Banh mi and pho are two staples on the Houston dining landscape. Most are dispensed in rather humble and great-value, family run operations where atmosphere and service are incidentals. Brand new Les Ba’get in Montrose provides an evolution from those types of restaurants with better presentation, a cooler, if still quaint setting and a touch of innovation from the tried-and-true homey Vietnamese fare.
To be expected, as ethnic cuisines become more familiar and rents in some areas – Montrose, for sure – are much steeper than the original enclaves, prices are little higher than the typical banh mi or pho spot. But, Le Ba’get is still a cheap eat, especially for Montrose, and a nice value. Sandwiches range from $5.75 to $8.75, pho is just under $10, and the most expensive item – Vietnamese steak and eggs – tops out at $12.75.
The menu is broadly familiar to the typical counter-service Vietnamese restaurant. There are sections for spring rolls and egg rolls, banh mi, rice plates (com) and noodle dishes (bun), but the sandwiches allow the option for a croissant instead of French-derived bread, the pho dispenses with proteins like tendon, and there is a section for Vietnamese breakfasts that are served all day. For the sandwiches, 24-Hour Sous Vide Pork Belly, Oak Smoked Brisket and Coconut Basil Shrimp join the popular grilled pork and a couple of other familiar items. The difference in presentation is much more dramatic. Plating and the dishes look much better than typical, most notably with the rice and noodles; restaurant-quality, even. And, Les Ba’get is a counter-service place.
Opened less than three weeks, the restaurant is not yet a well-oiled operation. The caution, “we are still soft opening” was overhead several times from the man taking orders behind the counter during a recent visit, and fulfillment of the order was slower than at other similarly sized places with just a handful of customers. The grilled pork was a little different than the typical banh mi filing, softer and less flavorful than the version at Les Givral’s Kahve on Washington, for example. And, the croissant was decent, but it was served in certainly was not one of the exemplary versions from Common Bond. But, the sandwich was satisfying, properly fresh-tasting and just $7.25. Plus, with a friendly vibe and having a bit of uniqueness, it gave the impression of place for which to root. It might be nearly there, if the noodle dishes being brought to at a nearby table tasted nearly as good as they looked.
To note, housed in an old cottage on Montrose, just north of Inversion, parking is at a premium with its limited number of spaces, but there will likely be street parking within a block or so.
1717 Montrose (between Fairview and W. Gray), 77006, (832) 548-1080