When you hear set lunch, what do you think of: a soup, a main and a dessert on the cheap? Since we began our restaurant, we wanted to offer our guests something that went beyond the average: a fine-dining lunch menu featuring the full range of courses, prepared with as much care as any of our menus, and designed to please to the fullest within the short term of a midday break. Never has discovering La Villa French Restaurant’s cuisine been more affordable!
But first, the hard facts:
Our lunchtime starts at 11:45 a.m. from Monday to Saturday. Last order is at 1:30 p.m. For the price of VND890,000 net per person, you get an amuse-bouche, a starter, a main course and a dessert, along with complimentary canapés and after-lunch treats to top off your meal. And let’s not forget our selection of fluffy, 100 percent home-made bread, warm from the oven.
You have options for each course and can choose from two starters, two mains and two desserts. If you don’t come alone and are a curious eater, we recommend ordering at least one of everything, which will allow you to sample all the dishes while sharing.
Like all fine-dining menus, our set lunch is best enjoyed without time pressure. A meal takes as long as it takes. However, as this menu doesn’t feature our Cheese Trolley, we can serve all courses in a timely manner that will allow you to be back at the office early enough.
So, what are we waiting for? Let’s get into it!
The Prelude: Canapés and Amuse-Bouche
It’s a fixed principle of first-class gastronomy to welcome guests with a culinary teaser. Our changing canapé creations always come in threes, mixing a variety of flavours and textures. Some highlights include the truly melt-in-your-mouth Seafood “Gougère” and the tender Fishcake with Aioli.
Fishcake in a French restaurant? You might take this for an Asian twist, but fishcake has actually been a traditional starter in France for centuries. People in the southeastern region of Provence like to serve it with garlic-based Aioli, just like we do.
Once we’ve awakened your taste buds and you have picked up your first fragrant bread, the amuse-bouche is already on its way to your table. Amuse-bouche literally means “mouth amuser” and this is precisely what our Home-Made Salmon Tarama—a creamy, pale, pink pâté of Greek origin—does. This is a fresh and light hors d’oeuvre that gives off a subtle aroma of smoked salmon while you spoon it up.
The Ouverture: Starters to Drop to Your Knees For
The “Black Angus” Beef Tartare, topped with an egg yolk to add to its richness, is not to be missed. If you have opted for the additional wine pairing (yes, there is one at VND810,000 net per person), this beauty of a starter will come with a refreshing Bandol Rosé. The seasoning provides a little sour note to this classic appetiser that blends perfectly well with the sweet hint of shallots.
This French speciality was once called steack à l’Americaine (“American-style steak”) and is made of raw, ground meat. “Raw meat?”, you might ask. Trust us, once you let it melt away in your mouth, it’ll win your heart in no time. The salty, yet not too salty fries create a wonderfully crispy counterpoint.
The alternative is a creamy triple-decker. On the bottom, there’s a Red Mullet Brandade that Chef Thierry manages to make as light as air. In the middle, a Truffle Balsamic Cream awaits, complemented with Wild Rocket Salad. All this is crowned by a soft Mozzarella Pesto Espuma. The greens as well as the sour seasoning pleasantly balance out the flavour-bursting heartiness of the foamy truffle cream.
The Climax: Here’s to the Mains
It’s time for the mains to hit the stage. Enter the French Duck Leg Confit bathed in savoury duck juice and the side dish, finely Mashed Potatoes with Espelette (a mild, Franco-Basque red pepper) and Ossau-Iraty (a Franco-Basque sheep’s-milk cheese).
Duck confit, a speciality from a region in southwestern France called Gascony (Gascogne), is not easy to find outside its home country. The process to make this original dish is centuries old: the duck is cooked in a pot for up to 24 hours until it is covered in its own fat—a preservation technique already used in ancient Rome.
This slow cooking method is where the duck gets its heavenly rich tenderness. All we have to do to round it out is to fry the leg until it’s golden-brown, and serve it in its own juice. Delicious!
The second option for the main course is a more creative piece of culinary art: Calamari Prepared as a Carbonara with Serrano Ham and Sweet Paprika. At first glance, you could take the pasta-shaped calamari for mere noodles. Only when you drill them on a fork and taste the full-bodied mix of flavours, you realise: it’s seafood!
This might be the most beautifully arranged dish of them all, a roll of ‘calamari pasta’ topped with the carbonara-typical cheese and egg yolk. Carbonara is a Roman dish that was invented in the middle of the 20th century and is yet another example of the simple genius of Italian cuisine, using nothing but what’s readily available in pretty much any Western kitchen: eggs, cream, bacon and cheese.
Our favourite moment is when the calamari and paprika are just about to taste too sweet, and then the flavoursome notes of the crunchy cheese and the fried Serrano ham kick in to restore the harmony of the composition.
The Postlude: Desserts to Indulge
At this point, nothing would be more disappointing than having used up all the space in your stomach, so take our advice and keep the final act of the menu in mind: the desserts!
Let’s begin with the sumptuous Classic Chocolate Moelleux with Mango Sorbet. Moelleux means soft, mellow or smooth in French. Do we have to say more about the dough that coats the core of liquid, hot chocolate? All it takes is to cut through it and release the melted goodness. The mango sorbet adds a welcome fruity note that perfectly complements the bittersweet tang of the dark chocolate.
Flan caramel, too, is a standard in French gastronomy. The history of flan goes back to the ancient Spanish, while caramel was invented by the Arabs. Our Flan Caramel with Madagascar Vanilla Ice-Cream is made with duck eggs to add to its richness. Taste-wise, the vanilla takes the lead, but the mellow texture of the flan is the secret to the beauty of this dessert, the perfect final chord for a symphony of tastes.
So all that’s left to say is: Come to La Villa French Restaurant and experience Saigon’s first and only fine-dining lunch menu!