Directions: InterContinental Hanoi Westlake hotelPhone: 62708888
3C Le Van Luong Street (Golden Palace Building, 3rd Floor), Thanh Xuan District, Thanh Xuân, Hanoi
When planning special occasions in Hanoi, there are two core principles I have come to understand:
1. Ask people you trust where they would go for something special
2. Once decided, contact the venue and plan the occasion with them
These principles I utilized on the recent occasion of my wife’s birthday. I asked around a few people and Milan Restaurant at the Intercontinental Hotel came up. Now, usually, based upon previous experience in different places around the world, I steer clear of hotel restaurants. They often have a reputation for being overpriced, underwhelming and, well, bland. However, every now and then it is nice to find exceptions. Milan Restaurant is one such exception.
I made contact with the Asst F&B Manager, a Mr Thang. Quite the professional, expressing delight that we would choose Milan to celebrate the evening. We emailed back and forth a few times, Mr Thang not missing any important details. Simple enough scenario: pre-dinner drinks, outside if appropriate, inside if not; a relaxed dinner in a non-smoking area, with some kind of birthday cake if possible. We agreed on times and left it at that. Bear in mind, to Mr Thang I am simply some random stranger planning an evening for his wife. But, he treated me as important and understood that my goal was to see my wife treated as a VIP for the evening, which she so richly deserves.
Upon arrival at the Intercontinental we wandered upstairs from the Lobby. As soon as we got close to the restaurant, so I could confirm our reservation before drinks, they knew who we were without me even having to say my name. They were fully prepared. We were warmly escorted to the bar and seated. Shortly afterwards, Mr Thang came up and introduced himself and wished my wife a Happy Birthday. Our table was ready for us whenever we wanted it – drink at our leisure. After a half-hour or so, we stroll into the restaurant, again welcomed by staff who fuss over my wife and make her feel special. Just perfect. Shortly after we are seated, Mr Thang brings the F&B Manager who also gives his best wishes. Throughout the evening we experienced the highest level of warm and professional service imaginable.
So to the restaurant itself. It is a revelation. Expansive, modern, interesting, open-kitchen, large dining tables in alcoves and in the open, tastefully designed. I love it. Currently they are having a Wagyu beef and Jacobs Creek wine promotion. Interesting combination. Premium beef with average Australian table wine. Not sure that really is such a great idea, but if you want free flow wine, that’s the way to go. Speaking of wine, the wine list is substantial, diverse and very high quality. And expensive. As expected. I found an excellent example of a McLaren Vale Shiraz which turned out to be a 2005 vintage, drinking well. We enjoyed this very much.
We both ended up ordering Black Angus steaks. Mine a 300g, my wife’s a 200g. I have to say these could have been better. A little dry, not cooked precisely as ordered and confusion reigned over the vegetables as what was on the menu failed to appear, causing a separate order. Still. It was a good meal which we enjoyed. The bread basket provided (and topped up) is excellent. A range of fresh bread sticks, corn bread and sour dough with a delicious tomato & garlic spread. There was no rush with our meals and everything appeared at the right moment. When asking about the vegetables, this situation was well handled and quickly resolved.
A waiter quietly whispered in my ear that the birthday treat was ready. We pondered dessert menus then, grandly, I suggested we wait a few moments. Shortly, a serving of the chocolate and rosemary pudding with walnut ice cream appeared with a candle happily burning. Thankfully, nobody sang Happy Birthday…! But the gesture was appreciated as we shared dessert together. Mr Thang then quietly let me know that this was a gift to us for my wife’s birthday, complimentary courtesy of Milan Restaurant. A small gesture, but unnecessary and appreciated. Five star class at work.
It would be easy to drop a star here for the main meals being less than perfect. But somehow that would seem churlish. I was looking for a pleasant, relaxed evening where my wife was made to feel special. Milan Restaurant delivered precisely what I was looking for, so five stars from me.
I would never have considered Milan Restaurant without a recommendation. I am so glad I did. When in doubt – ask and plan. Your spouse/partner/significant other is worth it.
After dinner, earlier in the week at Angelina's in the Metropole, we decided to try another hotel's Italian restaurant.
It felt much less upscale than Angelina's, but also far more comfortable.
Although the winelist was jawdroppingly expensive (our glasses of a wine that costs me about 30$ usd in the US, cost 275,000 vnd++ each (and the average bottle well over $100) and some items on the menu seemed much too costly, the items we did order were excellent, and I would rate as value for money.
We had the suppli (fried rice with mozz) and squid for apps, and they were gorgeous. I had linquini carbonara, and while that is not a complicated dish, done just right, it's heaven. My husband ordered duck confit ravioli with gorgonzola sauce, which sounded unusual so he had to try it, and he loved it. Since we'd gone so heavy on the carbs, we skipped dessert.
The staff were friendly, unobtrusive, wellspoken, and quick.
The meal seemed very casual, so the $100 price tag is a little hard to take, but sometimes having a perfect casual meal is worth it.
Went there on a saturday night and it was almost empty. Nice decor, though a bit too businesslike for my taste.
Staff was keen but hardly understandable. (Can't anyone tell those guys to NOT try to put the napkin in my lap????? I just hate it and would like to keep a waiter's sphere of influence right obove the table!)
I had an italian bread salad with roast veggies and mozarella and my husband choose vitello tonnato, which came, strangely so, as a salad on Rugula with the sauce on the side. Each starter cost about 300.000 VND. Although the food was nice, the prices are ridiculous. They even charge up to 72.000 for a simple sauce as a side dish. The two Mains were a)baby ribs with mashed potatoes and b)a very small eggplant-gratin. Both dishes were tasty but nothing out of the ordinary. Together with four Hanoi beers and one small bottle of imported water (Pellegrino)we paid US 117,-- which I consider outrageously expensive and presumptious for a place like this. For a simple steak they even charge far more than 1 Million VND without side dishes. Will I go back? No, under no circumstances. In my opinion this is a plain ripp-off and pretty gaga. OK, this is an international Hotel but that does not mean they have to charge more than one would in Europe for comparable quality. After all they only pay local wages and local prices for the raw material ( two Kg of best quality NZ raw veal or lamb at "Veggies" only cost 700.000 VND) and the food is just decent ordinary fare. You better think twice, guys, you're in Vietnam, not in New York !!! I give three stars for the quality of the food. That's it.