RW--Elephant Walk--REALLY GOOD
Eight of us went to Elephant Walk in Porter Square last night for a birthday celebration. Most of us selected from the RW menu-it's posted on the RW website (sorry--I have no idea how to link on CH)--and the regular menu was available as well. They had no trouble combining the 3 or 4 course folks with those ordering from the regular menu whatsoever.
RW menu was a terrific menu with great options. You could choose a three or four course meal and they had special wines reccommended to match, available by the glass or bottle.
I started with he Belle de Brillet (sp)sidecar (tasty, a bit sweet and that was OK. I love pear.) Since I followed this with the Hendricks Heaven Martini--also good!--I can't rightly remember what all 8 of us had. :) I can tell you we each to a person loved it and I know for sure what I had:
Avocado soup (this was not creamy, as I imagined it would be) It was delicious, both tangy and a bit hot with lovely avocado--just terrific.
Followed by the St Louiis ribs--really good
I had their half game hen--also another stand out.
And yes, I will admit I went for the four courses and had the chocolate--deep, dense, delicious.
We shared a bit and I liked everything I tried--including hte other dessert, a passion fruit sorbet.
We all had wines. I had the Gruner vetliner which seems to be everywhere lately. MAde me want to run out and stock up on some for home--nice match to all the Asian flavors.
All in all, I loved it. Service could not have been more warm avnd friendly.
If I could afford the calories, I would do this all over again. I definitely recoomend it to all for RW!
I was at the Waltham location today for RW lunch and it was very enjoyable but I have had a gripe with the fried springrolls and I have had the same gripe since they first opened in Sommerville and then you got 3 rolls and two leaves of lettuce. How do you wrap 3 rolls in two leaves? Usually got an extra lettuce leave when ordering but now you get 2 rolls and ONE (1) lettuce leaves, still doesn't work.
We went to the Waltham location last night for dinner because EW has a reputation of being vegetarian friendly. What a disappointment. The fried spring rolls were far to greasy, and the sauce was completely tasteless. A salad that was billed a Cambodian salad consisted of wilted Costco greens, chopped peanuts and a dressing that was made with what tasted like bottled lime juice.
We split a tofu and rice noodle dish that tasted of sugar and canned tomato paste. Yuck.
On top of that, the service was very slow and indifferent. We won't be back. Too bad, because I do remember EW being really wonderful years ago.
On the heels of this review, we went to Elephant Walk last night for RW, and did not have the overwhelmingly positive experience of SeaSide Tomato, unfortunately. The vegan spring rolls were almost worth the rest of the evening - I have a soft spot for Vietnamese (and, I learned last night, Cambodian) spring rolls, served with lots of greens and mint to wrap with, and an addictive sauce... the avocado soup we found to be unusual but tasty, basically in a combination of orange and lime juices with bits of avocado and tomato floating around - but strangely a bit oily/greasy, which didn't sit well in a room temperature soup. Compared with the portion of the spring rolls, the soup serving was meager (it was probably 1/2 cup of soup in a very large bowl) - I understand about serving smaller portions during RW, but it would seem that across categories things should be about the same size - there was definite starter envy at our table, and a lot of looking from the soup bowl wistfully towards the spring rolls.
After the server cleared our food we chatted, and then, after about 15 minutes, began to notice that every other table was being served, including tables that had sat down after us. After twenty minutes, our second courses arrived (greatfully!) So. For the second course: the shrimp and wontons. The shrimp were reported as 'tasty, sort of like shrimp scampi in flavor', but the wontons were overly sweet and soggy. The avocado soup was subbed as a 2nd course, and arrived as above.
And then.... another twenty minutes. I enjoy a leisurely dinner, but last night pushed it a bit too far. We were at the restaurant for 2.5 hours, which was at least twice as long as those around us. After the second course and another twenty minutes, the server finally came over and apologized, and said that the other servers kept taking our dishes. She offered us free dessert, which we demurred, citing veganism and diabetes, and it was another ten minutes or so before the entrees arrived. Had I known we were still going to be waiting for so long, I would have ordered more spring rolls!
Dinner! Hurrah! The game hen was tasty, the accompanying rice was great, and the vegan tofu/vegetable dish was freshly prepared.
After dinner, she offered us dessert again, which we refused, again citing the diabetes/veganism at the table, and she brought them out to go anyways. It was very nice of the server to want to do something, and we just gave them to the neighboring table. Honestly, I would have preferred another order of those spring rolls!
So in retrospect, the food was fine, tasty even, but I didn't think it was priced appropriately, on or off of the RW menu. I don't really need to go back. I am sad because I've been thinking about the Elephant Walk for about three years now, and it had been on my list of places to go... I grew up going to Hy Vong in Miami, and had similarly high hopes for the French / Cambodian menu as the wonderful Vietnamese/French menu of Hy Vong.
Alas. On to Gargoyles tomorrow. If Gargoyles doesn't redeem RW for me, I am off of it for good. For the record, I am planning on spending much longer at Gargoyles tomorrow night... it's not that I don't enjoy a leisurely dinner, it's just that it didn't seem appropriate at EW.
We hit Elephant Walk in Boston during the Restaurant Week Extended Week. I'm so glad my friend is willing to share, cause I enjoyed some of my second choices much more than my first.
For Starters, we both had the Rouleaux, which was hot and crispy and fun to eat wrapped up in the cool veggies. (Two Cambodian spring rolls filled with ground pork, crushed peanut, beanthread noodles, carrot and onion; served with fresh greens and herbs for wrapping and tuk trey on the side for dipping)
As our Second Course, we had
*Croustillants aux Poires et Crevettes Flambées au Vin Blanc
Crispy wontons layered with warm Bartlett pear and scallion, topped with natural shrimp flambéed with white wine, leeks and garlic
*Sesame-Ginger Glazed Baby Back Ribs
Sesame-Ginger glazed St. Louis ribs served with a glass-noodle salad
The flavors of the wonton dish was great. It had 5 shrimp and three pieces of "wonton" - a good portion size.
The ribs were tender, but the flavor did not penetrate the meat. Three ribs were served besides the frisbee(?) salad
We went seafood for the Third Course.
*Coquilles St Jacques, Sauce à l'Orange Sanguine
Seared sea scallops with blood orange cream sauce, potato gratin and warm spinach
*Fillet de Haddock d’Atlantique au Basilique
Atlantic haddock roasted with a basil butter sauce, sautéed corn with cherry tomatoes and shallot
I loved the corn side of the haddock, but the scallop sides were rich and tasty. Three scallops were served, and a reasonable portion of haddock. The endive leaves added a bit of crunch, but were a bit wilted, so they were not appetizing looking.
For Dessert, we had both choices.
*Mousse aux Fruits de Passion
Refreshingly tart and sweet passion fruit mousse served in an almond lace cup; garnished with fresh pineapple macerated in dark rum, sugar and lemon juice
*Le Péché au Chocolat
A rich, creamy, chocolate truffle cake perfectly paired with raspberry sauce
"Truffle" perfectly described the small slice of cake served to me. The mousse was light and tasty, but a little too strong in passionfruit flavor to my taste.
I live in Brookline, and the Boston location of the Elephant Walk a short walk for me. I've never had a bad experience there and on Sunday I had their RW menu. The avacodo citrus soup which was wonderful, even though the avacdo seemed to play a small role in it's flavoring. The four courses are smaller versions of the regular dishes and each serving was perfect. The mussels were on the small side, but the broth and vegetables were very flavorful. I couldn't make up my mind about the entree because I had had the scallops before and wanted the haddock. The waiter was able to give me the haddock wth the sides that accompanied the scallops and again, I loved every bite. The passion fruit mousse was a perfect way to end the meal. I can't imagine anyone not having a great time there, but mistakes do happen in any place
I have really only eaten from the "other side*" of the menu -- Cambodian.
I stopped having a great time there a few years back. I used to be sort of a regular, but then the Cambodian food changed quite a bit, losing a lot of it's authentic character. My barman told me that Longteine decided the clientele at the Boston location would prefer less authentic and more apporachable cuisine.
Though the menu in Cambridge is basically the same, they may cook up more traditional chow.
Still, spilling an entire glass of ice water on a patron and a patron's food was a mishap which warranted an entirely different response than I recieved. Combined with my friend's ruined coat, I probably wouldn't go back even if the food was good. And I admit I am tempted after your good experience with the French side of the menu.
* menu used to be split with Cambodian on left and French on right.
Went to the Waltham location last fall. HATED IT! Loved the Porter Square location several years ago and even before that went to the old Somerville Location in Union Square. The Union square location way back when was out of this world. The Porter Square location was slightly less fabulous but still very good. But this was many years ago. Since then I have been only once and it was the Waltham location. We all hated it. I'll never go back. The service was aloof and the food has gone way down hill over the past 10-15 years. The Waltham room has no charm and the service seems very amateur.
I cannot agree with you more. We ate at the Waltham location twice in the last 6 months, and didn't enjoy either. The waitresses are surly, the place is extremely cramped, decor needs updating; and both times there were fruit flies buzzing around (even though it was winter/spring). Food was mediocre.
More recently, we ate at the Boston/Brookline location. What a dramatic difference! Large, airy dining room, waitstaff friendly, and food was much better.
Even though we live in Waltham, we'd rather go to the Boston/Brookline location than to the Waltham one.
I've been going to the Boston location since it opened but it's gone way too far downhill to ever go again.
Last year during RW the waiter dumped a full glass of water all over me and I got a curt "Sorry" but nothing else -- not even napkins to help sop it up.
I went with a friend earlier this spring and the roof leaked all over her leather coat. She said something about it to the hostess and the hostess replied that SHE never seats people there becasue of the leak (a waitress had directed us to the table). No sorry. No offer of dry cleaning.
Plus the food has been homogenized and dumbed down there. They did that deliberately some years back (I was friendly with the staff back then) but it has been bland and uninteresting of late.
IMO the Cambridge location is the only place to go.
I had dinner there a couple of times and enjoyed it each time.
A couple of years back, I took a cooking class with a friend there. Chef Gerard, was warm and inviting. Nothing was "off limits" for that Saturday. We cooked in his kitchen, and used his old, favorite pots that were well worn. He chatted, answered every question, and sat down to dinner with us and served great us our meal, by himself. He told some wonderful family stories of cooking in Europe and we made a delicious 4 course early dinner, with wine pairings, including Duck Confit (sp?).
I was very impressed and so was my friend. It was funny because the Globe foodwriter was there, doing a story on restaurants in Boston that gave cooking classes. After interviewing us and having dinner, she left. Later I saw a "blip" about it in the Globe. Not alot of accolades, yet she seemed to have a delightful time.