Now with a second restaurant, the well-established Tay Ho establishment Cousins is upping the dining scene away from the lake. Our mystery diner finds out what’s going on. Photos by Julie Vola

 

A slice of West Lake gastronomy just took off in Ba Dinh as the Cousins gastropub spreads its wings downtown. Diners can expect more of the cosmopolitan euro-fusion in the unpretentious gastropub setting that made the original location famous.

 

Located just north of the Lotte Tower, the concept is similar to its Tay Ho brethren but in a more urban setting. Tucked down an alleyway, the new Cousins’ enclosed patio dining area provides as much tranquillity as one could hope for in the heart of Hanoi’s business district.

 

Cousins’ game is tasty mid-range European fare accompanied with a generous wine list. But in its unassuming location, Cousins doesn’t put on fancy airs.

 

Similar to its original location, the ingredients are mostly imports. The ribeye steak for two (VND1.3 million) is certified Angus beef from Australia while the lamb rack (VND1.4 million) is from New Zealand.

 

While the menu’s mainstay is French, touches from across Europe and the Mediterranean pop up across the menu. Spanish chorizo and scallops (VND280,000) are to be had along with falafel (VND100,000) and tabbouleh with gravlax (VND130,000).

 

The Meal

 

We tried the lamb cutlet (VND310,000) with risotto, which was presented in less than five minutes from ordering. The cutlet did everything it was supposed to — tender and rare, there were neither good nor bad surprises. The same went with the beef bourguignon (VND330,000), which was cooked to near perfection.

 

We paired the meat with a bottle of Parallele 45 (VND690,000) with hints of berries. The wine is mostly French — you won’t find any bargain Australian reds — with more fruity, spicy aromas than full-bodied flavours. While I normally take my red meat with a rich Bordeaux, the wine selection works well with the restaurant’s light-hearted festiveness.

 

The desserts take a more Eurasian direction with local goodies combined with the rich creamy stuff one would expect from a French gastropub. While the pavlova (VND60,000) and lemon tart (VND70,000) are par for the course, the pièce de résistance is the chocolate cake baked with Da Viet Dark beer (VND90,000).

 

Cousins excels in having a well-rounded menu for tastes and budgets alike. It’s never exactly inexpensive — expect to spend at least VND500,000 for the full experience — but there’s flexibility with the splurge factor.

 

With the best of day-to-day cuisine mixed in with the odd gourmet touch from across Europe, Cousins is a safe bet for a business casual lunch or laid-back date.

 

The second location of Cousins is at #7 Ngo 58, Dao Tan, Ba Dinh, Hanoi


 

The Verdict

 

Food: 14

 

Service: 13

 

Décor: 14

 

Food, Decor and Service are each rated on a scale of 0 to 15.

 

13 — 15 extraordinary to perfection

10 — 12.5 very good to excellent

8 — 9.5 good to very good

5 — 7.5 fair to good

0 — 4.5 poor to fair

 

The Word reviews anonymously and pays for all meals

The Word

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