A Mediterranean retreat in Ho Chi Minh city

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Au Parc is one of the most elegant restaurants in one of Ho Chi Minh City's most historic and beautiful areas near the Notre Dame Cathedral, Reunification Palace and the lovely April 30th Park.

The restaurant has an atmosphere of Parisian café with a touch of Mediterranean art. There are tables on the sidewalk outside the eatery facing the park and the ground floor is always a bit more crowded than upstairs.

Upstairs is divided into two dining rooms (smoking and non-smoking ). The non smoking room has vibrant Moroccan atmosphere with yellow walls, domes and colorful cushions, plus paintings featuring middle eastern ladies napping to avoid the heat outside.

But the best view belongs to the second upstairs dinning room.

There is a big glass wall-window offering sight of the park's giant old trees and the grass below.

From this window, life in Saigon suddenly becomes more romantic as the small streets surrounding the park don't teem with traffic the way they do in other parts of downtown.

From a distance, the motorbikes are almost swallowed by the park's small forest of trees.

Sometimes I stay until late afternoon reading and writing, watching the light gradually disappear atop the trees to be finally replaced by the darkness of the peaceful evening.

Au Parc restaurant
23 Han Thuyen street, Ho Chi Minh City

In the afternoon, Au Parc is a quiet, perfect place to chill out with camellia tea or a coconut. The friendly staff fills my cup of water whenever the glass is empty.

Au Parc offers Mediterranean cuisine at reasonable prices. You can choose a two courses menu (VND190,000) or a three-course menu (VND230,000). One of my favorite three-course menus includes a lentil salad with roasted tomatoes and feta cheese, sea bass with fennel confit couscous and petit pois, and a cup of Earl Grey-flavored crème brulee.

Cuisine at Au Parc is a journey around Mediterranean countries. The restaurant's highlights are a Greek salad with roasted tomatoes and feta (VND87,000-side, VND130,000-main); marinated lamb with chickpea salad with lemon-coriander-olive, oil dressing (VND210,000); and the lahmacun-Turkish pizza with chopped salad and cucumber yoghurt sauce (VND68,000).

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