Have you ever walked into a restaurant and you immediately feel like you are part of the family?
It starts with that moment, just before they greet you, where you can sense the warmth growing inside of you as they glide towards and open the door with a beaming smile, an infectious energy and an open heart, as though they have known you for years.
I have found that this is extremely rare and when it does occur the simple act of eating a meal is transformed into a beauty of art.
This exact moment occurred last night as we experienced the magic of Sydney restaurant, Red Lantern’s hospitality, award-winning food and unrivaled atmosphere.
It is so rare that a dining experience feels so seamless that you become fused in the narrative.
Owned by award winning author, international speaker and spiritual entrepreneur – Pauline Nguyen; celebrity TV chef, MasterChef Vietnam judge and author – Luke Nguyen; and phenomenal Chef, Ready Steady Cook TV host and Master Chef Australia guest Chef – Mark Jensen.
We were treated to the decadent and mouth-watering Vietnamese flavors from the Saigon Scrumptious Tasting Menu.
The delicately crafted meals where full of unique and delightful flavors such as Muc Rang Muoi, chili salted squid; Cuon Tom, rice paper rolled Tiger Prawns; Ca Chien Com, fish fillets with green mango salad and chilli lime; and Ca Ri Vit, red curry duck with kumera and Bok Choy.
The loyal, connected and phenomenally friendly staff created a calming and energetic mood, all in one.
Led by restaurant manager, Lorraine, their wine selections didn’t just match the food, they gave it a whole new life and meaning.
We had the pleasure of Pauline joining us for a delightful and enjoyable conversation that made the evening even more special.
What made our four hour dining experience complete, was seeing the pride, personal ownership and care for not only the guests, but also their fellow team members and the environment they work in.
We have never seen such an eye for detail and attention to quality as what we observed with all staff cleaning every mm of the kitchen, from floor to ceiling, including the bottles of fine alcohol, following the last dishes being elegantly plated and served.
For these reasons, Red Lantern is Julie and my number 1 restaurant for 2018.
Red Lantern website
Top 7 Restaurants for 2018
In 2018, Julie and I decided to choose a new restaurant or cafe each Sunday, many times with friends or family, that we had never been to before and enjoy either brunch, lunch or dinner together.
This simple choice has taken us to many wonderful places with outstanding food.
Many times we would walk in and kindly ask the waiter to choose our meals and wine based on what they thought would suit their first impression of us. It’s so much fun and you get to enjoy tastes and flavors that you normally wouldn’t select. We highly recommend you try this next time you go out for dinner.
So here are the 6 remaining restaurants, in no particular order, that made it into our top 7 restaurants for 2018:
Pilot – Canberra
Taxi kitchen – Melbourne
Black fire – Canberra
Pialaggo Estate – Canberra
Highroad – Canberra
The Point – Soldiers Bay