Friday, 7 May 2010

Viet Grill – It’s as good as it gets over here….

Whilst we enjoyed our meal at Song Que, it left us a tad disappointed. As we both knew Vietnamese food is a lot better than that. The broth for the Pho was excellent, but it would have to be. As if any self-respecting Vietnamese restaurant serves up a limp sipid broth for their Pho then they should not be in business. Ahh like that chain Pho. Utter garbage, they even served the stock was luke warm. Disgraceful.
It’s amazing how people writing blogs, has really opened up a new sphere on restaurant reviews. Gone are the days of your over paid newspaper critics pushing for free meals for a good review. I’ve seen a few recently, and in the restaurant we cooked a fair few free meals for reviewers. So nowadays I’m more inclined to believe bloggers than professional reviewers.
So after reading quite a few blogs on the experiences at Viet Grill, which were all mostly positive. This is always a good thing. When 20 people say something is good it kinda is, well most of the time. But you can more or less spot the fake ones these days.
So as we have some friends who are making their way into Asia for the first time. We wanted to give them a taste of how good Vietnamese food is. It was also their first time out East, as pure Westerners, the East is a mysterious place for them, only glimpses of stories in the metro in the morning. But they were keen to come all the way over here. So we couldn’t say no. 
The interior of the Viet Grill is pretty swish, which is in stark contrast to the flashing neon sign on the outside. Lots of dark wood and moody green lighting. A complete change to other Vietnamese joints on the same road.
We were seated next to a fish tank of 3 bored looking fish that just stared at us during our whole time there. Reminded me of that scene in Monty Pythons Meaning of Life right before Mr Creosote enters the restaurant. Thankfully he wasn’t there that night.
The menu is long and varied, with some classic Vietnamese dishes, and some Viet Grill variations.
We started off with the the mixed starter platter was pretty good, although the highlight was the chilli salt and pepper fried squid, which had a lovely light crust to it. Lush. The deep fried spring rolls were scrumptious also, but did not match the fresh salad rolls, which we ordered as another starter. Just to get the party going you see.
These had that fantastic Vietnamese mint which has a kinda aniseed taste to it. Truly delicious and fresh. Best salad rolls I’ve had outside of Vietnam for sure.
The best lunch I ever had in Vietnam was Bun Cha. Its bar-b-q’d pork, served with white rice noodles, some salad and a fish sauce dip. Simplicity in its purest form. Viet Grill does it as a one pot meal. So the dip is below the noodles and the pork on top. It was good, but nothing like it’s original Hanoi counterpart.
Lina had the Bun Bo Hue, a spicy Pho originally from Hue. As with any self respecting Vietnamese restaurant if you cannot do a good Pho, you shouldn’t be in business. That’s why Viet Grill are still in business, the broth had good depth and a little spicy but not too much. T’was a great of pho.
Our friends stuck with something they could understand off the menu. It didn’t look too exciting and I cannot actually remember what they had, but they said it tasted great, and they were very happy.
With the amount of drinks we had before we ordered and during the meal, the bill was a little steep, which is easily done in a quality place like this where you really want to eat everything off the menu. The service was sometimes a little too much. One of us was running a few minutes late, but 3 or 4 waiters kept coming over to remove the cutlery from the empty seat.  It was a constant fight to keep them there. But this did mean they cleared away any empty plates right away. Which is a good thing.
Will be returning to Viet Grill really soon, but hopefully spending a little less.
Afterwards we stopped in at the Electric Showrooms on our way back to Old Street tube. Great place, it was a little quiet, but it was 11pm on a Wednesday night. So all can be forgiven.
I really like interesting odd pubs, and the Electric Showrooms definitely fits the bill. I’ve found my next set of Xmas lights, but how am I to steal that flashing peacock out back.
Although we never ate anything, the menu looked pretty good. Nice and simple. Good selection of beers and bitters. Good wine list to keep our wine head of the night happy. Must really explore this part of London much much more. 

Viet Grill The Vietnamese Kitchen on Urbanspoon
Electricity Showrooms on Urbanspoon

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