Stacked above Maison Marou Chocolate, Café-Restaurant occupies a sought-after location in a French colonial building on Calmette. With a spectacular view over Ben Thanh Market and the northwestern part of District 1, the building has been carefully restored and preserved. It’s a combination of old architecture and contemporary décor, with traditional tiles interleaved with a modern resin floor, oak furniture with blue cushions, large windows and classic hanging lamps.

 

There is also an open kitchen set up next to a long marble dining counter, a lounge area, an inviting L-shaped bar, and a spacious terrace upstairs. While the second floor works as a café-cum-restaurant, the terrace functions as a night-time hangout with a large selection of cocktails and local craft beers including Platinum and Pasteur Street.

 

A Package of Everything

 

At Café-Restaurant, you can either start the new day with a hot cup of espresso while enjoying a healthy breakfast, or have a sip of tea with a Dutch syrup waffle while catching the last rays of the evening sun. Thanks to the spacious area, Café-Restaurant has become a favourite place for networking events and meetings, served with authentic northern European cuisine and drinks.

 

“We had a wedding here with more than 100 people a few months ago,” says Martijn Vermaire, one of the owners. “But if you prefer a romantic night for two, we can do that too.”

 

According to Martijn, the restaurant also organises special events, from Latin dance and DJ nights to oyster tasting and a grand Sunday roast. “Our aim is to give people a cozy space where they can have everything, from food and drinks to entertainment.”

 

A Healthy Cuisine

 

At Café-Restaurant, the food emphasises the healthy side of European cuisine. Under the skilful direction of chef Steven Long, a finalist of Top Chef Vietnam 2014, the dishes come out fresh, flavourful and well-seasoned, in eye-catching arrangements.

 

“European cuisine has a lot of healthy dishes with vegetables and sandwiches,” says Steven. “The point is we have to pick the best ones out of them.”

 

The first dish we try is a pumpkin salad (VND190,000), a mix of goat cheese, pumpkin, lentil, mushrooms and hazelnut. It’s a big portion and packs a combination of freshness and crunchiness from the lentil and hazelnuts.

 

Our second dish is bocconcini with pici pasta (VND160,000 for a small plate). The pasta is hand-made, creating an interesting texture when it comes together with the roasted capsicum and cherry tomatoes.

 

By the time I am having a sip of a refreshing lychee cooler (VND80,000), our roasted pulled pork sandwich with English cheddar, red cabbage and fried onions (VND280,000) arrives. This combo is an ideal size for sharing as it comes with a small portion of French fries and two options of dipping sauce.

 

The final dish is the irresistible Australian lamb chops with hasselback carrot (VND480,000). The lamb is tender, juicy and rare in the centre. The hasselback carrot gives a visual effect, upgrading the dish.

 

If wine is your favourite tipple, there’s a wide selection ranging from VND980,000 to VND4.2 million a bottle. Beer and cider are available starting from VND60,000. Don’t miss out on the cocktail menu, (starting from VND80,000) and a wicked experience with a list called Calmette’s Experiments (from VND180,000). And if you want to bring your meal to the next level, cigars (from VND440,000) are also available.

 

“The idea is for Café-Restaurant to be accessible to everyone in town,” says general manager Sanders Smits. “We offer quality food and service without making everyone broke after the meal.” 

 

Café-Restaurant is at Floor 2, 171 Calmette, Q1, HCMC. Visit facebook.com/crhcmc for their weekly events and promotions

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