Photo by Julie Vola

If this restaurant had a mascot, it would be butter. “When in doubt, just chuck some butter in it,” laughs Chef Patrick Morris, and he’s right. Rich and heavy, every dish wraps you in the comfort of American-style steakhouse decadence.

 

Located in the Sheraton Hotel, Hemispheres is a classy establishment with a contemporary edge. It’s the kind of place where the waiting staff takes your order with a gentle smile, while you enjoy the fresh view of the garden and West Lake; the food is served before you even notice. The vaulted wood ceiling makes the space feel grandiose, and every table is surrounded by plush armchairs, so you can eat steak like a king. And if you require entertainment, you can watch your dinner being made through massive glass windows that encircle the open kitchen. Yet not once do you lose the sense that everything here, from the cuisine to the décor, is located in the modern day.

Photo by Julie Vola 

Surf and Lots of Turf

 

The first thing Hemispheres wants you to see, though, is their steak. In a case by the door, various cuts are on display. From Black Angus to Wagyu to Nebraska prime, you’ve got options. The restaurant even boasts the only Hitachi beef in Hanoi, straight from Ibaraki prefecture in Japan.

 

The characteristics of a steak, Chef Patrick explains, are determined by the marbling, or fat content, in the beef. This marbling ranges from grades 1 through 12, with higher marbling resulting in richer, more buttery steaks. “It just melts in your mouth,” he says of those on the higher end of the scale.

 

For Chef Patrick, butter plus meat equals a brand-new menu for Hemispheres — and an extensive one at that. “I kept it pretty simple, with flavours that guests would know,” he explains. Modest for a 29-year-old who was ranked among the top 10 best chefs in Asia in the 2014 San Pellegrino International Chef Challenge. Originally from Australia, Patrick started his career as an apprentice at the age of 15, working resorts in Queensland. After moving to the south of Thailand to gain international experience, he found a home at Hemispheres eight months ago.

 

His menu is centred around surf-and-turf, with a set menu for 120 grams of beef starting at VND1.5 million, and seafood options starting at VND1.3 million. But the choices don’t stop there; Hemispheres has all kinds of meats to mix and match, so we decided to try some of their more exotic varieties.

Photo by Julie Vola

Photo by Julie Vola

Bring on the Sauce

 

We started with Patrick’s take on a French bouillabaisse, a traditional Provencal fish stew (VND290,000). Scallops, shrimp, salmon, and clams from Nha Trang and Hai Phong are poached in a rich soup of saffron, fennel and tomatoes, and finished with — you guessed it — butter. The result is a savoury, comforting starter that warms your insides and satisfies your umami sensors.

 

Our next dish was duck confit, topped with French foie gras and served with brioche. The meat, cooked for four hours in duck fat, is rich and buttery, contrasted by a tart black cherry topping and red wine sauce. Patrick is serious about his sauces — some cook for up to three days before they’re ready for the plate.

 

Continuing our tour of Hemispheres’ extensive list of meats, we sunk our forks into herb-crusted lamb from New Zealand (VND800,000), topped with roasted asparagus, baby carrots, beets and garlic. Again, the sauce made the dish; a thick, creamy red wine and Dijon mustard reduction, slowly simmered with lamb neck bones, perfect for soaking into some house walnut bread.

 

Last but not least, I tried my first bite of venison tenderloin (VND950,000). Served almost rare due to its very low fat content, the meat was drizzled with a truffle jus and topped with juicy wild mushrooms, roasted baby carrots, asparagus, and slow-roasted shallots. It was, needless to say, a delicious introduction.

 

There’s only one thing to finish off a meal of meat and butter — chocolate. Aptly named the ‘Chocolate Extravaganza’ (VND160,000), this dish consists of a lattice-work chocolate ball surrounding a chef’s selection of treats inside. When served, hot melted chocolate is drizzled over the structure until it cracks and breaks, exposing a core of mint ice cream, strawberries, and crumbles of crispy chocolate wafer. It’s interactive, fun to watch, and sure to induce a serious food coma.

 

We left Hemispheres with eyes half-closed, stomachs full and smiles wide.

 

Hemispheres is on the ground floor of the Sheraton Hanoi Hotel, Ngo 1, Au Co, Tay Ho, Hanoi or online at sheratonhanoi.com

Photo by Julie Vola

 

Photo by Julie Vola

Photo by Julie Vola

Jesse Meadows

Like many expats before her, staff writer Jesse Meadows stopped in Hanoi on a backpacking trip in early 2015 and just hasn’t managed to leave yet. A compulsive documentarian with a case of incessant curiosity, she loves buying one-way tickets, photographing dance parties and writing stories on the bus. 

Website: www.messyjeadows.tumblr.com

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