September 18, 2009

elephantjournal.com restaurant review: Elephant Hut, in Boulder.

The Short Story:

Basics: You can reserve a table on OpenTable.com. Located at 30th St between Pearl & Valmont” (2500 30th Street, Suite 101) at Steelyards Place and open from 5pm-9pm Mon-Sat. Phone: 303.991.1899. GLBTQ and Buddhist friendly!

Eco: “To promote the national “Get Healthy Stay Healthy” campaign and to support the local economy, Elephant Hut endorses the essential earthly concepts of organic food production, small farms, sustainable agriculture, recycling and composting, and chooses organic whenever possible.

Elephant Hut’s philosophy: a gourmet culinary experience can be created out of vegetarian, healthy, and environmentally friendly foods. Furthermore, their 100% natural biodegradable packaging provides a viable, non-toxic, disposable alternative, which even allows for them to be reheated in the microwave.”

Prices: Affordable.

If I’m going there with Friends what day of the week kinda place is it: It’s a Monday Tuesday Wednesday Saturday kinda place for dinner; any day for lunch.

Food: Amazing. Rich, healthy, good to look at, even better to eat.

Spiciness: Yes—if you want it. Not at all, if you don’t. They rate their dishes with a little chili pepper, so easy to tell.

Diet options: offers gluten-freen, vegetarian/vegan options.

Is it a good date place: very. Intimate, fun, elegant yet unpretentious. Warm, cozy, romantic.

Have to drive: 5/10. It’s on 30th and Spruce, or something—the Steelyards, right by Pekoe (formerly Joe’s cafe) and PC Pantry. So kinda far. For those who bike a lot, it’s an easy ride close to the bike path. My date and I rode. For those who don’t bike a lot, you’ll probably want to drive.


The Long Story:

Elephant Hut just might be my favorite new restaurant on the Boulder scene. I looove spicey food, and I’m a vegetarian, and it’s got more options than nearly any other restaurant I can think of in Boulder. That said, it’s got plenty of delicious fare for the non-spicey and/or meat/fish-loving set. And at least some of that meat, like the chicken, is free-range (which, if you love animals and love eating them, is important).

The colors are all soft, warm greens, the decor is elegant, simple, refined, exotic without being overly distracting. The prices are reasonable. The word-of-mouth is to die for—everyone I’ve talked to has loved the place, and become an evangelist for it—as have I, myself, and at least a few of my friends have gone there since I did, last week, and by all reports they loved it, too.

Elephant Hut’s cuisine is the real thing. Pi Kasesant, the founder, is Thai, as is the cook and at least one of the waitstaff. All the waitstaff were friendly, helpful, well-mannered (sometimes a rarity, in Boulder) and yet charming and warm.

There’s great local beers on the list. My friend had wine, and enjoyed it—not sure if I remember any locals or organics on the list, but she seemed happy. We had a few appetizers, and shared two entrees, and appreciated the clearly-marked menu with chili pepper symbols indicating spiciness, V’s indicating vegetarian or vegan, I don’t remember, and even a healthy number of gluten-free options for those who have special dietary needs.

It’s on my list of favorite restaurants, and I’ll keep recommending it, and I’ll be back soon, myself.

PS: some info, via Pi:

Elephant Hut contributes 5% of net profits toward “Saving the Thai Elephant Project” by Thailand’s National Elephant Institute and toward the Elephant Nature Foundation by Lek Chailert, Ph.D, whose life-time work on elephant preservation has been featured by National Geographic, Discovery, Animal Planet and BBC.

In a few weeks, I will also be launching the Elephant Hut Web site with real-time online ordering (a first for any Thai restaurant in the US).

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