Anniversary dinner @ French Grill

We had a very impressive fancy fine dining experience at French Grill @ Marriott last night. This is that one place for very special occasions, though I found that the seats and the tables do not really evoke a romantic setting. This is more a place for power lunches and business dinners it seems.

The food is impeccable: The chef and his staff know their craft and the dishes use top shelf ingredients and are put together creatively and very well presented. But an evening here will hurt your wallet quite some. Besides the ‘chair man’ (should be ‘chair person’) menu for 2mil p.p. we had only 1 bottle of Evian water and 1 glass of wine. With VAT and service charge we were over 5 mil!

The dishes were: 1) home smoked salmon (served in a fancy looking glass vessel, which made access with knife & fork impossible) 2) foie gras as pretty as a painting 3) lobster bisque, poured at the table, huge piece of lobster in it, and you only have your spoon to try to cut it 4) caviar topped scallop on cauliflower cream 4½) Phu Quoc Pepper & Black Currant sorbet on chocolate crumble 5) Kobe style beef with roasted salad, again, a very extravagant presentation 6) Somehow I was expecting cheese cake, but instead they came up with this very special dessert, honoring the special occasion.

Service is what you would expect from a 5 star place: super attentive with a sprinkle of sometimes over the top (but when I wanted to settle the bill, no one was around).

Perfect place to impress your Vietnamese future father-in-law before you pop the question 😀

Now some of my gripes: As mentioned before, the setting is NOT romantic. The table is too big, there is no way to hold hands. The armchairs are better suited for a library or a cigar club. Even I, as a tall person, felt utterly lost in them.

As pretty as the presentation is, in 2 cases it was very tricky to actually eat the food. The aforementioned salmon should have been served with chop sticks, or on a platter, so that cutting it is possible. Similar with the lobster bisque. The very generous piece of lobster could not be dissected by the spoon that we were given.

All in all, yes, it is pricy, but I have paid that much for dinner before, and everything is top notch. Still, I did not feel like wanting to come back as soon as possible (as I feel often with other places). Despite the perfect kitchen skills, A-grade ingredients, creative concoctions, somehow this place lacks a soul. I am not sure if that comes with the corporate JW Marriott ambience, but at times you felt more like in Disneyland than in a fine dining establishment.

Another small-ish item that’s nagging on my frontal lobe was that I am convinced that someone has paid money to fool the Tripadvisor rating system by buying fake reviews. In only 6 months this restaurant has reached the #1 spot of 805 eateries in Hanoi, and they probably even deserve it, but going through the reviews one notices that a huge chunk is written by new members to Tripadvisor, who then only rate the other fancy restaurant at Marriot and after that never return to write a review.

Last item that probably keeps me from returning: it is far off and the taxi ride round trip was 20$

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