Banh Mi Caphe, Hamilton Central

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I wanted to love this place – really, I did. Partly because it’s the only dedicated Vietnamese restaurant around for miles, and partly because the service and decor are both excellent. The waitresses serving us were friendly and enthusiastic, we were served complimentary crackers as an appetizer, and there is a grunge chic atmosphere to the place that sets it apart from the typical Asian eatery. There’s only one problem…

We both ordered beef pho, the signature Vietnamese dish. Pho lives or dies by its broth, and their broth was somewhat lacking. Having lemon and chili served on the side was good (it’s supposed to be lime instead of lemon, but I appreciate that isn’t always possible to obtain here), and the noodles were well-prepared. But the broth had none of the heartiness and richness that drew me to pho in the first place. It wasn’t bad per se, but it tasted like a very watered-down version of pho, more sweet than anything else. The portions were also rather small – despite being an, ahem, vertically-challenged girl, I was still a little hungry after finishing a bowl.

They’re still the best (only?) Vietnamese in Hamilton, though, and as an aside, their house-made soda was excellent. I might return when the pho cravings truly overtake me again, and I’ve heard good things about their banh mi. Well, at least, I’ve heard that the baguette is excellent, but that they don’t have any pate in it??? Tell me it ain’t so. :( I’ll try for myself someday and report back.

 

Cost: $14 – $20 pp
Food: 3 Stars
Service: 4 Stars
Ambience: 4 Stars
Value for money: 3 Stars

 

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