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Elephant Walk: do you like it?

I've never been to the Elephant Walk, but I used to hear about it and want to go. I live in Central MA, but I'll be in Brookline (and Waltham) with a friend and we were thinking of going to one of the locations. Do you like this place?

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  1. Not really and certainly not for the price.

    1. you know, when i first moved to cambridge (mid 90s), the elephant walk was really exciting- i went there a few times and really loved it. i didn't know enough about the restaurant scene then to compare it to anything else but i do know there was a lot of buzz around it. ten years later, it seems to me that if you want to go to a nice restaurant in cambridge (or even boston), there are so many choices that rival elephant walk in ambience, food, and price. so the answer is - sure, i like elephant walk - but there are a bunch of places i like a lot more.

      1. I like it. It's not a go-to place for me, but I've been a few times and enjoyed it each time (the spring roll-ish things and some chicken dish that might have curry especially).

        The lunch prices are pretty reasonable; that might be a good way to try it.

        1. i was there last week, in cambridge. it is still very good off of both sides of the menu. the loc lac is inspired and the cambodian spring rolls are the best in the city. the cornish game hens were also perfectly cooked. i would go at least once because my bet is that you would return.

          1. Well, Elephant Walk is a bit Westernized, and it is comparatively expensive, but not everyone is adventurous enough for the specialties at very authentic places like Floating Rock. It's "Cambodian for beginners": a very pleasant setting, good service, cocktails and wine, and a whole French half of the menu for people too timid to even dip a toe into the Cambodian pool.

            I happen to think it's very good, and a good fine-dining option for vegetarians. I wish they had preserved the Cambodian-only, family-style menu at Carambola in Waltham, which seemed a bit less patronizing to Western diners, but they've remolded it into an Elephant Walk, too.

            I think the French half of the menu is predictably sub-par, and I always scrupulously avoid it until the dessert course. If you want French, go someplace that's doing French all the way.

              1. re: Luther

                Do you find Cambodian cuisine boring in general, or just Elephant Walk's? Any suggestions for Cambodian places that aren't boring and/or overpriced?

                1. re: MC Slim JB

                  The extent of my familiarity with Cambodian food is that I've been to Floating Rock and thought it was pretty good, but nothing worth going back to Revere for any time soon.

                  I have a low tolerance for stuffy high-mid-priced restaurants with food that isn't exciting enough, or service that isn't good enough, to justify those prices. Sort of like my rant about Helmand a while ago.

                  1. re: Luther

                    stuffy? how so? it is a pretty relaxed place, in my opinion. the loc lac is one of my favorite dishes, period. and i wouldn't consider it a boring dish. the place in cambridge has a very solid kitchen, i dont get your gripes

              2. my first post on this board!

                well, i will also defend elephant walk (the boston and cambridge locations, never having been to waltham). i think it occupies a unique niche in boston where you can have access to a good wine list and slightly upscale ambiance without being obliged to spend $20+ per entree.

                i agree with the above poster, stick to the cambodian dishes. it is somewhat westernized and pricier than more authentic establishments (and being asian-american i'm sensitive to that), but i think it's a good place to go, especially in groups since there's a wide selection of dishes to choose from. and for vegetarians, there are actually several options to choose from, other than the one token vegetable pasta/lasagna/etc often seen at other places.

                for new year's eve, i had an enjoyable 3 course prix fixe for $30 plus shared a nice bottle of wine (their "nick's pick") that was around $28, i think. and the food was very good -- maybe not knock your socks off, but still very good, as was the service and ambiance. a nice difference from the jacked up prices most other restaurants were offering that night!

                1. Their prix fixe meals are a really good deal -- I think they vary from location to location, but generally between $25 and $35 for a three-course meal. It's not my favorite, but I always like it.

                  1. i went a couple years ago, so i'm not sure if its different now, but it was a great meal. I think we mostly ordered across the menu, and shared appetizers, each had an entree, shared desserts and some wine.

                    What i enjoyed was that you don't feel too full at the end of the meal. it was the perfect meal to try all the courses and not feel so full to the point of being sick at the end. the food isn't the cheapest, but i thought it was an enjoyable experience.

                    1. I own a copy of The Elephant Walk Cookbook.. some tasty recipes found in there taken from the menus. Have never been there myself but I have prepared a few of the dishes found in the book. Get yourself a copy and have fun expanding your influences!!!!

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: CuzinVinny

                        I have that cookbook too, and I think we had as much fun trying to locate some ingredients in Chinatown as we did eating what we made from it last time. :)

                        I've always enjoyed how it feels fancy but doesn't break the bank -- I haven't been since last year when I was at the one in Brookline and I had a tasting menu that was wonderful. I have only ordered Cambodean food there, and don't have much to compare it to. I think it did seem to lose it "specialness" in my head after several of them popped up though.

                      2. We went to the Elephant Walk in Waltham a couple of months ago. I had heard great things about the one in JP and had never tried Cambodian food. Unfortunately we were not impressed. My braised short ribs were good (hard to mess those up), but everyone else was a little disappointed in their food. It was all good, but not great. The service was very slow, the room was too brightly lit, and the wine portions were miniscule. Also, we did the math - the prix fixe menu was actually more expensive than ordering three courses off of the menu, and the prix fixe portions were small. (Two of us did prix fixe, two did not.)

                        If you're going to be in Waltham there are a ton of great choices. I'd go to Il Capriccio, New Mother India, Taqueria Mexico, or Solea.

                        1. For me (and especially my wife) there has always been a single reason to go: Amok Royale. Each location does it a bit differently, but at all locations I have been told by servers it is the top selling dish. It's various bits of steamed seafood in a wondrous Malaysian-style (i.e. coconut based)curry broth, steamed in a banana leaf. Getting hungry for it just writing this note. Give it a try. If you don't love it, don't go back.

                          1. I definitely think its overpriced. I havent been there in a year or two, but i found the presentation lacking, and the food is OK. I am a celiac though, and I love that they have a gluten free menu. Their wine selection is pretty decent too. I agree that you ought to give it a try and decide for yourself.

                            2 Replies
                            1. re: julseydesign

                              We have been invitited for dinner tommorow night. This would not be my first choice but I am looking forward to it.

                              In general I prefer the unusual. Although I am primarily a carnivore I obviously don't want steaks or seared tuna at a French/Cambodian place. Any recomendation on Cambodian drinks, special food (the Amok Royale sounds good), etc.?

                              1. re: drbangha

                                I've been to the Cambridge location several times and always had a good meal. It never seemed to me as being high-priced, although I probably haven't been in a couple of years.

                            2. Yes. We (my husband and I) go to the one in Cambridge from time to time (We don't eat out much). The team I work on at work includes two of us who are vegan and gluten-free, so our team has gone to the one in Waltham for our holiday lunch for the past two years. Everyone on the team can find something they like.

                              1. Stick to the Cambodian items and give the French section a pass and you should do fine.

                                1. I probably go to the Boston location a half dozen times a year or more with a group of 10-12 & I haven't gotten tired of it yet. 1st choice of our med students. Works well for the vegetarians in the crowd and great glee is taken ordering all the desserts and sharing them. They especially like the Thai tea.

                                  1. I used to go to the Boston location quite often but haven't gone much for the past few years. The food has gone way downhill and the service is horrible.

                                    The past two times I have gone were horror shows. A waitress spilled an entire glass of water on me without so much as an "I'm sorry" or offer of towels. Not a peep from the manager.

                                    The last time was about a month ago. Unbenowst to us, the ceiling was leaking right on to my DC's leather coat all during our meal. Manager apologized and said that no one was supposed to be seated at that table becasue of the leak. Nothing else.

                                    I liked the food at their original location in Somerville (the one that was destroyed by the flood) but all the other ones miss the mark, IMO.

                                    1. Eh, it's ok for big groups, out of towners, or fussy people that like "safe" choices. I've been a few times and had the pre-fixe and although I like the newsletter, I don't like the restaurants (cambridge or waltham).

                                      1. I like Elephant Walk, although I agree that it no longer has the "Wow, you've got to try this place!" factor that it did when it first opened. Still, I've eaten recently at both the Waltham and Cambridge locations and continue to like the food and service. I have never ordered from the French menu. I, too, love the rouleaux (spring rolls), their spicy soups, Amok Royale, and the their desserts. And I've never had bad service there in all the years I've been going, since the original space in Somerville opened.
                                        They have, however, definitely raised their prices recently and are inching out of the moderate range, which is unfortunate.

                                        1. I have only been once, but I have to admit that I hated this place (as did my husband and, sadly, my visiting father-in-law). We chose it because my father-in-law is a vegetarian and we wanted something nice that would have several options for him. All three of us ate primarily off the Cambodian menu, and the best of the choices we had were only ok; the service wasn't great, either.

                                          1. Illyphee and I have a name for places like this... "over-priced and under-spiced."