Not far from Hunan Lu, in a residential alleyway, lies The Hermit, a two-floor bar and restaurant of which you’ve likely never heard. Living up to its name, The Hermit is hidden away from the main road in what looks like a contemporary house. Even the entrance proved a bit obscure, as one must press a button resembling a doorbell that enables a sliding panel revealing the interior. Awaiting therein are delicious food and a creative cocktail menu which pays subtle homage to television, movies and literary favourites.
The details of The Hermit are thoughtfully crafted, if not a bit quirky. The ground floor, referred to as “Hermit Kitchen” unexpectedly offers a “Breaking Bad” inspired bar with all alcohol sitting in chemistry beakers atop dimly lit shelves. Little round tables provide seating for small groups rather than large, rowdy crowds. Up a flight of candlelit stairs sit cozy leather chairs and exposed brick walls, high ceilings with wooden beams and an oak bar filled with every variety of whisky and bourbon one could desire.
Everything we ordered off the menu was beautifully presented. The Avocado and Shrimp Bruschetta, Pork Shoulder served with Lime and Chili Sauce, Argentinian Jumbo Shrimp Platter, Cream Cheese and Salted Peanuts spread with Crostini and the Meatballs in Spicy Marinara; every menu item looked almost too pretty to eat.
The Nanjinger washed all the food down with two of The Hermit’s signature cocktails. Sticking with the sly pop culture references, the bartender started us off with a Golden Monkey, carefully stirred so that the tonic, saffron and Monkey 47 German Dry Gin was perfectly balanced. We were next served a “Tyrant” in a Game of Thrones goblet. The blend of smokey single-malt Scotch whisky and a homemade ginger liquor was strong but smooth.
Andrew, the bar’s co-owner, hopes The Hermit will provide a quiet place for customers to escape the hustle and bustle of downtown Nanjing, and he accomplishes exactly that. The high menu prices match the high-end service offered by Andrew’s staff and the elusive setting of The Hermit makes it the epitome of “a hidden gem”.
The Hermit is located at 49 Qingyun Lane, next to The Hong Kang Gallery, Xuanwu Gate, Gulou District 青云巷49号-1鸿康艺术馆隔壁. Tel: 58812953.