On Saturday, we had a few hours to kill before a friend’s birthday party and finally had the chance to nom, nom, nom some killer Bahn Mi at Austin’s new French Vietnemese restaurant Elizabeth Street Cafe. Founded by Chef Larry McGuire who is slowly taking over Austin’s food scene one restaurant at a time (seriously, the guy has Lambert’s; Perla’s; Jeffrey’s and a new restaurant concept, Fresas opening next year). You can definitely tell this has Larry and Liz Lambert’s, what is now, signature touches to it. The curved seating, clean, bright colors, and a blend of Austin funkiness – mismatched wood chairs, eclectic artwork – to round it out.
Now let’s get to the food. The French influence on Vietnemese food is evident in one item: the Bahn Mi. A French baguette stuffed with the flavors of Vietnam – cucumber, cilantro, carrots, jalapeño, daikon, fish sauce and yummy pork or pate. We started with the Niman Ranch Pork Belly Steamed Buns with cucumber, scallion and hoisin sauce. Ohh, delightfully good. The buns were steamed to that just perfect pillow-soft texture and with the delicious juicy, soft pork belly it was an A+ bite of food. Exellent way to start the meal Chef McGuire.
We saw a lot of things we wanted to try on the menu but we knew our first visit to the restaurant would have to be all about the Bahn Mi. David ordered the House Specialty of Chicken Liver Mousse, Pork Pâté, Roasted Pork and I got the marinated pork. I’ve made my own Bahn Mi at home and had some at eateries here and there, but this by far was my favorite. The baguette was crispy outside (without crumbs falling all over the place), chewy on the inside with some super fresh and crunchy daikon, cucumber, carrot, jalapeño and topped with cilantro, sambal and mayonnaise with the perfectly marinated pork. In fact, they were so good, we ordered a third one to split! The housemade spicy pork meatball to be exact and yes, we snorted it. Total fat kids I know, but completely worth it.
To finish out our meal I had to get what’s being deemed as the new cupcake (honestly, I really don’t think anything is going to be the new cupcake), the canelle. Given the fantastic house made bread (seriously, amazing stuff) I was super excited about the canelle and it had a nice moist interior with a crunchy caramel crust – it was a perfect sweet bite to end our meal. I’m happy that (a) I work down the street from this place (b) that our home is right not too far either since it’s a perfect grab-and-go restaurant for a quick Vietnamese coffee and pastry or a nice little spot to sit down and eat 85 Bahn Mi.