DUBLIN

The Irish Times - Friday - The Ticket - - SEVEN DAYS - Beurre a l’Ail, Mai­son Es­car­gots Patés

HA NOI-HA NOI

101-102 Capel street, Dublin 1, 01-878 8798, face­book.com/ hanoidublin ¤

This new Viet­namese res­tau­rant on the top of – where else? – Capel Street es­chews the look and feel of its neigh­bour­ing Asian restau­rants. In­stead, it looks like a mix of New York loft (ex­posed brick­work ev­ery­where), Ge­or­gian Dublin (high ceil­ings with or­nate cov­ing and roses) and Tiki hut (with its bam­boo bar and bright gold dec­o­ra­tions and trin­kets).

Once your senses have re­cov­ered from the dé­cor, this is an in­cred­i­bly friendly place, with at­ten­tive Viet­namese staff.

The menu is lengthy, with dishes ar­ranged by style rather than strict starters and mains. There are many fa­mil­iar dishes, such as pho, the ubiq­ui­tous Viet­namese rice noo­dle soup, thin Viet­namese crepes and banh mi (the French-in­flu­enced pork baguettes with salad).

Sum­mer rolls (¤4.20), the fresher, health­ier sib­ling of spring rolls, come in pairs, served cold with pork, prawn, rice noo­dles, herbs and cu­cum­ber wrapped tightly in a soft rice pa­per roll and served with a spicy sa­tay dip­ping sauce - like an ex­plo­sion of sum­mer in your mouth. There’s also a veg­e­tar­ian ver­sion of these rolls, which are good value at ¤3.50.

A Hanoi plat­ter for one (¤7.80) in­cludes one of the sum­mer rolls, plus two spring rolls filled with pork, prawn and crab – the Viet­namese ones are crispier than their Chi­nese coun­ter­part – and a fat crab claw sur­rounded by a minced crab and prawn stuff­ing and fried.

The only dud of the smaller plates are the steamed rice rolls (¤6.50), thin rolls with just a scrap­ing of minced pork and mush­room, that have been steamed into a gluti­nous mush and served with “Viet­namese pate”, which turns out to be large, thin slices of sausage.

Bet­ter was the Hanoi turmeric fish fil­let (¤13.90) which is elab­o­rately mixed in a siz­zling pot at your ta­ble to in­cor­po­rate veg­eta­bles, fresh herbs, peanuts and rice noo­dles. Although it be­came quite oily, the flavour of the fish (hake ) was good. A fresh crab meat salad stir fried with barely-there ver­mi­celli rice noo­dles (¤9.50) was again a lit­tle heavy on oil, but was full of good, fresh crab, crunchy bok choi and herbs. There are a num­ber of Bún soups - spicy, clear broth with ver­mi­celli noo­dles.

The Bún bo hue (¤9.20) is a large bowl of broth and noo­dles, more of that Viet­namese sausage, and wafer-thin sliv­ers of beef and pork. It’s served with a plate of herbs such as mint and co­rian­der, lime, chilli oil and bean sprouts to mix to your lik­ing.

Stick to the soups and fresh dishes here and you’ll eat well.

LA MAI­SON

15 Castle Mar­ket, Dublin 2, 01-672 7258 lamaison­dublin.com ¤¤ A rare fine evening had the city scram­bling for a sunny seat for din­ner re­cently. While I wait on my din­ner date on the ter­race of La Mai­son, I count no less than five other groups plead­ing – to no avail – for a ta­ble. Aper­i­tifs al­ways taste bet­ter when you’ve re­mem­bered to book a ta­ble. Ev­ery­thing about La Mai­son is French. Very, very French: the dé­cor, the wait­ers, the heavy nap­kins, the tiny ta­bles per­fect for in­ti­mate soirees – and the menu, which is lib­er­ally doused in wine, cream and clas­sics such as

(snails in gar­lic but­ter) ¤11.50 and

(the house patés – a pork ril­lete, chicken liver par­fait, chunky coun­try ter­rine and pick­les), ¤9.50. The menu is split into en­trees,

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