By Julia Donnini
Although this writer’s first visit to Chef Leu’s House was post-renovation, it’s still evident that the restaurant has a new face. Apart from the complete reconstruction of its façade, Chef Leu’s will soon also finish renovations around back. Warmer weather is hinting and construction on a brand new deck has been completed. Sun-deprived from the extended grey skies? Chef Leu has you covered with the promise of outdoor seating.
But the nip in the air still hung on my trip down Shelburne Road, and the interior of the restaurant merited appreciation. The warm red booths and freshly painted orange walls hugged the new floor plan. Though my party wasn’t large enough to merit an entire room, I did have time to sneak a look at one of Chef Leu’s new spaces, a large but cozy area for private parties. Additionally, Thursday night guests packed the expanded “lounge” area, complete with high-top chairs tucked up to the window. I came in the evening, but I imagine it’s the go-to spot for sunny-day lunch meetings, or snagging a drink solo.
Renovation during the winter months only allowed guests to get their fix via take-out. Where patrons now come to enjoy authentic Szechuan, Hunan, Mandarin, and Vietnamese cuisine or to simply enjoy a drink at the bar, they can expand their expectations. Chef Leu’s new sushi bar now offers a variety of hand rolls, sashimi, and maki rolls. Our party sampled two types of owner Mei Wang and Kevin Ke’s new Japanese creations. The specialty roll, the Torch, was composed of spicy tuna and cucumber and topped with “torched” salmon, yellowtail, roe, and finished with a drizzle of spicy mayo. Our second roll was a fun spin on the traditional California roll, which omitted nori and instead wrapped the bite with shaved cucumber. For those with a strict craving for sushi, Chef Leus’ new bar seating lets guests watch the sushi chefs first hand. The bar is cozy so it’s perfect for a group of about four or five. This was not the case for my dinner, and after the sushi menu was ticked, we looked to the next course.
A first-timer to the established restaurant, I was instructed by many to trust Mei’s recommendations and I took the advice. “The Basil Shrimp is very popular,” were some of her first words. “It’s actually so popular that we made it a regular menu item. It used to just be a special, available just once in a while,” Mei continued. It was a done deal. Fresh asparagus, pepper, carrot, and onion complemented the tender shrimp. Still, the sautéed basil impressed the meaning and source of the favorite dish’s name. Chef Leu’s invariably had it down to the last touches. Delicate details like shaved beet flowers and leaf-shaped wasabi grace each plate.
Broaden your samplings of Chef Leu’s new menu. The restaurant and bar is located at 3716 Shelburne Road in Shelburne and is now open Tuesday-Thursday, 11 am-9:30 pm; Friday-Saturday, 11 am-10:30 pm; and Sunday, 12-9:30 pm. Closed Monday. For more information or take-out, visit www.chefleu.com or call (802) 985-5258.