This weekend just gone was probably the warmest of the year so far. As one of the last Spring weekends when I could sit out without becoming a hayfevery snivelly mess, we made the most of it. We spent Saturday afternoon sat out by the canal at Granary Square, King's Cross and sampling the delights of KERB Saturday. On Sunday we fancied getting out and about to make the most of the weather but really didn't want to do anything too taxing. So we decided to have a leisurely stroll up to Spitalfields Market to browse the stalls and maybe get some lunch somewhere.
After we'd examined the wares of the various traders (and I'd picked out various pieces to go back and buy on the way home, including these beautiful rough cut gemstone bracelets), we were peckish. Our usual lunch spot in that area is Poppies for fish and chips, but it was so warm and sunny that we didn't really feel like fish and chips. So we kept walking up to Kingsland Road in search of Vietnamese food.
Kingsland Road is home to a cluster of Vietnamese restaurants and after an introduction to Vietnamese food from Miss Chu's Tuckshop, we decided that Vietnamese food would hit the spot. Viet Grill was the first restaurant we came across and lured in by its colourful banana leaf wall murals, we ducked in and out of the heat.
While we were contemplating the rather extensive menu (so many delicious sounding choices), we decided on our drinks, or rather, drink. Instead of a bottle of wine or a few bottles of beer each, we decided to order the Vietnamese Party Punch to share. With Appleton VX, Havana 3 & 7, Barcadi, Mango juice, it's described as "a lot of alcohol". Even with the warning on the menu, the waitress did still warn us that it was 'a lot'. Undaunted, we ordered it anyway.
You see that hollowed out passionfruit? Well, the alcohol in it was alight. You can't really see it in the photo above, other than a tiny blue tint, but flaming drinks are always impressive. Plus, it wasn't the monster they made it out to be, it was maybe the equivalent of two strong cocktails each and we were eating, so it didn't knock us out or anything. It's a good choice if you're having a lazy afternoon with a friend or partner and don't have anywhere else to be.
To start we shared the salmon and avocado summer rolls. Unlike other summer rolls I've had, these ones didn't have noodles in, just salmon, avocado and salad leaves. I'm unsure what the sauce was, it says on the menu it was served with nuoc cham or peanut sauce. If it was the peanut sauce, it had an overwhelming hit of what I assume was something like horseradish/wasabi. Whatever it was, the rolls were the perfect starter on a warm day, fresh and clean.
As a main, I was tempted by the robata grilled duck but unfortunately was informed that they didn't do it at lunchtime. So instead I made a snap choice and instead went with the roasted spring chicken marinated with honey, five spice and dried herbs, along with a side of rice. I suppose I was expecting a chicken breast fillet, so this was a bit of a surprise, but was lovely.
I'm a mango fiend so when I saw they had mango sorbet as a dessert option, I was all over it. Presented in a champagne coupe, this was just my cup of tea.
My boyfriend went for the less summery option of chocolate fondant with ice cream. He let me have a little taste and it was rich and gooey, but I must admit that I was glad I picked the mango sorbet for its refreshing fruitiness.
To say it was the first Vietnamese restaurant we came to and we didn't check out any others, Viet Grill was a great choice, the food was great, the atmosphere was relaxed (although that may have been because everyone was out enjoying the sun) and the punch was on fire (literally!).
Viet Grill is managed by the same people who manage Cay Tre in Soho and Hoxton and also Keu! in Shoreditch, Vietnamese Kitchen. I haven't visited any of the others, yet, but they're on my radar now to try if I ever pass by. Now, we've discovered Kingsland Road's Pho Mile, we will be back for a visit, especially over the coming summer months when something fresh and light is exactly what you need.