Burwood Road is an odd place for eats. There’s a collective of cafes worth brunching at between Bunnings and Glenferrie Road, Hawthorn (Bawa Cafe, Axil Coffee Roasters, Hawthorn Common); but continue past Swinburne and it begins to thin out.

James Klapanis (former owner of Quaff restaurant in Toorak) opened St. Cloud Eating House last month after, in his words, “poaching” Franky Pham and Shaunn Anderson from Feast of Merit’s kitchen and front-of-house teams respectively. What was a defunct bedding store is now a two-storey Vietnamese restaurant that’s a breath of fresh air on Burwood Road in Hawthorn East.

Aside from some festoon lighting and shelves stacked with Asian condiments, you wouldn’t know the space (designed by Therefore Studio and interior stylist Elle Critchley) was a Vietnamese restaurant. Klapanis originally wanted the venue to be a wood-fired pizza restaurant until Pham came on board (the Italian venue will still go ahead, somewhere else, this year). Dishes include pipis in broth spiked with lemongrass and mains such as barbequed market fish with ginger nuoc mam. Other plates are less obviously Vietnamese but equally as delicious: barbequed scallops with lap xuong (Chinese sausage) and caramel chicken wings with cubes of sticky rice, burnt onion, pickled ginger and herbs. There’s a set menu for $55 per head and lunch is also a steal with mains, bánh mì and salads at $8 each.

There’s craft beer, a short wine list with options by the glass and cocktails that work in Asian ingredients such as Thai basil, fresh ginger and bean-curd jelly. The Viet Express with maple brandy and coconut walnut foam is an interesting flip on the Vietnamese coffee.

Locals will be pleased to know takeaway and delivery is on the cards in the near future.

St. Cloud Eating House
644 Burwood Road, Hawthorn East
(03) 9882 0146

Mon to Sun 11.30am–10pm