On the doorstep of both the Adelaide Casino and the Railway Station sits Madame Hanoi, Nic Watt‘s new bar and restaurant.
Open for 6 weeks when we visited there was an air of professionalism generally found in more established venues. Nic, Australian born with New Zealand training, has honed his craft in Tokyo, London and Auckland claiming awards along the way. He chose Adelaide for Madame Hanoi for the abundance of South Australian produce and the specific location on North Terrace for its 19th-century architecture.
Madame Hanoi is unassuming from the exterior but once inside, the cavernous venue opens to a number of dedicated spaces. Pastries and coffee at the entrance cater to the breakfast and takeaway crowd. Move into the bright street level restaurant and choose from regular seating or higher bar tables. On the mezzanine level the cocktail bar offers communal dining, and up another flight of stairs, space expands offering birdseye views over downstairs diners. Bookings for 8 or more are accepted but for less, there’s a walk-in policy.
After a big weekend at WOMADelaide, we tentatively accepted the cocktail list. For me, the Hanoi Sidecar with ginger liqueur, mandarin cognac, five spice and lemon read like a health tonic. The Baron, also focusing on something medicinal, settled on a Perfect Storm, with fresh ginger, lots of lime, dark rum and a splash of cola. Cocktails sorted, we moved onto food.
Our school prawns tossed in lime garlic and lemongrass were a perfect start. Fried crisp with shells on, this dish was a moreish accompaniment to our drinks. Next up, the crispy fried baby squid with smoked chilli and kaffir lime. The squid, tender and tangy with a nice kick of smoky chilli were followed shortly by our betel leaves. A satisfying portion of spanner crab mixed with pomelo and fresh chilli placed on the betel leaf ready for wrapping and consuming. Delicious!
If you know The Baron you’ll be aware of his inability to pass up pork on a menu so our final dish was crispy pork belly served with Vietnamese herbs and Hoisin sauce in lettuce cups. The rich fatty goodness of the pork, perfect with the sweet sticky sauce finished with herbs and lettuce put us in a dreamlike state, or was that the bottle of Radford Quartz Garden Riesling from Eden Valley? The wine worked well across the meal producing varying highlights when combined with each dish. The all-day menu is perfect for grazing but if you’re time poor, options for a quick turn around are Bahn Mi or salads.
Skipping dessert, we migrated to the cocktail bar and returned to our healthy elixirs. A Lumineaux for me combining sweet navel orange juice, passionfruit, citrus vodka and Chambord and the Hanoi Hannah for The Baron; a Bourbon base with mint, coconut and fresh lychees. Practically a fruit platter between us.
For the not so-cocktail-inclined beers are covered. Madame Hanoi has a decent selection of craft beers on tap, the bulk of them from Adelaide with the exception of one each from New South Wales, France and Brooklyn. For a Vietnamese brew, Premium 333 features on the bottle list.
This is a great venue with easy access to the Casino, Festival Centre, The Intercontinental Hotel and the new footbridge to Adelaide Oval.
Madame Hanoi, a place we love….