Bite of the Week is a weekly feature showcasing an exceptional meal or dish, curated by The Growler.
The newly opened Elephant Bar in St. Paul may just be the most beautiful under-the-radar spot now open in the metro—it’s a big, airy, well-lit place appointed with enough hardwood, lamps, and antique-y accents to outfit a Spyhouse coffee shop. Before his arrival at Elephant Bar, chef Lucas Almendinger has lit up the likes of Third Bird and the initial, ambitious rollout of Coop Creamery, making this pretty spot a place to watch.
The lunch menu is a good fit for the space—it’s smart and eclectic, offering a Crepe of the Day ($10), a Crab Cake BLT ($14), and a Duck Confit and White Bean Soup ($9), among other appealing options.
We ended up trying the Kebab Roll ($12), largely because of its novel serving vehicle: corn paratha, a Southeast Asian flatbread that has flakey, buttery layers and a pleasingly chewy texture. The dish comes with two skinny kebabs, each riding on their own corn patty and dressed with mint, yogurt, and delicate slivers of red onion; if you and a friend have a light appetite, this could easily feed two, particularly with the tater tots that come as a welcome if surprising side dish. While the kebabs are aggressively salty, the coolness of the yogurt and the mellow neutral nature of the bread balance that tendency out to make a dish that tastes thoughtful and well-composed overall.
While you’re there, check out the ambitious coffee menu. We tried and loved the Vietnamese Coffee ($4)—the Cafe du Monde was aggressively bitter and therefore a perfect complement to the accompanying sweetened condensed milk. Much like the salty kebabs and neutral paratha, the bitter and sweet came together in this beverage to make a harmonious whole.
The Dish: Kebab Roll, $12
The Place: Elephant Bar, 213 4th St. E., Ste. 100, St. Paul
The Reason: It’s a new twist on the conventional kebab-on-pita situation that introduces fresh textures and flavors