of sandwiches and sharers such as the bacon-and-egg sandwich (VND55,000) and buffalo cold cuts (VND150,000).

 

Service

 

Solist draws its strength from consistent and regular live music, more so than it does from anything else, but it also has a particular characteristic about it that makes you feel like you can unwind.

 

Solist Pub is located at 65 Bat Dan, Hoan Kiem, Hanoi. Opening hours are 8am to 2am.


 

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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