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Let's Do Lunch: Green Elephant Vegetarian Bistro & Bar
Fall 2017 Restaurant Week Portsmouth & the Seacoast

Green Elephant Vegetarian Bistro & Bar

Featured Restaurants by Kristyn Lak Miller/Photos: Kindra Clineff / October, 2017

By uniting favorite flavors from China, India, Malaysia, and Thailand, Green Elephant proves that great food knows no borders; and by serving a wholly vegetarian menu, it demonstrates how indulgence and gratification go hand in hand with health and compassion.

The Green Elephant’s mindful dining and full-on fusion first appeared in Portland, Maine, almost a decade ago. In 2015, co-owners Dan Sriprasert and Bob Wongsaichua opened a sister restaurant in Portsmouth, New Hampshire, with a prominent position adjacent to Hampton Inn & Suites in the city’s Portwalk Place.

GreenElephant-interior335x

Open for lunch and dinner, the warm and inviting space incorporates natural elements like wood and stone throughout, and—to celebrate the city’s thriving art scene—it features an ever-changing display of work from local artists on the walls. The 75-seat restaurant also includes an 11-seat custom-built wood bar, softly illuminated by fixtures from Thailand.

GreenElephant CrispyWontons

Diners of all descriptions, from die-hard carnivores to live-well vegans, get a thrill from the deliciously diverse menu—and those who avoid gluten will also appreciate thoughtfulness such as a dedicated gluten-free fryer. Tempting appetizers include Crispy Wontons, stuffed with vegan cream cheese and spinach, fried to perfection, and served with a sweet and spicy chili sauce. “We get requests all the time to bottle and sell our chili sauce,” says General Manager Deb Simmons. Fresh Rolls, where rolled-up rice paper wrappers hint at what’s tucked inside (in this case, carrots, avocado, lettuce, rice vermicelli, and mint), beg for a dip in the rich peanut sauce. If you want something more substantial, follow the soup with the Tempura Asparagus Salad, with a coconut milk-chili dressing that hits just the right cooling-invigorating note on top of crunchy asparagus, red onions, red bell peppers, a hard-boiled egg, and fried shallots.

Gorgeously plated entrees include Thai Ginger Noodles, where stir-fried wide rice noodles are transformed with the likes of tofu, ginger, broccoli, snow peas, and scallions. “It’s similar to a traditional drunken noodle,” says Executive Chef Sriprasert. The staff favorite is Siamese Dream Curry, a thick coconut curry soup that surprises with new discoveries in each bite, like rice noodles, tofu, spinach, fried shallots, and cashews.

GreenElephant SiameseDreamCurry

How to complement such offerings? “We have six draft lines and feature local beers,” Simmons says. “You will often find Maine Beer Company, Neighborhood Beer Co., Stoneface Brewing Company, North Country Brewing Company, Throwback Brewery, and Smuttynose Brewing Company/Smuttlabs in the lineup. We also offer vegan and organic wines, crafted to pair beautifully with the food.” And then there are the cocktails, expertly made by the Green Elephant’s knowledgeable and creative bartenders, and elevated with details like fresh-squeezed juices. Ziggy Stardust is made with bourbon, house-infused chai vermouth, pomegranate juice, and lemon and is topped with rose petals. Black Swan features vodka, elderflower liqueur, house-made organic blackberry puree, and lemon with a fresh-mint garnish.

GreenElephant ZiggyStardust

To satisfy anyone with a sweet tooth, desserts include Chocolate Orange Mousse Pie, with a decadent, Cointreau-kissed chocolate mousse that fills a chocolate cookie crust, garnished with chocolate-dipped orange slices. Fried Banana and Coconut Ice Cream consists of a deep-fried coconut-crusted banana coin served alongside creamy coconut ice cream topped with roasted peanuts.

Named for Sriprasert’s favorite animal—and the symbol of luck and fortune in Thailand—Green Elephant takes its dedication to the planet beyond its veg-only menu. “We use a local supplier and source local and organic ingredients whenever we can,” Sriprasert says. And they use local composting service Mr. Fox for waste disposal. With its seriously sumptuous, eco-conscious eats, the Green Elephant has certainly brought luck and fortune to Portsmouth’s dining scene.

Green Elephant Vegetarian Bistro & Bar
35 Portwalk Place
Portsmouth, NH
603-427-8344

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