Almost immediately after it opened, Madame Hanoi had a steady stream of customers keen to sample its careful melding of Vietnamese and French cuisine. But the accompanying bar often struggled to match the restaurant’s pace.
The Madame Hanoi crew revamped the drinking area with a new design and menu in mid-2016. Now a separate entity named Madame’s Bar, the space has softened with an intimate set-up, warm lighting and old-world nostalgia.
Like the food, the fit-out is a delicate pairing of East and West. European furnishings sit alongside framed vintage photographs and paintings from Vietnam, curated by artist Emma Hack. Cherry blossoms (the Madame Hanoi logo) feature throughout the space.
The shared-cocktail menu features “interactive” cocktails served in a bowl, fountain or on a paddle. The pick of the bunch is I Love You (Hunny Bunny) – pink grapefruit, house-made vanilla cordial, Aperol, tequila and fresh lime. There’s also an absinthe fountain, and fortnightly tap takeovers by local breweries.
Old favourites such as the bao, crispy-fried baby squid and chicken wings remain alongside new additions Gi Vi Hat (peanuts with tamarind, five spice and chilli) and sweet-potato crisps with sansho (Sichuan pepper) sea salt.