Lounge occupies a space in the now aptly-named Moon Lake Flourishing Garden area of Haishu, amongst several other mid-to-high-end bars, eateries and a couple of chain coffee shops. That’s not to say it would ever get lost in the shuffle. The first floor patio is the first sign that something different lies inside. One step through the door and it’s apparent that Lounge is a compelling, refreshing addition to Ningbo’s booming food and beverage scene.
The interior design itself harkens back to 1920’s Shanghai chic; with its low horizontal lines, vibrant color scheme and geometric room dividers. Both the first and second floor look cozy enough to be a great place to escape the cold of the coming winter for an afternoon cup of tea or coffee. Though technically not “interior” design, the second-floor patio is especially noteworthy, with its own bar and several tables which are either canopied or covered by the restaurants awning, making it usable even in unfriendly weather.
Lounge’s food menu is a mixture of Western traditional favorites and bold modern cuisine. This means that you’ll see bar staples like burgers, pizzas and salads next to more unusual items like Chili Oysters and a Prawn Croissant Sandwich. New Zealand lamb, Australian sirloins and quite a few seafood options come out plated nicely, seasoned well and cooked to perfection. There is plenty of room to explore on the menu as well as more than enough classics for the more traditional among us.
The kitchen also offers several multiple course set meal options ranging in price, with varying choices of soups, salads, entrees and desserts.
The old standard for fine dining is that if the service is done right, you’ll hardly notice anything. By this standard, Lounge excels. Drinks are replenished just as they are being finished up, food is brought out quickly without any mistakes and servers move between courses at just the right times. The bar staff and floor staff are friendly and attentive yet completely unobtrusive and never pushy. It’s an example of the service contributing to rather than distracting from the overall dining experience.
Though the design, food and service are reason enough to pay a visit, it is the bar where this establishment truly shines. Lounge’s bar is run by people who clearly know what they’re doing. Cocktails are hand-crafted down to the last perfect little detail and served in style, with choices ranging from classics like a Manhattan or Negroni to more daring concoctions such as a Wax Gourd Mojito or a Rosemary Kiss. The latter are two of Lounge’s specialties, and are definitely worth a try. To top it off, Lounge boasts arguably the best whiskey menu in the city, especially when it comes to its Japanese collection.
Lounge is one of the more exciting openings in recent memory. Given its location and versatility, it can serve many roles for any night out. Whether it’s a first stop for a pre-dinner cocktail, an exquisite meal, or an after-dinner nightcap spot, you’d be hard-pressed to find a place more immediately enjoyable. It’s nice to see things done right.