The Elephant Walk
2067 Massachusetts Ave, Cambridge
Sundays – Fridays: 11:30 a.m. – 10:00 p.m.
5:00 – 10:00 p.m.
The Elephant Walk has locations in both Cambridge and Boston, and its most unique aspect is that it serves from an extensive menu of both French and Cambodian dishes. At the Cambridge location for a casual dinner, it took me a while just to read through the menu and choose dishes that would allow me to taste a variety of the restaurant’s offerings.
I ended up ordering Rouleaux, or Cambodian spring rolls, for my first appetizer. Although the spring rolls were crunchy, they were also very greasy. I tried wrapping the rolls with the greens and herbs provided, but it did not help much. Thus, I was glad when the second appetizer arrived — Crêpe au Canard et Champignons, crêpe with duck and mushrooms. In stark contrast to the spring rolls, the crêpe had very well-balanced flavors and no excess oil. My favorite part of the dish was the soy-ginger and tamarind juice that perfectly complemented the savory flavors of the duck and mushrooms. After these two large and filling appetizers, I realized that they could very well have been entrées.
Then came the Kuy Tieu, a traditional Khmer noodle soup with grilled sliced pork tenderloin. I had expected this to be a light soup, but I was once again surprised by the portion size. Although the restaurant listed this dish under the soup section, the amount of noodles in the soup could have put it under the noodles section at a lot of other places. As for the noodle soup, the ground pork was unfortunately very standard, and the rice noodles made for a fairly heavy dish.
After the appetizers and the noodle soup came the real main dish — Saumon Rôti aux Sauveurs d’Automne, Atlantic salmon on blue cheese polenta. Also served with sautéed spinach, chickpea ragout, and whipped farmer’s cheese, the dish was colorful in its presentation and featured a variety of flavors. Perfectly cooked, the salmon was seared at the top but otherwise soft. In addition to this contrast in texture, the flavor was also mostly concentrated on the top layer of the salmon. Forgetting about the blue cheese, I initially thought the polenta was fried tofu, and was surprised to find that it tasted like fried butter. Although the polenta served as a nice side, its flavor was too strong for my liking. Besides the salmon, the highlight of the dish was actually the whipped cheese, which was served cold and provided an enjoyable reprieve from the heavy flavors of the rest of the dish.
Given the unexpectedly large portions, I found myself full and decided to forego dessert. That said, although The Elephant Walk has a high sticker price, the large portions actually make the restaurant a reasonable choice for a wide spectrum of restaurant-goers. Those looking for a relatively cheap night out can order an appetizer and a soup, and those looking to splurge can choose from the three-course prix-fixe menu. All in all, the food at The Elephant Walk is not amazing, but if you are looking for some French and Cambodian cuisine, it is definitely worth the visit.