Les Givral Kahve raises the stakes with artsy Washington opening
Sitting in the new Les Givral's Kahve location on Washington Avenue was like embarking on a trip to the future.
Don't get me wrong, there's no weird Jetsons-esque futuristic space theme here, just a pretty, modernist space in a new strip mall with lots of stark white, an eye-catching sculpture along the main wall that looks like a cool, sideways version of pick-up-sticks,and the same tasty banh mi, vermicelli and Vietnamese coffees that had made the restaurant a hit.
But it put me in a mind to think about an episode of Mad Men where Don Draper goes on a trippy sojourn to Palm Springs circa 1962, ending up at a dinner party where he eats something mysterious his hosts tell him is Mexican food. To look at enchiladas as so foreign strikes the viewer, appropriately, as absurd.
But for every cuisine that makes it from the immigrant's table into the diet of the culture at large — Mexican, pizza, hamburgers, sushi, etc. — there must always be a starting point, and Les Givral's Kahve may have just designed the perfect space to convince non-adventurous eaters, those who never were want-to-be foodies or gastronomes, that Vietnamese food is as accessible as Chinese or Thai — or, you know, apple pie.
The menu, set on computer screens above the ordering stations, can apparently morph with a click to give newcomer's more information about any particular dish. And there were two distinct levels of sriracha sauce — an unlabeled one that brings the heat and one in marked squeeze bottles more apt for less aggressive palettes.
Get ready, suburbs. If this Les Givral's Kahve is as successful as I think it will be, you're about to discover the Vietnamese food we've been loving for years.