Elijah Ferrian basks in the glory of this hidden garden-themed restaurant fuelled by passionate food and a focus on neighbourhood service. Photos by Vinh Dao.
I’m going to say it: Patio might be the best Western-style restaurant I have had the pleasure of dining at in Ho Chi Minh City.
It’s not because it’s the fanciest place, it’s not because it’s still a hidden gem that plenty of folks have yet to discover, it’s because the chef is insane (in the best way possible), and the manager knows what he’s doing. They are both passionate about what they do, and whether you taste it in the food, feel it in the ambience, or see it in the way the staff handles their guests – Patio is different.
Thierry Faburel and Olivier Lemaire are the owners of this Thao Dien culinary oasis. When they honed in on the space, they knew it was perfect for the open-air, “secret resort restaurant deep in Saigon” concept they had been dreaming of.
“When we took over this place, we loved it because it’s peaceful, and you don’t know what you are walking into when you show up.” Lemaire says. “We’re not looking to be fine dining. We love having kids running around and people interacting with each other. This place is built on friendship. I’ve known Thierry for almost 10 years. I take care of the management and he takes care of the kitchen. It works.”
The restaurant is based around natural elements coming together. A first-of-its-kind outdoor wood-fired grille envelops the surrounding atmosphere with aromas of smoke and perfectly-grilled meats and seafood. High quality local and imported products rotate at the creative whim of chef Faburel. You can’t even hear any traffic when you’re there.
The focus of the food is as mediterranean as possible. Faburel grills as much as he can, for the flavour and also because his uniquely-designed grille is a true gift from the chef gods. Patio does a host of different barbeque options: fish, beef, lamb, you name it.
The Angus beef ribeye steak (VND515,000) with garlic-roasted potatoes and a sherry mushroom sauce on the side is perfect. I can confidently say that if you want to have a proper steak in this city, this is the place in which to do so.
A blue crab meat stack salad (VND235,000) with gazpacho dressing, bursting with bright coriander and a healthy chilli spice, tasted as vibrant as it looked. Neon oranges and reds from the perfectly-layered shellfish looked familiar, but the flavours were a vacation from the typical spice profile one would expect from a dish like this in Asia.
“The food here is simple, very light.” Faburel says. “I don’t want to manipulate anything too much. A good ceviche is a great concept behind what I try to do here. Marinate in ten minutes and it’s done. We let the quality of the food speak for itself. There’s as little prep work as possible, and we always emphasize freshness. When we have specials, they will be gone. Because it is actually fresh. We are not a static concept. We are transforming all the time.”
Patio runs creative, ever-changing weekly specials. They host lunch on Sundays.