Those in search of chichi Vietnamese for the last five years have had only one option: the Gold Coast's Le Colonial.
With the reopening of Pasteur in Uptown, a once formidable contender is back on the scene, and its setting is lovelier than ever.
The restaurant's history is substantial. It closed in 2007, after 22 years, its owners splitting to start two different projects. Now, the original owner, Kim Nguyen, and chef, Dan Nguyen, have returned.
Start with a crispy rice-flour crêpe, banh xeo ($8), a fine and flavorful example of the form, though the accompanying romaine lettuce is a subpar wrapper for thick, shimp- and bean-sprout-filled wedges. Punchy ginger and a shower of kaffir lime leaves brighten bo xao lan, a dark, coconut-based beef curry ($16). Slices of pan-roasted duck breast draped over a salad of celery, pickled carrots and herbs ($9) nod to the kitchen's French-inspired side.
The French portion of the equation is also present in incongruous but intriguing dishes from co-chef Eric Aubriot. On our next visit, we intend to precede our bo xao lan with steamed razor clams with lemon and garlic confit, and foie gras with port reduction.
Pasteur, 5525 N. Broadway; 773-728-4800