Its decor and panache could hold its own on a side street of SoHo or a lofty perch in the Bay Area, but this restaurant is on the southwest corner of Hoan Kiem Lake. This is the place to see and be seen these days in Hanoi, and it's a popular late-night spot where local jazz artists like to drop by. There's a good revolving collection of local artists' works on the walls and good music always plays. The dining area out front comprises simple tables and a few booths at bar-side with picture-window views of the lake and the street. Seating in the back offers overstuffed couches and low tables in a maze of discreet nooks with hanging cloths blown by ceiling fans that offer fickle privacy. It's all quite cinematic, really. However you feel about the atmosphere, Mr. Chinn serves up a delightfully eclectic menu of fine French and Vietnamese-inspired dishes all with a playful, cross-cultural flair. There is an excellent, affordable tapas menu billed as "Zen-like" for simple elegance; try the rib sampler or "symphony of flavors" (a selection of all). Main courses like pan-roasted salmon with wasabi mashed potatoes and green-tea-smoked duck have a certain Franco-Japanese appeal all their own. Bobby is often at the restaurant and likes to come up and chat with guests (or offer a zany serenade with his acoustic guitar). He's become a small celebrity with his new cooking show on the Discovery channel, and guests do occasionally ask for an autograph.
- © Frommer's 2013
- Highly Recommended 2010