ATELIER DES RÊVES – cosy French restaurant with tasty, affordable set menus
Last weekend was a special day, so my partner and I were looking for a special place to celebrate. Somewhere with great food that’s a bit different. The venue must be nice but not pretentious or overwhelming, nor too mainstream. Hidden gem type is the most ideal, and budget is reasonable, around 2 million VNĐ for two people.
Atelier des Rêves – meaning “The Workshop of Dreams” in French – came up on top of my list as it seems to meet all these criteria. This place has been around for some time, run by a passionate Viet Kieu couple who used to live in France for ten years. It’s the kind of place I’d like to support.
The restaurant is located in a fairly big but quiet lane on Kỳ Đồng Street, District 3 where cars can go in easily. There are a couple of tables and a small garden outside on the patio, plus about 10 tables inside. The interior design is simple yet classy.
A lovely corner in the outdoor dining area
Upon first look, we immediately liked the menu. Besides many seemingly good choices for a la carte, there are 3 set menus which look especially appealing at very reasonable prices: Fish menu is VNĐ495,000, Meat menu VNĐ655,000 and “Discover” menu VNĐ855,000, VAT already included. Each shall have one (or several) starters, main course, cheese of the day and dessert (which you can choose from their dessert menu).
I don’t often take set menus unless there are no other options, as the quantity is often too much for me, not to mention there are always a lot more choices with a la carte. However, the set menus here looked so good and seemed like a better value, so we decided to go for them – one Discover menu and one Fish menu. Upon taking our order, the staff asked if we wanted to share, since if that’s the case they would arrange to bring out the dishes in the best order, so that both of us could try the different items in each set. I was immediately impressed with this professionalism.
The first item was a complimentary Amuse Bouche from the restaurant – two sets of cream corn soup with toasted tuna bread. The bread was very nice, and if you like corn for sure you will like this soup. Another complimentary item came next – a bread basket with butter, which is common practice in most French restaurants. It was a good start.
Complimentary amuse bouche – Cream corn soup with toasted tuna bread
Complimentary bread basket
The first appetizers in our two menus were quite similar to each other – soft boiled eggs and poached quail eggs in green vegetable emulsion and croutons. It was nice and perfectly seasoned.
Soft boiled eggs in green vegetable emulsion and croutons
Then came two next items from Discover menu – house-made terrine foie gras – which I was really looking forward to as I’m a big fan of foie gras, and pan-seared US scallops in butternut mousseline and cauliflower tempura. I loved them both. They were so fresh and flavorful, as perfect as one could expect.
House-made terrine foie gras served with bread and jam
Pan-seared US scallops in butternut mousseline and cauliflower tempura
Next are the main courses of both menus. For the fish set there were two choices – Pan-fried fish of the day with clams and chorizo butter, or Clam risotto with saffron cream – we went with the fish. For the discover menu – Tenderloin steak medium rare with morel cream sauce, plus an extra complimentary portion of macaroni and cheese with mushroom. Again, everything was delicious, especially the mac & cheese which was a nice and pleasant surprise.
Pan-fried fish of the day with clams and chorizo butter
Medium rare tenderloin steak with morel cream sauce
Complimentary mushroom macaroni and cheese (half-eaten, sorry :D)
The next item close to the last was Cheese of the day – brie, camembert and goat cheese. I’m a big fan of cheese, however at this point I was already too full so my partner had to finish most of them. Again, the staff showed their professionalism when they replaced our previous bread basket (still mostly untouched) with new, hot bread.
Cheese of the day – brie, camembert and goat cheese
For dessert, among many options, we went for tiramisu and mango sweet soup with vanilla ice cream and walnut crumble. Tiramisu is my all-time favorite cake so I’m very particular towards it, and here while it was quite good, it was not the best one I’ve had. However, the mango soup was definitely a winner, a light and perfect ending after a heavy meal.
Mango sweet soup with vanilla ice cream and walnut crumble
Our total bill came to VNĐ1,850,000, including the two sets and a small Chateau Bouteilley bottle at VNĐ500,000. We had a perfect evening and were so satisfied with everything – the food, the service and the venue. Service was especially exceptional – all dishes were brought out at perfect timing, and all staff were lovely and attentive. Furthermore, the restaurant was quiet and relaxing with minimum music, ideal for couples or groups who don’t like noisy places.
Simple yet cosy and classy atmosphere inside the restaurant
At the end of the meal, we got a chance to talk to the Viet Kieu owner couple. I was surprised to see such young talents who are so dedicated and passionate in what they do. The husband manages the restaurant and also brings food to customers himself, while the wife is the main chef. They used to live in France for 10 years, attend the culinary school École Superieure Hoteliere de Paris and work in Park Hyatt Paris for a while as sous-chef. However as most other Vietnamese who always return to their home country, this couple came back two years ago and opened Atelier des Rêves. I asked them why there is so little information about their restaurant in the media, and were told instead of marketing they prefer to focus on the quality of food and service.
If you decide to give this place a try, I would highly recommend the discover menu. It’s the most expensive one but really worth it, though I’m also curious about the meat menu. On the other hand, they normally change menus once every 4 months, so next time it will be different. Do make reservation before coming so they can serve you best.
Atelier des Rêves
Address: 20/5 Kỳ Đồng, District 3, HCM City
Tel: 028 3526 1518
Opening hours: Tuesday – Sunday: 11.30am – 1pm; 6.30pm – 9pm (Monday closed)
Comment: Lovely French restaurant in HCM City with great food, nice venue and exceptional service at very reasonable prices. Set menus are also available. Reservation in advance is recommended.
The Nomad Quynh