Nanjing newcomer Herb&Spice, which is located in one of the city’s oldest districts near the Qinhuai river, presents itself as trendy, modern, fresh and cool.
The restaurant/cafe fronts a factory refurbished art zone, similar to that of the industrial renovated art space 1865. This slightly smaller and more city-central version strikes a similar feel; young, vibrant and creative.
The owner expressed to The Nanjinger how much more beautiful the area, and indeed, the cafe, is during the daytime, mentioning that brunch/lunch options differ from dinner; as it stands, this is the restaurant’s busiest time of the day.
The All Day Brunch (until 4pm) options include Eggs Benedict (￥48), Four cheese mac&cheese (￥42), Savory eggs en cocotte (￥38), and Eggs in a jar (￥38). An assortment of grilled sandwiches for around (￥25) are also on offer.
An extensive tea, coffee and fresh juice list tells me this place, coupled with its in-house clothing store, jazzy vibes and outdoor seating is indeed a lovely place to come for brunch or lunch.
That which surprises me, for a Chinese-run restaurant (and one which I am keen to try out) is its bakery list; almond croissants, mango, cherry, lemon, blueberry and raison pastries all look promising.
Not to mention desserts; the classic Mille-feuille, coconut souffle, Affogato, brownies and New York cheese cake with wild berry jam, mmmm. Well look at this, I’ve skipped the main and gone straight to the dessert; my mistake, cake on the mind!
The star of the show was unequivocally the Traditional Italian Pasta with bacon, mushroom and parmesan cheese (￥96). It was served thus; our waiter parked the biggest wheel of parmesan cheese I’ve ever seen in my life by our table and torched it.
In the traditional Italian way, he melted the cheese off of the sides before emptying the skillet of pasta into the cheese wheel, tantalisingly mixing it pace before twisting its beauty onto my plate. Yep, my diet was at that point so far from my mind that I was able to savour every cheesy bacon flavour that entered my mouth.
Good forward thinking saw us balance out the carbs with a slab of protein and iron that came in the form of Grilled Angus rib-eye 200g (￥158), steamed greens and homemade pesto; cooked to our liking, it too melted in our mouths.
We washed it all down with the house IPA (￥48 a pint); cloudy and flowery, it was a refreshing beer. Other beers on tap entice us to keep trying more when we return. Wine is also available.
The music, smell, atmosphere and quality at Herb&Spice was all reminiscent of home; service was good of comparable standards. For all of these reasons we give this new comer a high five and double thumbs up!
The adjacent Japanese restaurant is also run by the same owners. And, if after dinner you find yourself in the mood for a little more fun, go behind the bathroom area and press the button that opens the wall, for what awaits is a speakeasy world of wicked prohibition play.
Herb&Spice is located at 190 Laifeng Jie (opposite Taoyuan Family) 来凤街190号(桃源人家对面) Tel 58815065.