Last month, critically acclaimed Mi Linh got an extreme makeover, and now its visitors can get made up there, too. On February 13, the Vietnamese restaurant re-branded and opened as Red Lotus Spa & Bistro (9737 Manchester Road; 314-918-8868), a concept that combines owner Dee Dee Tran's background in both restaurants and beauty services by offering the best of both worlds under one roof.
"So far, a lot of people love it. Some other people think it's a little crazy," says Tran, who also owns and operates Jasmine Spa in Brentwood. "Being a mother, being a working woman, I think we are really busy. So if you have half an hour or an hour free to get services done, you might as well have everything. You get get a cocktail, appetizer or lunch at the same time."
Red Lotus eschews its former full-service model and replaces it with a more casual approach. Upon entry, bear left to grab a seat at the bar or in the dedicated dining room. Bear right instead to sit in a top-of-the-line massage chair over dinner, or to decide on beauty services over drinks and snacks at a pub table. The spa foregoes the acrylic and chemical treatments that saturate the air at typical nail salons, Tran assures, so dine with confidence.
Dishes -- excluding the restaurant's mighty pho ($12) -- come served in handy to-go packaging for increased mobility. Many of the menu items from Mi Linh didn't make it past the chopping block throughout its retooling, though popular dishes including the butter-garlic chicken wings ($6 for four; $9.50 for eight) are still available.
The bistro does introduce one new offering, however: banh mi ($4.50-$4.75), Vietnamese sandwiches in airy, crispy bread. The delicate baguettes come filled with housemade butter, mayonnaise, jalapeños, cilantro, cucumbers, pickled carrots and daikon, and your choice of tofu, egg, grilled chicken, steamed chicken or grilled pork.
Besides banh mi, select from a list of appetizers, salads, traditional vermicelli noodle bowls, pho and one dessert: fried bananas with vanilla ice cream ($6.25). From the bar, choose from wine, beer, soda, tea, Vietnamese coffee, cocktails and fruit smoothies. Cocktails include the "Red Lotus" ($9) with house-infused lychee vodka, Aperol and cranberry, while smoothies ($4.75-$5.50) include jack fruit, avocado, strawberry and durian flavors.
Spa services include manicures, pedicures, skin care, massage and hair design. Party packages are also available for birthdays, bridal showers and special events and include various combinations of spa services, food and drink options.
Red Lotus Spa & Bistro's current hours are Sunday through Monday from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m., Wednesday through Thursday from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m., and Friday through Saturday from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. For the full menu and additional information, visit the Red Lotus Spa & Bistro website.
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