Saigon in Walnut Creek
Dinner before the theater last night at Élevé, on the corner of Civic and North Main. We’ve been there before, but as the restaurant has matured I thought it was time to write about it again.
Since our trip to Vietnam last December, Micky and Linda and Gail and I think we are experts on Vietnamese cuisine. Two weeks on a riverboat makes you an expert, right? Here’s what I know for sure: we didn’t have anything in Vietnam that tasted nearly as good as what we had for dinner Friday night.
Mike, the appetizer expert, said we had to have the shrimp spring rolls. They are much better than the vegetarian spring rolls, he said. They sure looked good:
These things are so good that Mike was pouring the dipping sauce over the lettuce and finishing everything on the plate.
I didn’t think I wanted to try these, but I was wrong. The calamari, stuffed with chicken and wood-ear mushrooms (gaak!!! I ate mushrooms.) are wonderful, probably the best dish on the menu. Don’t miss them.
The wok fried steak is sort of a Vietnamese take on Mongolian beef–strips of meat tossed with onions and chile and quick fried. The blue lake beans are just barely cooked through, still crunchy and seriously spicy.
We ordered a side dish of the corn and cauliflower, and so should you. I have no idea how they prepare it, I just know it tastes great and mother said to eat my vegetables.
The waiter first said they were out of the curry sauce for the snapper, then some miraculously appeared. The fish is served on a bed of bean thread and mushrooms, and Gail went mildly crazy over just that part even without the fish.
The first time we ate here, they were all modern and green and didn’t have any decent sweetener for my tea. They are smarter now: I could get Splenda. That’s a good thing, he said channeling Martha Stewart.
I wasn’t very good in French class when it came to paying attention to the diacritical marks. It turns out that eleve is a student, and élevé is the verb to lift up or elevate. The goal of Élevé is lift up your dining experience, and I think that they have achieved their purpose.