Fri 23 May 2008
About a year ago we went up to Ilkley for a day out and a bit of a walk on the moor, and Andy spotted a Vietnamese restaurant near the station.
Armed with that information, and a good year to think about it, we finally made it to Ilkley for a meal at Bistro Saigon.
I've had plenty of Vietnamese food before in Adelaide, but I wasn't really sure what we'd find in the Yorkshire Dales ... I needn't have worried. To sum the experience up in one word, I'd have to say it's "GO!".
The restaurant itself is quite small, but with an impressive attention to detail. The front area contains the majority of the tables as well as the bar. Tables are set with real linen (both table clothes and napkins), and the staff are friendly and efficient. This is also a busy restaurant - I wouldn't head there on a Friday night without a reservation. The staff will do their best to accommodate you but they'll also make it clear if your table is required by a specific time.
Food wise, there's quite a lot of choose from, and the dishes range from the vaguely familiar through to the more unusual. We started with a salt and pepper squid and a beef and pomelo salad with tamarind dressing. The dishes were generous, light and tasty. The salt and pepper squid didn't wallow in grease and was tender and the salad was a good combination of flavours and textures (although I wouldn't have minded a bit more tamarind-sour).
Almost full from our starters, we moved on to mains: a roast pork belly for me, and spicy chicken with mango salsa for Andy. The size of these dishes continued what the starters had ... started. The pork was fantastic: rubbed with a variety of spices and then roasted and served with a dipping sauce it had crackling, flavour and succulence. It was served with steamed greens (of the far east Asian type!) which added a vibrant colour to the plate. Personally, I thought I'd won, but Andy's chicken was also pretty tasty.
The one area I'd suggest Bistro Saigon needs to revisit is its wine list. The choice of wines by the glass is a little limited and, critically, the list lacks some of the wines you'd expect to find paired with far east Asian food. Nothing like a Riesling or a Gewurztraminer, and very few of the lighter reds. While breadth of a wine list is important, I think it's more important to feature wines that are going to be friendly to your food.
We rolled out of Bistro Saigon extremely well fed and watered - and happy to boot! We spent just over £50, but certainly didn't skimp on the wine or beer. And to be honest, we could have easily shared a starter. But when the food's good, why bother short changing yourself?
1. Bistro Saigon, 1 Railway Road, Ilkley, LS29 8HQ, phone: 01943 817999
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