R.E.D with its red-lit sign adds some life to this relatively uneventful street, noise comfortably falling out of its doors as well as the odd customer after one too many. Recently changing its name from Red Drum (Trong Do), the popular downtown watering hole has renovated its upstairs area to a more diner friendly space. Modern in design without being too sterile, the area upstairs manages to live up to the bar’s name-cum-acronym — relax, eat and drink.

 

The menu is a mixed bag, featuring good solid pub grub and with a welcome focus on lamb, a meat not always seen on the restaurant scene in Saigon.

 

For the appetiser, I headed straight for the lamb sausages with aioli dipping sauce. More than enough to share, the plate of little skewers were moist to the touch and dripping with a rich distinctly lamb-y flavour. My whisky arrived in a shot glass, after a few attempts to correct it and much confusion, it arrived in a glass, by which time I was glad of it. The tang of the aioli sliced right through the tasty lightly spiced lamb sausages, creating an awesome mix of flavours. The sting of room temperature whisky at the end was in a word, beautiful.

 

Still hell bent on the brilliant New Zealand lamb I ordered the Red lamb burger, which came complete with goat’s cheese. The fries were unfortunately more of a garnish and although the patty was only a little smaller than my fist, it was incredibly thick, leaving the inside pink and the texture deliciously smooth and juicy. The goat’s cheese, an interesting touch, fought with the lamb and added extra weight to the dish where none was needed.

 

The desserts were sadly quite thin on the ground, with a choice of either mango or apple tart and ice cream. Not overly inspired we went with the apple tart and in spite of our reservations, it wasn’t bad, instead of a sugary mess it tasted like the intended fruit but it didn’t blow us away, although it did satisfy our sugar craving.

 

All in all, the food was solid, the lamb won me over completely, the prices were reasonable and the atmosphere welcoming. The service did suffer occasionally, but everyone was friendly and no doubt with a large group of friends and some live music, this place could well prove to be a great night out, food included.

 

The Prices

Red Bar Lamb Burger: VND85,000

Shot of J.W. Black: VND80,000

Lamb Sausages: VND120,000

Apple Tart: VND65,000


The Verdict

Food: 12

Service: 10

Décor: 11

 

Food, decor and service are each rated on a scale of 0 to 15:

13 — 15 extraordinary to perfection

10 — 12.5 very good to excellent

8 — 9.5 good to very good

5 — 7.5 fair to good

0 — 4.5 poor to fair

Mystery Diner

The Mystery Diner is a person hailing from a country that may or may not be Vietnam. S/he can be seen frequently in the restaurants and cafes of Hanoi and HCMC, searching for the most delicious meals each city has to offer. Look for the masked figure in a cape, lurking in the darkest corners of your neighbourhood com tam or pho joint.

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