Sunday, 25 May 2008

Viet de Lites

We headed off to Southbank the other night for a pre-opera dinner. In the past I've had no problems getting a quick dinner at places like Campari, Ahmets, Satay Hut and Ginga. After all, if restaurants can get people in at 6pm and out by 7.15, they're happy, because they can take another booking for 7.30pm.

Campari was our first choice, but the menu seems to have recently changed away from Italian food to more of a steak place (which is a shame, as I've had some great Italian food there in the past). As steak wasn't particularly appealing to my vegetarian dinner guest, we looked for somewhere else.

I thought we'd give Piaf a go, but it was pretty busy even at 6pm, so I didn't like our chances of a quick dinner. Instead we wandered into Viet de Lites on Little Stanley street, which only had about 4 other tables of diners when we arrived. I hadn't eaten there before, but I'm always willing to give any Vietnamese restaurant a try.

When we were shown to our table, I explained we had to be at the opera by 7.30. "No problems" said the waitress. We ordered two serves of rice paper rolls for entree, and two rice vermicelli salads for mains. The waitress assured us we'd have time to eat and still make the opera.

The rice paper rolls came out pretty quickly, as did a couple of glasses of white wine. I had ordered the prawn and pork rolls (which were pre-rolled). There were 4 pretty large rolls. They were clearly fresh, but didn't have a lot of distinctive flavour. The vegetarian tofu rolls on the other hand were much tastier.

It was after we had finished our rice paper rolls that things started to go downhill. Since we had arrived, the restaurant had started to fill up. Service didn't seem to be coping, and there were a number of tables where people were jumping up just to grab a waiter's attention.

Our finished plates sat on the table for what seemed an eternity. As time was ticking by, I grabbed one the waitresses to remind her we had to be gone before 7.30. She came back to tell us that our orders were "running a bit late". At that time I told her that we had to go in about 10 minutes, so if the food didn't come out soon, we'd just have to leave. She relayed that to the kitchen, and came back a few minutes later to tell us that the chef could start cooking our meals in 5 minutes. That's when we got up and left. I paid for the entrees and wine, but made it clear to the guy at the counter that we'd been assured there would be no problems with getting our meals out in time, which obviously didn't happen. No discount was offered to us.

The most annoying thing was that there were 3 or 4 tables that had arrived about 10-15 minutes after us, but had eaten 2 courses while we were there. We'd only ordered rice paper rolls and rice vermicelli salads, so there wasn't even much cooking involved.

I don't often get annoyed eating out, but lots of restaurants only get one chance with new customers. There are so many other restaurants at Southbank that are able to get food out quickly when they need to, that I won't be back to Viet de Lites in a hurry.

We headed off to the opera with our tummies rumbling and munched on emergency snacks of chips and Byron Bay cookies at the interval. Luckily for us, the opera was great.

Viet de Lites
Little Stanley Street
Southbank 4101
P - 07 3844 8979
E -
W -

Viet de Lites on Urbanspoon

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