I finally was able to lunch at Élevé during Walnut Creek Restaurant week where over 2 dozen of Walnut Creek’s finest restaurants offer 3 course prix-fixe lunch and/or dinner menus at prices ranging from $10-$40. The word Élevé is derived from the French verb, élever (to raise; to elevate), it also is a combination of the owners children’s names: Ella and Ava. It is clear that Chef and Co-Owner Michele Nguyen has a vision of raising the level of dining at her Vietnamese restaurant where no detail has been overlooked: the handcrafted cocktails are from a menu that was created by Thad Vogler, who helped develop the cocktails at Slanted Door, Camino, and Flora), to the commitment of serving the freshest organic ingredients to present a menu of updated classic Vietnamese cuisine and for providing a casual atmosphere where you can relax and enjoy the beautiful dining room and delicious fare.
It was a hot day and I was craving the fresh flavors of Shrimp Spring Rolls (gỏi cuốn in Vietnamese) so I ended up not ordering the special 3-course lunch… Instead, we began with refreshing rolls made with ethereal and translucent rice paper wrapped around crisp lettuce, cucumber, mint, vermicelli, and cooked shrimp dipped into a hoisin-peanut sauce. I love the chewy texture of the wrap and all of the flavors and texture combine to create a state of bliss in my mouth.
Our server recommended the Chicken Xào Lăn as one of his favorites. A spicy yellow coconut curry made with bean thread, earwood mushroom and sprinkled with fresh herbs was delicious served over a steaming mound of fragrant jasmine rice.
I had the Vietnamese Sandwich made with Spicy Grilled Pork ($10), which dare I say, rivaled the amazing Bánh Mì that I recently raved about from the Food Coma Cafe in Oakland (click here to read more about that). The baguette was lightly toasted and hollowed out and filled with a pile o’grilled pork that had been tossed with caramelized hoisin, along with the requisite cucumbers, pickled carrots and jalapeños, drizzled with a house chili blend sauce and garnished with sprigs of fresh cilantro. It was a very well crafted sandwich.
And for a mere $3, I enjoyed a side of Onion Rings, which were a little greasy and not as crispy as I like them, but then I prefer the extra crunch of the breadcrumbs.
It is hard to make the mental leap from paying $4 for a Bánh Mì, to paying $10 for one, but to me the difference in quality is worth the price, plus you do get to hang out in in some very nice swanky digs…