Amidst a row of unassuming storefronts and businesses along Broadway there is one that stands out. It is a beacon in white, a touch of elegance on this wide avenue on Chicago’s north side. As you step inside you feel as if you’ve entered an oasis from the noisy, bustling city. You can shrug off your cares and let this peaceful environment soothe the tension from your day.
This isle of serenity is Pasteur. For over twenty years the Vietnamese restaurant was a standby in the Edgewater neighborhood. After closing for a few years the Nguyens renovated and reopened the family business, and the result is a gorgeous spot that highlights the cuisine of their culture.
Their hospitality is as welcoming as their ambience, as we learned at our Chef’s Table event. As guests arrived we were greeted in the bar by bartender and mixologist Paul Tran, who I quickly named the “Bar Whisperer”. Tell him what tastes you like and he’ll create something magical for you. Or you can just peruse his menu of cocktails. I personally enjoy dirty martinis; his take, the Dirty Queen, includes Thai basil and chili bleu cheese olives.
We were there, of course, for the food, and we were soon treated to an exploration of Viet cuisine. As we sat in their spacious private dining room, decorated with centerpiece bouquets of peach roses and red calla lillies, we were treated to course after course of their specialties.
Our menu began with a trio of spring rolls, egg rolls, and dumplings.
The spring rolls were filled with fresh ingredients.
Our next course was Goi Vu Du Tom, a green papaya salad that as tossed with fresh herbs and topped with poached shrimp and roasted peanuts. It was a delightful collection of fresh, spring-like flavors.
Our next dish is what started it all – their Pho Bo, or beef soup. When they opened Pasteur in 1985 the restaurant specialized in this traditional soup. It’s nearly three decades later and this is still a staple.
This was followed by their Clay Pot Salmon, or Co Salmon Kho, and then Curry Beef. The beef is prepared with coconut milk, woodear mushrooms, angel hair pasta, and baby okra. To finish it off it’s topped with ground peanuts and fresh kaffir lime leaf.
After the heat and richness of this amazing dinner our dessert cooled things off, with fried banana and green tea ice cream.
Whether you’re looking for a romantic evening, a dinner with friends, or to impress clients, Pasteur is a restaurant that deserves to be on your destination list.
Pasteur, 5525 N Broadway Ave, 773-728-4800