French Colonial Hanoi Eats Austin, Texas style
Here’s another share from my recent visit to Austin, TX for SXSW 2013. Austin is known for its live music and good food. For eight days I ate at a different restaurant or one of its many trailer trucks. Not one time did I have a bad or mediocre meal. But my favorite restaurant– by far– was the Elizabeth Street Cafe.
Karen Spezia of Tribeza Magazine, has quoted the restaurant’s owners, Larry McGuire and Thomas Moorman, as saying “that dining out isn’t just about being well fed, it’s about being transported.” After eating at their Elizabeth Street Cafe, I can only say that I agree one hundred percent with their postion.
The food is Vietnamese-French. I say Vietnamese-French rather than French-Vietnamese because the food IS more Vietnamese than anything. The fusion with French culture may be apparent in some of the aesthetics and the beautiful offerings in the boulangerie. But the food is more Vietnamese than French. They specialize in noodles, banh-mi and pastries.
From outside you cannot read this restaurant. Its facade does not impress. Most of the buildings in the area are low to the ground and not particularly beautiful. But once inside the restaurant, the environment is welcoming, airy and light; the waiters are physically beautiful, the people sitting near you will talk to you; the pastries have names you cannot pronounce, and the food….well the food is soooo good. No, the food is excellent.
Bun-with-chicken is a traditional Vietnamese dish. We selected bun-with chicken which is cold noodles with lettuce, bean sprouts , cucumber, carrot, peanuts and Nuoc Cham. The chicken was crispy, well seasoned and blended with the noodles, basil and mint was divine.
We selected Banh-mi prepared with tofu. This is a kind of traditional Vietnamese sandwich on a baguette type bread. I wouldn’t have expected tofu to taste this good. But yes it did. Tofu at the Elizabeth Street Cafe was excellent, firm, tasty, light and filling. What about dessert you ask.
I had a bread pudding made with croissants with an edible flower and blueberry poured over it. I am not a dessert person. But imagine a real French croissant, buttery and flaky converted to bread pudding. Not good for keeping ones cholesterol numbers low, but delicious.
We also had macaroons. This macaroon has blueberry and lavender paste and the taste actually defied my imagination.
The Elizabeth Street Cafe is located at 1501 S. First Street, Austin, Tx 78704 512 291 2881.