bahn mi with billy woods

Although a juice cleanse is in order after the past..ooooh..ten days or so, my friend Billy Woods was still in town and I was looking forward to sharing a (non-food truck) meal with him.  :)  It's always nice when people can stay a day or two before sxsw (or, even better, come a little early) to get some legitimate hang-time in.

We debated between Uchiko (2 hour wait, they told me on the phone), then Uchi (also a long wait when we stopped by), then Barleyswine (closed on Sundays!), before ending up at Elizabeth Street Cafe, where there was miraculously no wait!  Very unusual for this place.

  We like food. Food is good.

I'd been to ESC once before, for my birthday almost two months ago.  I had a great experience there and loved the pork belly buns we'd ordered, though wasn't super impressed with the bun (rice noodle bowl) I'd ordered.  The gulf snapper topping it was perfectly cooked, but the dish itself was rather plain and dry, leaving me with no choice but to add some fish sauce and plum sauce, thus overseasoning it.  (I was also already a few sakes deep at that point...)  Afterward, I realized it probably should have come with that succulent juice most bun dishes usually come with on the side...maybe they forgot to bring it?  Anyways, seeing as everything Larry McGuire touches turns to gold, I was determined to come back again soon.

grilled octopus salad

We ordered the pork belly buns and they seemed even more delicious this time around!  Sometimes pork belly can be a bit overhwhelming, but this was prepared so that it just melted in your mouth and left you wanting more.  They were gone in a flash and I didn't even get a photo.  Next, the Vietnamese wonton soup.  The wontons were nothing to write home about, but the savory broth had a real depth of flavor, tempting me to order pho.  Then, grilled octopus salad (kohlrabi, charred jalapeno and lemongrass dressing, mint, radish, fried shallot).  This was delicious, though a bit awkward to eat.. octopus really needed to be cut in slightly smaller pieces, though I do realize that would take away from presentation.

curry du jour

Next, Dzana ordered the curry of the day, which happened to be shrimp, mussels, and redfish.  Yummmm!  Would definitely get this again!  It was a well-balanced, complex curry, with just the right amount of sweet and heat.  It came with a toasted baguette and a patty of sticky rice on the side.  

house special bahn mi

I couldn't resist getting the house special bahn mi (chicken liver mousse, pork pate, roasted pork).  Two thumbs up!  I must say, this was just as good as the legit Vietnamese places up north (at twice the price of course!)  Let's face it, it's 75% in the bread, they bake theirs in house, and I approve!

While ESC only serves beer, wine, and sake, they do offer several specialty cocktails in pitchers.  We had the champagne punch (champagne, Lillet Blanc, passion fruit, grapefruit, lime, bitters) and I can't wait to return and try others.  Also must come back for delectable-looking desserts and BRUNCH! (though it ends at 11am...ouch).

The menu can't be found on their website, which is...weird.  But I found it here.

 "We're worried about you."
(Our faces are not a reaction to the food, but rather to the Rick Perry 
book we saw posted on our friend's Facebook wall)