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 mélange 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.
A common scene at The Wine Cellar: servers toting percolating pots of gruyere, emmental, or gorgonzola to diners, who in turn dip skewers of bread or potatoes into the steel cauldrons of melted cheese. This celebrated practice of submerging things into other, more scalding things isn't the only European tradition The Wine Cellar draws upon; its menu culls culinary influences from around the great continent, including France and Switzerland. In addition to sizzling up pots of oil or vegetable broth in which guests can cook their own beef, tiger shrimp, or rabbit, the chefs forge a spread of signature dishes, including tartifletes and roblochonnades, and pierrades made at the table in front of guests. They accompany this transatlantic fare with an international wine list, which sports hearty reds and delicate whites from vineyards and grocery-store aisles around the world.
Although the menu remains firmly rooted in the Old World, the dining room evokes classical American aesthetics. Exposed brickwork and wrought-iron lanterns surround the tables, and one wall sports a hand-painted mural of a Boston streetscape.
Pigalle's casts a romantic spell inside the unassuming brick building, with cream and earth tones, columns, and classic white-linen table settings. Inside the soothing confines, unfold a menu, fold it into a paper crane, then unfold it again to discover a savory appetizer such as duck-liver mousse with toasted brioche, cornichons, and caper berries ($15). Experience the classic and unknown simultaneously with Chef Orfaly's adventurous entree creations, such as the shrimp scampi with house-made tomato fettucini and cherry-tomato herb-butter sauce ($25) or the crispy half duck with turnip succotash, potato puree, and sweet and sour oranges ($32). Lighten a meal with a fresh mango and avocado salad (crumbled goat cheese, grapefruit vinaigrette, and basil oil, $16), or grab the roasted sirloin, mushroom, and foie gras strudel, with red-wine sauce and creamed broccoli ($35), to become as full as a cartoon cat attached to an air hose.
La Voile serves up authentic, stylish French cuisine in a cozy, elegant atmosphere. The restaurant’s extensive menu of flavorful fare is guarded by its duo of extensively trained chefs, both of whom have experience at restaurants such as Guy Savoy and Alain Ducasse and graduated from culinary schools in France, where food was invented. Start with an appetizer of mussels in curry sauce ($12) before moving on to the meatier horizons of a pork chop served in its own juices with juniper berries on a bed of sauerkraut ($22). Mediterranean sea bass comes simply roasted with a beurre blanc sauce ($33), while crispy breast of duck is served a l’orange with a cinnamon glaze alongside fingerling potatoes and spinach ($26). The dessert menu’s warm pear tart ($9) and crème brûlée ($8) are available to complement taste buds’ post-prandial high-fives. Daychewers can also stop by for a midday munch from the lunch menu, including gnocchi “Caprese” ($12), a handful of hand-friendly sandwiches ($10.50–$13.50), and roasted organic chicken with potato purée ($17.50).
After graduating cooking school in Paris and testing his skills in French brasseries, Ian Just made his way back overseas to Les Zygomates and has been providing patrons with authentic French cuisine since its opening in 1994. The dinner menu is served starting at 5:30 p.m. and kicks off tastebud tournaments with a smorgasbord of small plates, such as the savory lobster and creamed leek crepe with black truffle sauce ($14). Munch on a bowl of mollusks with parsley and garlic butter ($10), discover a new appreciation for root vegetables with a plate of roasted beets paired with aged goat cheese ($9). The main meal stage pleases palates with plates of scallops accompanied by celery root puree, haricots verts, and brown butter sauce ($28). Molars and incisors exercise their functionality by working on grilled lamb chops with fava beans, leeks, fingerling potatoes, and bordelaise ($28), while swiss chard, potato mousseline, and reduction sauce ($23) saves chicken from its reputation on the worst-dressed list.