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.
Bombay Mahal Restaurant's executive chef fuses traditional Indian flavors with contemporary twists to create a menu of truly innovative Indian fare. He harnesses the slow, steady heat of a traditional clay tandoor oven to seal in meaty juices, bake naan, and scare away thieving snowmen. The bustling kitchen whips up fresh creations such as curries, tikka masalas, and the specialty seafood masala with pan-seared scallops and shrimp. Thin, flaky crepes called dosai pay homage to southern India, and a vegetarian menu doles out dishes from the western and northern regions. The dining space emulates an exotic setting, swathed in a soft red glow that washes over exposed wooden beams and a divider carved with ornate designs, which are usually reserved for picnic tables vandalized by art students.
When they opened up Ristorante Marcellino's in 1997, owners Salvatore and Giovannina wanted to make sure their restaurant captured the flavors of the traditional Italian cooking they grew up with in their hometown of Calabria, Italy. Therefore, they emphasize the authenticity of their ingredients, which help craft housemade pastas and sauces, as well as bread that’s baked fresh in a wood-burning brick oven. It’s this attention to authenticity that led the Boston Globe to praise Ristorante Marcellino as a "clubby Calabrian gem of a restaurant."
At the downtown Waltham restaurant, visitors driving in or landing a reasonably sized blimp can take advantage of ample parking. The kitchen stays open late, and three bars serve up espresso martinis before or after meals.
Inside a spacious setting adorned with Thai-style woodcarvings, stately pillars, and hanging plants, Erawan of Siam's chef and owner prepares authentic Thai cuisine using techniques perfected across her more than 20-year career. She folds traditional herbs and spices into every dish, starting with appetizers such as the red-curry-infused todmun, a golden-fried shrimp cake served alongside a ground peanut and cucumber dipping sauce. From there, tongues traverse main dishes that, like the best Harlequin romances, span three levels of spiciness, progressing from sweet and mild stir-fried roasted duck with pineapple and scallions to grilled salmon laced with extra spicy choo-chee curry.
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.
Aaron Mateychuk, head brewer at Watch City Brewing Company, makes playful twists to time-tested beer styles, earning his pub accolades and press mentions including a three-year streak of awards at the Great International Beer Festival. The stolid Titan ale is a balanced American brown ale, and the vivid Hops Explosion IPA employs a backbone of malt to keep a covey of hops in check. A posse of seasonal beers allows the brewer to keep experimenting by crafting citrusy summer ales to match cascades of sunshine and autumnal pumpkin brews the deep red-brown of changing leaves. Mateychuk also tracks down various strains of European yeast to create limited-run series, which in the past have included abbey-style Belgian beers and German-style lagers.
Inside the bright brewpub, servers carry upscale pub fare to a wall of wooden booths and benches exactly like those used in professional sitting competitions. Surrounded by vintage beer posters and paintings, patrons dine on pulled-pork tacos, housemade crab cakes, and reubens on pretzel rolls. The kitchen integrates beer into dishes such as the IPA-infused lamb burger and a deep-fried burger wrapped in beer batter and topped with chipotle-lime mayo.