The Elephant is (was??) on 1st Street between 1st and 2nd Avenues, very close to Holly, Wood and Vine's offices. For a long time it used to be open for lunch and I was a regular. The menu, which was the same at dinner at triple the price was excellent, and I was in love with the chicken curry, which I have mastered. Thank goodness.
The $4.50 mint and cucumber salad with grilled salmon was the lunch deal of New York. But to say that lunch custom was a trickle would be generous. It was a drip. And the drip was usually me and a couple of friends, sipping our Singha's and sweating over the beautiful, soupy curry with its plate of rice, chopped baby banana, mango and roasted peanuts, and the bowl of chicken, deep amber broth and vegetables. We trained the ever-changing French waitstaff to accommodate our whims, well-known to the entirely Hispanic kitchen, in this Indochine atmosphere.
The espresso was always terrible and dessert not worth mentioning.
But they closed for lunch about a year ago, and I defected to Prune next door, and stopped going there when that menu never. ever. changed.
So what happened? Illegal sale of alcohol: since the bar was the main feature of the place one assumes the license was OK. Underage drinking, maybe?
This place was an institution. I'd like to know what happens now.
4-9-2009: went back today and shutters are up, notices gone, and a cleaner working inside. The Elephant is back
4-14-09: according to a source at The Elephant, an upstairs neighbour complained "91 times" to the police about the restaurant selling alcohol to minors. He said it has been an ongoing beef with an unhappy neighbour. In addition two old tickets from the previous owner (Eric Lagrange) resulted in the police action which closed the Elephant for a week. Who owns it now? "Two guys from Spain bought it ten months ago".
The Elephant is taking reservations.