No matter what country her family was living in at the time, Longteine ?Nyep? De Monteiro?the wife of a Cambodian diplomat?always heard the same thing when she served dinner at one of her lavish parties: ?This is so good! You should open a restaurant!? It wasn't until the rise of the Khmer Rouge forced Longteine and her family to relocate to America that she began to seriously entertain the idea. Longteine finally opened The Elephant Walk in 1991, where she filled the menu with a m?lange of her favorite Cambodian and French recipes.
Since then, Longteine?s daughter Nasda and her son-in-law Gerard Lopez helped her expand The Elephant Walk to three locations. All three Elephant Walks separate their kitchens into French and Cambodian preparation lines, each staffed with chefs adept at both traditional and contemporary dishes. Each dish makes meticulous use of flavorful, wholesome ingredients such as ripe plum tomatoes, fresh tuna, Vermont goat cheese, and organic tofu. The Elephant Walk also serves up a host of vegetarian, vegan, and gluten-free variants.
The Elephant Walk loves to feed the mind as much as the mouth. During its regularly scheduled Cafe Science series, Brandeis professors deliver compelling lectures on a variety of topics from the Large Hadron Collider to explaining why science alone cannot turn water into chocolate milk. The restaurant has since given upwards of $200,000 to local, national, and international nonprofit organizations fighting poverty.
When he was honored as one of America's Best New Chefs in 2000 by Food & Wine, Michael Leviton was noted for “paring extraneous elements from his French-influenced dishes.” With six consecutive James Beard Award nominations (2005–2010), his desire for simplicity continues today. When not busy with his work as director of the Board of Overseers of the Chefs Collaborative—a network for chefs dedicated to promoting sustainable food—Leviton commands the kitchen at Lumière. Hailed by Boston magazine as one of the city’s 50 Best Restaurants in 2011, Lumière combines French flavors and preparations with modern techniques and a surfeit of local, organic, and sustainable ingredients. The menus routinely change to incorporate new or seasonal ingredients, though eaters can view the sample dinner menu to get an idea of the Leviton's creations and perfect handwriting. Meals unfold inside a 88-seat dining room with a 5-seat bar that serves local beers, international wines, and house-made specialty cocktails.
Wielding a bountiful bevy of certified U.S. comfort foods, Johnny's Luncheonette has garnered fame and fortune from myriad magazines. No matter how late you get up, Johnny's celebrated crunchy french toast ($7.95) is always waiting to greet your face. For diners whose style doesn't include a breakfast out of bed, Johnny's serves burgers and sandwiches as well as classic American dinners. Eating a 50s burger (served with coleslaw and a pickle; $7.50) brings people back to a time during which they almost certainly weren't alive, and a roast turkey dinner with stuffing, gravy, mashed potatoes, cranberry sauce, and choice of bread ($12.95) transports the mouth to a different day and age without the aid of a flux capacitor. Pair any delectable selectable with an old-fashioned malt ($5.50) or a raspberry-lime rickey ($3.50) to complete the mouthsemble.
Lauded by Daily Candy for accommodating raw and vegan diners, Prana Restaurant balances native temperatures with mouthwatering flavors in organic and gluten-free dishes. After being greeted by fresh hair streaming through wide-flung windows, diners dip flora-favoring taste buds into garlic, veggie, or fig balsamic pizza on naan crust ($10). Chefs trade off gluten-rich pasta for ribbons of zucchini in the pesto primavera entree, served raw or slightly warm with spinach, a seasonal garden medley, and almond-and-cashew cream sauce ($16). Chard leaves or chia-seed shells trump humdrum tortillas in a lunchtime burrito that bulges to bursting with vegetables, beans, guacamole, sour cream, and salsa ($12). Refuel after fatigue-inducing feasts or all-night model-UN deliberations by chugging a coconut-rich SuperCharger smoothie tinged with cacao, dates, and cashews ($9.75).
Waking up is the easy part. Choosing just one breakfast dish may prove a little more challenging. At In a Pickle, there are roughly 15 omelets to choose from, starting with the supreme, a medley of black forest ham, hickory-smoked bacon, and a garden’s-worth of vegetables, all the way to the El Diablo, a spicy mix of melted cheddar, sliced jalapeños, lime buffalo hot sauce, and tomato salsa. But that's just the beginning. A hearty selection of breakfast burritos and egg sandwiches comes next, followed by savory morning entrees like steak and eggs, eggs in a basket, and eggs benedict. Then, of course, comes the endless parade of sweet stuff, from thick slices of French toast dipped in vanilla and cinnamon, to pancakes stuffed with fresh fruit, chocolate chip cookie dough, Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups, or smaller pancakes. The lunch menu is equally as ambitious, offering up a slate of creative sandwiches, wraps, and panini. One possible standout––the triple-decker Jersey sloppy joe, which layers rare roast beef, Swiss cheese, Russian dressing, and cole slaw between three slices of marble rye. Of course, you could always take matters into your own hands by building your own sandwich, but be warned: with 11 bread choices, eight cheese options, and 20 possible condiments, the possibilities are endless.
Uncommon Grounds is more than just a gathering place for Watertown’s residents—it’s also a place where Watertown’s locally produced foods come together in the form of creative breakfast and lunch dishes. Nashoba Brooks Bakery and Russo’s Produce are just a few Watertown producers the chefs tap for ingredients to produce their delectable dishes. Fluffy lemon ricotta pancakes—infused with fresh lemon zest and ricotta cheese—are a big crowd pleaser with early-risers, as are the caprese breakfast sandwiches, which cradle strips of applewood bacon, smoked gouda cheese, and layers of pesto mayo between slices of ciabatta bread. That sort of creativity carries over to the coffee menu, where diners can choose from candy- and- dessert-themed lattes, such as the Almond Joy, the Milky Way, and the Cinnamon Bun brew, any of which is sure to awaken your inner child and exhaust its babysitter. Of course, Uncommon Grounds also keeps the spirit alive well into the lunch hour, doling out hot Panini sandwiches, burritos, and burgers.