Helping to fluff out Xinjiekou’s rather bleak nightlife is swanky debutante Rodenbach. Nestled in the brand spanking new 1913 area of Hongwu Road, the restaurant/bar/museum sits adjacent to its sister establishment, Bond No.9, that combines whisky bar, cocktail terrace, night club, ladies luncheon sunroom with posh nighttime Champagne drinking, DJ playing, fairy lit rooftop terrace. Yawn. Let us get back to the beer.
Approaching Rodenbach, you will see the “National Theatre” to your left and the new 1913 Designer Court to your right. The first house you come across is Rodenbach, and I say “house”, because in 1913 this place was in fact called the “Gongyu Club”, where the likes of prominent Republican leader Chiang Kai-Shek and his gang would come and hangout. Nice credentials.
The building itself has kept its original European style, with the inside having undergone “little” renovation. Beautifully decked out with hundreds of plants and lights, just sitting outside this colonial blast from the past would suffice. However, if the Nanjing heat is not your thing, then head on inside for what awaits is quite the lesson (in beer).
There appears to be not to be a piece of wall that is not covered in original beer memorabilia from across Europe and the United States, collected by non other than the museum’s owner Jacky, who spends his time skipping across the States to every auction and antique store, in order to fill his Nanjing projects with bonafide original pieces. Long time Nanjingers will have frequented some of Jackie’s other establishments, which include the Mazzo Nightclubs and New York inspired Tribeca.
Certainly take the time to wander around and have a gander at this impressive collection, but what is most interesting (and easy to miss) is the original Nanjing wall bricks that have been set into place above a fireplace, which show original script etched into the stones by those who built the wall.
The beer selection is rather large and yep, you guessed it, designed mainly for the Belgium beer lover. However, IPA lovers need not despair; the menu features a few nice fruity ales including the house option. Food can be described as “China pub style”, yet a few palleas and fancy soups have been added just to break away from all the deep fried goodness. Unless you have got a few bucks floating around in your pocket that you’re not keen on, the food here is average and overpriced.
Luckily, that’s probably not what you’re here for. The drinks and the atmosphere is what you’re paying for. Winter appears to be the best time to spend here, for sitting by the fireplace and looking around, one could be fooled into thinking Europe was just outside the door; Christmas in Nanjing.
RODENBACH is located in the 1913 Designer Court, 129 Hongwu Lu 洪武路 洪武路129号1913私人订制街区. Tel: 52257979.