A hidden gem in the state’s far south brings the flavours of Vietnam to the fore, with a menu that deftly balances authenticity with twists on pub classics.
The flaking paint on the outside of the century-old London Hotel gives you no indication of what lies within. Beautiful young souls perch on the crimson couch in the Parisian-style bar as you enter, the dining room is wide open, high-ceilinged and graced with murals, and there’s a cascade of living plants on one (nicely painted) wall.
The food reaches greater heights, too, with a steamboat of squid, prawns and fish, scented with Sichuan pepper and chilli in the lightest fragrant broth.
And it’s packed, especially on weekends, with Great Southerners clamouring for the Vietnamese-inspired menu, including a messy tangle of “crack noodles” with blue manna crab and tamarind. Please-all drinking food includes fries loaded with pho gravy, Sriracha and cheese, with the option of smoked brisket.
The food reaches greater heights, too, with a steamboat of squid, prawns and fish, scented with Sichuan pepper and chilli in the lightest fragrant broth. Salt-and-pepper school prawns are flash-fried before being served with lemon mayo. Snapper ceviche is lively and sweet, a classic served on slivers of top-notch bread. Fine slices of Vietnamese-style pork sausage are given the snap of walnuts as a counter crunch. For pudding? A tarte Tatin of dark cooked apple on barely-there pastry, married with peanut-butter ice-cream: the perfect finale.