on July 19, 2007
The LocationLe Safran enjoys an excellent location. It is very close to the Mekong River Promenade; however, it does not enjoy a direct view of the river. The Namphou Fountain, the Prakeo Culture Hall and all other Vientiane’s main attractions are within walking distance and thus transform the place into a good stop after a long day of sightseeing and before a late walk by the beautiful riverside.The EstablishmentThe inner space of Le Safran was created having the customers’ comfort in mind; high ceilings, tasteful colors and pleasant tables placed at a respectful distance of each other ensure a pleasant visit. A small and unpretentious bar completes the picture. The outdoor area is separated from the street by a solid wall which blocks any breeze arriving from the river, thus it is somewhat wasted. However, there is plenty of greenery in the front yard and it is well covered, providing thus protection from the scorching sub-tropical sun.The CuisineLe Safran is the archetypal French restaurant in Vientiane. Acknowledging the changing clientele of recent years, dishes from other cuisines were added to the menu’s French core. The main additions are Italian and include pizzas and pastas, but steaks and hamburgers can also be found. Laotian and Vietnamese dishes are also served.PricesLe Safran is on the top level of Vientiane’s restaurants, thus it isn’t cheap by local standards. Yet, a complete meal wouldn’t cross the ten dollars mark, unless a very expensive wine would be added to it. Despite the overall low prices, it is possible to pay with credit cards.The ExperienceFor much of my prolonged stays in Vientiane, I didn’t bother to stop at Le Safran; simply there were too much French restaurants to choose from. Until one day a fellow traveler I met at the hotel’s lobby just couldn’t stop talking about the wonderful pumpkin soup with cream served there. Next day I went to check it out and fell in love with the place immediately; the dish included an excruciatingly fresh, crunchy and tasty French baguette. Seldom can such a perfect performance be witnessed so far away from the birthplace of a dish. Over time I managed to taste other main dishes, including the pizzas, which turned out to suffer from the ubiquitous South East Asian problem: a lack of good cheese that lead to a mediocre result. The spaghettis were good, but did not justify missing the French dishes which consistently turned out to be outstanding.The desserts were tremendous; the French crepes and the chocolate mousse provided exquisite experiences, though the caramel flan was somewhat tasteless. The crepes were served with a freshly made orange sauce, which is a rare and tasty treat in that part of the world. Overall Le Safran turned out to be one of the best dining options while in Vientiane, providing an exquisite experience in the immediate surroundings of the beautiful promenade which is the place to be on during the hot Laotian evenings.
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