French Dining Gem in Chester Adds Vietnamese Flair Upstairs

Catherine Avalone/New Haven Register

Unless you’re plugged into restaurant world 24/7, you would never know that Vietnamese is trending again. Actually, it’s anything Southeast Asian. In Manhattan, you need voodoo chants to get a table at Bún-ker or Khe-Yo. The venerable Le Colonial in midtown is busier than ever. But French is also trending, with Cherche Midi in the Bowery and Dirty French taking reservations weeks in advance, seats at the bar impossible to snag.

A trend within a trend, who knew?

(Above, Crispy Scallion & Peekytoe Crab Rice Cake.)

It was with unbridled anticipation that I bounded up the stairs for the grand opening of The Good Elephant, or Bon Voi, the nifty new French/Vietnamese café brought to you by Linda and Everett Reid, owners of Restaurant L&E and French 75, conveniently located right downstairs.

After all, L&E is a serious restaurant, with a decidedly French outlook and I am a Francophile foodie ready to be dazzled. L&E sits at the quiet end of Main Street in downtown Chester, in the same location where the legendary Restaurant du Village once rocked the state. It’s now owned and operated by the Reids.

Spring at L&ESpring Upstairs to Good Elephant for Spring Rollsor Friday at L&E as the temps hit 60 Celebrate with...

Everett attended both the CIA and Le Cordon Bleu in Paris, and then worked in London for a couple years before the couple opened the highly regarded

American Seasons, and then Restaurant Mona, both on Nantucket island.After drastically changing course and retiring to an antique business in the Litchfield Hills, the couple was eventually approached to buy du Village from Cynthia and Michelle Keller.

They have completely recreated the space with a trove of European treasures and art from their former antique business. The charming front bar-room overlooking Main Street through large etched-glass windows is the place to be pre-theater.

Linda and Everett had been kicking around the concept for Bon Voi a long while, having been inspired by a dinner they had in Paris some 20 years ago at Tan Dinh, a Vietnamese/French restaurant in the 7th district, the extremely pricey neighborhood where the Eiffel Tower resides. But they have been honing the Bon Voi menu with sous chef Joe Roberto for over a year.

The grand opening was crowded, with every food writer from Fairfield to Fenwick buzzing about. The intimate upstairs space has vaulted ceilings, subdued lighting and a small bar at one end. Tables and chairs were moved aside and it kind of had the energy of a house party (if your house party had an attractive hipster waitstaff offering you exotic cocktails and one great menu item after another).

See the full story at the Shoreline Times.

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