... and I'm still giving it five stars! I've eaten here at least five times over the course of my short stay in Hanoi, and I'll most likely be returning tomorrow. For starters, the food is magnificent. Tasty, healthy, and original, it's as if the menu (and decor, and customers, and atmosphere, and overall concept) was transplanted into this unsuspecting alleyway from Park Slope or Silverlake or any other Yipsterville (yuppie + hipster), USA.
Kings of Convenience playing in the background, patrons quietly clucking away on their MacBooks or conversing over carrot juice and lattes, the ambiance is definitely zen. More generally, the Social Club possesses a certain je ne sais quoi, a positive energy (dare I say magic?) that enchants it. The intimate space, coupled with its predominately Western clientele (a clientele hip and savvy enough to be frequenting such an establishment in the first place), sets the stage for meeting new people and making friends in the area.
Specifically, I should share the story of my friend with whom I travelled here who has decided to remain behind in Hanoi indefinitely. A week ago, she hadn't a single connection in this city. Over the course of our visits to this café, I watched in amazement as conversations sparked between us and neighboring tables. Thanks to these random encounters with likeminded people, she has come across a room to rent, a job teaching yoga, and an opportunity to collaborate in some local event production. If you're planning on being in Hanoi long enough to grow weary of all things Vietnamese, the Social Club is a great way to connect with the capital's yipster underground!
And regarding this review's title, what can I say? The servers and managers, while trendily dressed, sociable, and charming, are space cadets. As a space cadet myself, I can relate, and I don't make such claims whimsically: literally every single time I have eaten here, some aspect of the service has gone awry, ranging from major slipups (outright forgetting to notify the kitchen of our order) to milder ones (spacing out on a requested glass of water). Perhaps we've just been unlucky, but this has occurred too many times for me to consider it coincidence. On the bright side, this phenomenon is only an inconvenience if you go in expecting snafu-free service. As long as you enter your dining experience knowing that something will go wrong, the shoddy service is no longer an issue. I, myself, have resigned to this mindset, and this observation is definitely not intended as a discouragement, but rather a heads-up.
Definitely go to Hanoi Social Club for everything you miss about the trendy neighborhoods we all know and love back in the States! And laugh heartily when you have to go downstairs to the counter to place your order because the staff forgot they had customers upstairs!
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