A private restaurant seems almost self-contradictory — yet until September, that’s what Evita Bistro was: only for the degustation of City Garden residents.


Why change? “We’d like the public to come in to enjoy the view and the food,” said manager David. “My bosses (Thy and Alexander Egert, of Vasco’s / Camargue fame) are already well-known, and they use the same crew and system at all their places. That’s why they try to make the quality of food and service good for customers. We’re not five-star, but we try our best.

 

Whatever the reason, I’m glad they did.

 

I perused the menu, sipping my Cham Lear: champagne mixed with Poire William, brandy made from Bartlett pears (VND110,000), dry, smoky, and rich as Louis Armstrong’s saxophone. Surprisingly, it ended up complementing each dish well.

 

Each dish… each cried: try me. Though including expected nods towards other cuisines, Evita spotlights traditional continental fare, including foods I’ve perhaps seen in one or two other restaurants here. I could picture Evita sitting well in Rome, Paris or Florence, with its expansive dining room, its lush, dimly-lit furnishings, its spotless kitchen and its white-shirted, long-aproned servers gliding by.

 

Naughty but Nice

 

 

One reason I love reviewing restaurants is mixing old stand-bys with new discoveries. But straying from old favourites here proved difficult, like ignoring old friends.

 

Minestrone soup (VND50,000) kicked off my meal, a subtle consommé packed with fresh, still-crispy vegetables; almost a full meal with the accompanying hot baguette. I confess I played a bit with the battery-powered salt and pepper grinders, though the soup needed dashes of each.

 

For my entrée, I stuck with a favourite: fettucine all’Amatriciana (VND170,000), served sauceless — unusual — with a side of grated Parmesan cheese. The flavours mixed well, if dominated by the red pepper, but I missed the fresh tomatoes usually present. Their sweetly acidic moisture unified the pancetta, onions and spice.

 

Finally came beef carpaccio (VND120,000). The slices of raw beef melted on my delighted tongue, alight with lemon, capers, olive oil, and Parmesan.

 

For dessert, I (heroically!) fitted in iced Bailey’s nougat with chocolate sauce (VND70,000), and all I can say is: wow, not for diabetics. Crunchy, boozy nougat, embedded in ice cream drizzled with chocolate. The desserts alone warrant a second trip.

 

Old World and New

 

 

Appropriately staffed, Evita’s smiling servers whisked dishes away and deposited each fresh treat at the right moment.

 

Eating, listening to the eclectic, almost random musical selections, wondering if anyone played the old upright piano, eyeing the bar, the dessert case, and the view of the pool, I felt content, enjoying my little mental vacation.

 

By the end, however, I was sweaty as well as stuffed. Doors wide open, the fans and AC simply couldn’t overcome Vietnamese heat. The Old World illusion fading, I paid, wondering when I’d find an excuse to return.

 

Overall, I thought their best rather good — good for dates, celebrations, even just a night’s self-indulgence. Evita Bistro upholds the Egert’s reputation… and I even had money left. — Owen Salisbury

 

Evita Bistro is at City Garden, 59 Ngo Tat To, Binh Thanh, HCMC

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