Andrea’s View: While trying to decide where our next adventure would take place, I said to Dave, “We have exhausted all options close by. There is nothing left on our end of town.” Dave replied, “You keep saying this, but we always manage to find just one more restaurant.” I may be slightly exaggerating the lack of ethnic restaurants on the north side, but our end of town is truly dominated by chains or Mexican restaurants. So once more, I went to indyethnicfood.com and entered “northeast region” and guess what? I did manage to find one more restaurant that met our blog’s requirements. Viet Bistro on 86th Street. I said to Dave, ” How about Vietnamese food in Castleton?” He said, “Let’s go.”
Viet Bistro it turns out is a charming little restaurant that sits in a strip mall next door to an “Australian” restaurant. Dave and I noticed that the restaurant next door had a lot of lunch traffic, and the parking lot was pretty full. Viet Bistro is a quiet, peaceful and thoughtfully decorated alternative with impeccable service. And the food is pretty good too. I had the Bahn Xeo, which is a crepe with pork, shrimp, and bean sprouts tucked inside. It is served with fish sauce. I found the fish sauce bland, so I dipped my crepe in hoisin sauce instead. It was a pretty good lunch. Sure, there are better Vietnamese restaurants in the city, but they are at least 30 minutes away from Dave and I. This one is 10 minutes tops. So when it comes to north side dining, pretty good Vietnamese food trumps boring chain restaurant food any day.
Dave’s View: I might have made a mistake about some of my reviews on Vietnamese restaurants in the area. When I look back at them, I always say that the food was fresh. Every single restaurant meal had vegetables that would snap in your mouth, the rice was steamed perfectly, and the sauce had enough spices in it. It was a meal when you were finished, you felt healthy, wise and full of energy. It is hard to find a Vietnamese restaurant in the Indianapolis area to step it up a notch and blow my mind away. Unfortunately, Viet Bistro didn’t pass the test.
The meal, Vermicelli with Chicken and Lemongrass was layered excellently. The noodles were spread on top with chunks of chicken followed by lemongrass at the bottom of the bowl. So when you plunge your fork into the center of the bowl, picked up a chunk of chicken and proceeded to the bottom of the dish, you picked up a heap full of lemongrass. The lemongrass is so potent is overwhelms the dish. When you eat lemongrass it makes you feel like you’re eating healthy, but you’re not. Feeling overweight? Go pick up some lemongrass, you’ll feel like you’re losing pounds, but you’re not. Somebody should make bubbblegum out of lemongrass. It makes you feel bright and happy. The rest of the meal was bland except for the lemongrass.
The place inside is very elegant. The walls have nice framed artwork, but I still can’t figure out the “33″ beer carriers on the tables. Yes, I know they advertise the beer served there. I know they hold their condiments. But does it clash with the feel of the place? Somewhat. It’s quirky, but I’ll have to give them high marks for originality. Does your dining room table have a Budweiser beer carrier with mustard, ketchup, salt and pepper on it? If it does, you’re strange.
Our server was extremely nice and pleasant. When she handed us our bill, she did a little bow. The bill was held with both of her hands, waist-high, and she bowed. I know it’s a custom and she probably didn’t even know she was doing it, but it made me feel strange. I don’t want to make anybody in my life feel subservient. I know many people out there would love for someone to bow to them, but I don’t want it. I know it’s out of respect, but I don’t deserve that respect. I just had a meal. I didn’t stop World War III or cured cancer. I ate like a pig!
I appreciate the bow, but next time, forewarn me. Yeah, I know you won’t.
The bows we’ll just keep coming.
Food: 6 Ambiance: 9 Service: 9 Total: 24 out of 30
$30-$40 with adult beverages