Fine dining at Le Beaulieu

May, 15/2022 - 09:28

At Le Beaulieu you see familiar dishes that you know are delicious, but you are also open to exploring new seasonal items that may not be there the next time you visit.

 

FLAMING GOOD: The waitress cooks the lobster bisque at the table. VNS Photos Mỹ Hà

by Mỹ Trang

It was a special occasion, and we all wanted to celebrate it at Le Beaulieu. The usual restaurant has been under renovation for a while and we could not have a table looking out onto the street, instead, its temporary location had been moved further inside Sofitel Legend Metropole Hanoi, which has a cosy interior. 

It's always a pleasure to look at the menu, carefully crafted with dishes that have ingredients in season, varied, but not too many that it blows your mind. Nevertheless, it is hard to nail one dish down. 

If you go to a Vietnamese restaurant, its menu can last for pages, and you leaf from beginning to end, perplexed among so many dishes cooked in so many different ways, and you end up picking a few things and you are not sure you made a good choice. 

It's different at Le Beaulieu where you see familiar dishes that you know are delicious. You are also open to exploring new seasonal items that may not be there the next time you visit. So trying new things is a good choice before they are not available anymore. 

First, we had Foie Gras Poélé (VNĐ720,000), seared goose liver with a layer of cantaloupe, so thin you barely taste it, along with 24-month Iberico Jamon and thyme juice.

The French dishes can be notoriously expensive with so little food and the description so aloof that you feel scared to criticise it for fear of showing that you're not a connoisseur. The risk with fine food is that if you take a bite too much, you destroy the flavour. The rule of thumb is always the less, the better.

I remember once having the delicacy of cold escargot soup, bún ốc nguội Hà Nội, at a tiny shop at the Ô Quan Chưởng Gate in the Old Quarter. The fresh rice noodle rolled in small bits the size of a large coin, while the escargots amounted to seven at most.

We were young and hungry students who wanted to fill up our stomachs. So after the first bowl, we ordered one more. By the second bite, my best friend and I looked each other in the eyes, and we both felt the same thing, but we could not find the words. It was becoming too much, and we just dropped our chopsticks. That was it. We couldn't have another. It's hard to explain, but it's exactly what happened. 

SEAFOOD SPECIAL: Seared scallops with lobster sauce, strongly recommended from the house's special menu.

Next, our dining companions decided to have the lobster bisque (VNĐ 650,000). It's a traditional French soup, very heart-warming and rich enough it will leave you smiling happily. The soup portion is quite large, and if you take one, you'll be full. There's no room left for anything else. So we decided to share it, and everyone was happy. 

It's always good to have soup at this restaurant. The level of expertise cannot be questioned. The ingredients and flavours blend so well that you cant sit back and enjoy being served. The lobster soup is a signature dish that you must try.

Back when COVID first started to spread, and borders were shut down, many farms raising lobsters in the southern centre of Việt Nam suffered. They could not export lobsters of the contracted size, and smaller lobsters, about 300gr or 400gr each, were up for sale across the country.

People started buying home-grown lobsters at an affordable price, and online, lobster recipes were widely shared. In those days, we learned how to cook lobster bisque, though it may not be as delicious as what we had here at Le Beaulieu, it was nice and fresh as the ingredients were good and in season.

 

LESS IS MORE: Seared goose liver with cantaloupe.

Next came our main courses. I went for Grilled Scallops with black truffles and lobster sauce (VNĐ1,400,000), and my dining companion chose Beef Rossini (VNĐ1,900,000), an all-time favourite main course of the house. Bite-size medium rarebits layered with potato with cheese, a bit of goose liver, and a few drops of the accompanying sauce, my companion was amazed.

"It's so good, it makes me want to cry!" she said.

"My oh my, I don't want you to cry, my dear," I thought to myself.

Sometimes, it's better to just let things take their course and observe in silence. It was such a fulfilling experience; we will just let it end there. There was no need for a dessert, this time at least. VNS