Viet Bistro

February 17 2007 - 11:08 AM

There’s always something fun about going to a new restaurant. I’m always hoping it will be something new and when the place is 3 blocks walking distance all the better. Viet Bistro is a new restaurant just off Broadway on Devon from the owners of Pasteur, a really nice French-Vietnamese restaurant on north Broadway. Viet is their bistro. Entrees are priced from $8 for veggie options to $18 for a whole red snapper that was recommended but not tried.

A common problem according to some patrons is that despite your
reservations it may take an extra 15-30 minutes to be seated. It’s a
small place and I’d attribute it to their growing pains. Apparantly
diners take longer than they thought. But it’s not a huge deal as half
the restaurant is open seating where you can enjoy cocktails as soon as
they get a liquor license. In the meantime in addition to the wine for
the meal I’d suggest a six pack (lagers are always nice with Vietnamese
food). Or a pre dinner libation for your wait. The seating and
atmosphere is pretty nice and they gave us complimentary eggrolls for
waiting and those were pretty tasty.

I was expecting Pasteur-quality food and I was disappointed. Flavors
were very sharp and simple, ingredients were very typical.  It was quick cafe type food and it was pretty
good but nothing stellar. Blue Elephant across the street has he
opposite problem, eating in is a challenge in their small space where
the front door is positively chilling but their food is a real find,
not that it’s "authentic thai" but more of a blend of flavors that
offer a richness that was lacking at Viet Bistro. BUT again, that may
be part of their growing pains.

For appetizers we had the veggie tempura and lobster rolls. Both were
suggested by the waiter but lacked anything unusual. The lobster roll
actually had very little flavor at all. The tempura was served with a
sweet and sour sauce that was very typical also. The eggrolls we ate
earlier had more flavor.

Entrees were a spicy shrimp that could be served anywhere, a daily
special chicken entree that was dry and beef and bok choi skewers that
were cooked perfectly but were dominated by a vinegary sauce.

A criticism of the restaurant is that their 20 item many is sparse. I
was looking forward to a short simple and inspired menu. There was
nothing new or different or exciting that I saw.

Restaurants in Chicago are really developing quickly. Over dinner we
talked about Rique’s $19 4-course dinner and Schwa’s $45 bonanza. It
seems like over the past few years local northside eateries have gotten
wise to presentation and decor and with the saturation and enthusiasm
over the many, many authentic ethnic spots the logical next step is
exactly Viet Bistro… a more inexpensive Pasteur. Unfortunately their
still working some kinks out but the atmosphere, service and concept
are there and the menu is still young. I’m looking forward to going
back.

Viet Bistro
1346 W. Devon
773-878-1061

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