Monday, February 18, 2008

Valentine's Surprise

As everyone knows it was Valentine's day last thursday and it was my first time that i have had a boyfriend on Valentines day, so I joined the group of people that like valentines day now rather than thinking that it is just an excuse for hallmark to make more money... So Frankie met me at my place and we jumped into a cab to Surry Hills...I didn't know where we were going and was trying to think of all the places in Surry Hills when Frankie accidentally let it slip while he was talking on the phone to his friend...very funny.

Red Lantern Restaurant! I had been wanting to go there for ages after watching the documentary heat in the kitchen which followed Red Lantern, Aria and Restaurant Balzac. So I was very happy he chose that restaurant. He was meant to be working on Thursday night too and cancelled at the last minute, so we were lucky to get a table. They were taking bookings for 2 seating times, 6pm and 8pm and seeing as our booking was for 6pm, we had to be out of there by 8 (although we stayed until about 8:30 and then were asked if we wanted to move to a back table, which i thought was very nice).

There was a set menu (above) for $75 per person (there was also a vegetarian option). The service was excellent as well as the food. We had the nicest bottle of wine too - Envoy Pinot Gris, which I can't find anywhere to buy, so if someone has seen it, let me know!

Soft Rice Paper Rolls

First up were the soft rice paper rolls with Yamba Prawns, pork, vermicelli, perilla leaves and garlic chives. The fresh spring rolls are my favourite vietnamese entree. These looked perfect too and tasted great. We were then presented with this bento type box of different entrees.

Pacific Oysters w/ tamarind and shallot dressing

These were delicious. I will usually just have oysters natural with lemon, but it is always nice to try them in a different style. Se fresh as well.

Twice cooked Calamari stuffed w/ prawn, pork and water chestnuts

This was so tasty. The different textures were perfect and the salsa underneath complimented the calamari perfectly.

Lightly battered salt and pepper soft shell crab

I had never had soft shell crab before but had read and heard about it so many times. I didn't know what i was expecting, but i couldn't believe how easy to eat it was. I didn't think you could get the shell that soft! Went so well with the dipping sauces as well.

Fragrant Beef w/ lemongrass wrapped in betel leaf

Last in the bento box of goodies was the beef wrapped in betel leaf. It was very fragrant. I don't know if anyone has had a dish from a vietnamese restaurant called "shaking beef" but it was very similar to this.

Next up was a salad

Roast Duck, Banana flower blossom, pickled vegetables and fresh herbs

Duck is one of my favourite meats, so i was glad it was included in the menu. It was so tender and juicy as well.

Grain Fed Sirloin w/ a salad of glass noodles and herbs

We got 2 main courses with rice to share. First was the beef salad. We sort of hacked into this before i remembered to take a photo, so that's why it looks a bit messy... This was quite similar to the duck salad but more "tangy". There was heaps of tender beef in there which was great too. Normally you get these salads with not much meat and filled with noodles.

Steamed Barramundi w/ shitake mushrooms, ginger and shallot

The fish was beautiful, although i usually steer clear of whole fish cause I am always paranoid that i am going to get a bone stuck in my throat which sort of interferes with the pleasure of eating the fish.

White Chocolate, lychee and water chestnut parfait

Finally for dessert we were given a parfait. It was the perfect way to end the meal. Especially as I love lychees. The fresh ones though, not the ones that are drowned in syrup in a can, but they are good too. I used to eat lychees and ice cream all the time, yum! It was such a good menu and I didn't feel stuffed afterwards either, cause everything was pretty light.

We are definitely going to come back here in the near future and try some of the dishes from their a la carte menu. I recommend everyone who loves vietnamese food to try this place out. The chef Luke Nguyen came out and served some of the tables at the end of the meal too which i thought was pretty cool.

These are the beautiful flowers that Frankie bought for me also!

Red Lantern
545 Crown Street
Surry Hills NSW
Ph: 9698 4355

Open Lunch Tue - Fri 12:30 - 3pm
Dinner Tue - Sun 6:30 - 10:30


Lorraine E said...

Sounds like a gorgeous Valentine's Day-lovely flowers too! I have been dying to go to Red Lantern ever since that Heat in the Kitchen show too. I wish SBS would play it again, I missed a couple of episodes including the last one.

susan said...

Hi Lorraine
Yes the flowers were beautiful! It was a great restaurant, you will have to go there very soon. I wish they would do another series of it, focusing on other restaurants. Always love seeing what goes on inside the kitchens of great restaurants!