Monday, March 3, 2008

Babar's Paradise

When I went to the website for The Elephant, it struck me that French and Thai is an unusual fusion for a restaurant to try to pull off. And to be honest, I left the restaurant without really noticing anything "French" about it, with the exception of a picture near the bar of Babar, the famous French cartoon elephant. If anything, it had a bit of a Latin American feel. But regardless of what the restaurant was going for vs. what they actually turn out, I really liked The Elephant.

The restaurant was pretty empty when I got there...but then again, it was 7pm on a Sunday. So I noticed that the space was smaller, but didn't get the sense that it was cramped. That all changed by the end of the meal. The dining area was filling up, the bar area was packed, and the tables were so cramped (literally zero space between tables) that to get into the booth side, they host had to pull out the entire table into the walkway, and then push it back in. Luckily I was sitting at a single table in the middle of the restaurant. But in that spot, I accidentally kicked the waitress and host when I crossed my legs. Oops!

Ok, enough complaining...moving onto the fun stuff: the food. Actually, drinks first. I mentioned how the restaurant felt a little Latin American to me. I think it was a combo of the chili pepper lights hanging and the sangria that I ordered. The sangria was really good...not too sweet, and very refreshing. They also have a very extensive and creative cocktail list, which is my guess as to why the bar area was so busy.

The menu is pretty large. As a non-pork eater, I was a bit discouraged at first glance when I noticed a lot of the dishes contained pork. Then I was happy to see a lot of different options for vegetarians, meat lovers, and those who fall somewhere in the middle (like me!).

Unbeknownst to me, I ordered the dish that everyone on every restaurant review raves about...the Moo Shu. It was served in a large (almost too large for the table, but I'll let it slide because it was so good) mixing bowl resembling a wok. Rather than being served in the more traditional manner with everything already mixed together, the ingredients came separated, so you could make each wrap to your liking.

The chicken had a great flavor and was cooked perfectly. There was an interesting Asian coleslaw made of cabbage, edamame, and some other greens. There was a section of bean sprouts, as well as red onions and carrots. Three sauces were also served...my favorite was the hoisin sauce, along with a chili paste and a spicy citrus sauce. You also have the option of making a wrap in a pancake (much like a tortilla) or in a large piece of lettuce. Both taste great, and are equally messy to eat. So prepare to get your hands dirty!

I also had some of my friend's pad thai. While it was pretty spicy, it lacked in flavor. I know pad thai shoudn't be swimming in sauce, but it was a little on the dry side. Maybe I just need to expand my pad thai knowledge before I totally pass judgment!

Overall, it was a fun experience. The atmosphere (while crowded) was lively, the food was really good, and the service was attentive. I could definitely see The Elephant becoming part of my stomping grounds!

The Elephant
58 East 1st Street
b/t 1st & 2nd Avenue
website
Menu Pages listing

1 comment:

Danny said...

Moo shu at a French Thai joint? That sounds interesting... and try not to kick 'em next time Shayna! ;)