By Thúy Hằng
The quality of the food and the luxurious, elegant atmosphere at French Grill are what always bring my family back here for special celebrations.
Two months after a dinner to celebrate “freedom” after nine weeks of being “imprisoned” by social distancing, I returned to French Grill just recently to enjoy its “Théatre à la table”.
Inspired by the traditional French style of service, the new lunch concept offers connoisseurs a fine-dining experience with French dishes prepared and served right before their eyes. The menu features seven courses, which are more than enough for a culinary journey on a relaxing Sunday afternoon.
We were asked to decide on our main course before we even began, with the waiter bringing a trolley bearing a selection of premium meat and poultry, including Angus beef striploin, tenderloin, rib-eye, lamb rack, Iberico pluma (a cut from the end of the loin), and French pigeon.
We “warmed up” for lunch with “du pain et du beurre”, a freshly-baked bread, together with colourful compound butter. Additional ingredients such as passionfruit, beetroot, spinach, and seaweed not only created the slight yet specific flavours but also the colour palette, which was a delight for the eyes.
The bread and butter duo were moreish, but I made sure to leave room for the many courses to follow.
OCEAN CATCH: ‘Fruits de Mer’ - a selection of succulent seafood. - VNS Photo Thúy Hằng
Soon came “fruits de mer”, a selection of succulent seafood such as Canadian lobster, oysters, prawns, and mussels. All were as fresh and tasty as can be, but I knew the best was still to come.
TABLE SERVICE: A waiter prepares ‘tuna tartare’ right in front of us. - VNS Photo Thúy Hằng
The table fell silent when the waiter arrived with the trolley to prepare “tartare de thon” or “tuna tartare”. As I watched him carefully put every ingredient in a mixing bowl, I asked him where the tuna was from.
When he said it was yellow-fin tuna from Nha Trang, I was proud that Vietnamese seafood was joining premium imported ingredients at this fine-dining lunch.
The Asian flavours of soya sauce, lime juice, sesame oil, cilantro, and onion were added to highlight the freshness of the tuna. And a scattering of sesame seeds delivered a nice crunch in the mouth.
Following was another fish dish, “saumon fumé”, or house-smoked salmon with sour cream, lime and bellini blinis.
The zesty lime and sour cream were a perfect match with the smoked salmon, helping balance its salty taste. It was smoked perfectly, with a lovely fragrance and a silky texture.
There was also a mushroom soup along the way, which while fine struggled to compete with the other appetisers.
STAR ATTRACTION: Sautéed foie gras with cherry jelly and fruit. - VNS Photo Thúy Hằng
I felt a tingle of excitement when the waiter placed my favourite - foie gras - down on the table. The sautéed duck liver was on a cherry jelly and decorated with red fruit. It was the dish I had looked forward too since we decided to come here.
My taste buds were bursting with joy as I took the first bite - the foie gras was still warm while the jelly was cool. The slightly acidic taste of the jelly and fruit balanced out the buttery taste of the star ingredient. Bravo to the chef! His amazing creation satisfied both my eyes and my taste buds.
PERFECTION ON A PLATE: My main course - Angus beef tenderloin. - VNS Photo Thúy Hằng
After a variety of delectable appetisers, the main was finally served. As a fan of beef, I chose the tenderloin earlier because it is leaner than the other cuts. The medium-rare steak was grilled to perfection, retaining its soft buttery texture and subtle flavour.
INDULGENCE: A selection of fine French cheese. - VNS Photo Thúy Hằng
I was more than pleased with the main, and was a little surprised to hear the trolley approaching. This time it carried a collection of French cheese. My mind was spinning: should I or shouldn’t I? Though I generally watch what I eat, I couldn’t pass up the chance to at least try some. So I took a small piece of all six types on the trolley. I’ll just work it off at the gym! The collection included Roquefort blue cheese, Pont L’evêque, Petit Brie, Livarot, and goat cheese.
The dessert, a selection of five French cakes, was a treat for those with a sweet tooth. A bubble of excitement broke out among us when the dessert trolley rolled up, as if we were a bunch of kids. Despite being well and truly full, we all managed to squeeze in some chocolate charlotte, lemon tart, strawberry charlotte, lemon meringue, and Paris-Brest - a mixed nut cake with coffee cream. I thought the fruit-flavoured cakes were the best.
The selection of cakes was the perfect ending to a relaxing Sunday afternoon. Though none of us will be in Paris anytime soon, it’s comforting to know that we can find that special French ambience and spirit at French Grill in Hà Nội. VNS
Address: JW Marriott Hanoi, 8 Đỗ Đức Dục Road, Mễ Trì, Nam Từ Liêm District, Hà Nội
Tel: 024 3833 5588
Opening hours: “Théatre à la table” is available every Sunday from 11.30am.
Price: VNĐ1.4 million++/person, wine pairing VNĐ1,250,000++/person
Comment: Great food, 5-star service, luxurious yet elegant venue, worth the money.