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This Pho Van could use one more makeover

Restaurant of the Week: Silk

Everyone knows the 'Waiter, there's a fly in my soup!' joke ('looks like the breast stroke!'), but at Silk, the remodeled and rechristened Pho Van family restaurant in the Pearl, the waiter announced that there had been a fly on the salad, so he was having it redone - information I didn't really need. On the other hand, I'm glad he noticed.

The whole experience was similarly jarring. The space is now sleeker, but not hugely comfortable; the new bar has a modular, black and white glam appropriate to its neighborhood.

The menu here has always been more far-reaching than at the sister Pho Van restaurants, relying less on a grilled meats/rice noodle/pho rotation and more on gourmet applications of Vietnamese cuisine.

Results are varied. Petit banh mi are baguette slices topped with seven ingredients which manage to have limited flavor; the seared ahi tuna appetizer with wasabi-peanut sauce was simpler and better.

The shredded lotus root salad, sans passenger, tastes like nirvana for a Southeast Asian rabbit.

An entree of skewered grilled salmon, described as cooked 'medium well,' had a distinct emphasis on the 'well,' but it had a lovely warm color from the turmeric 'marinade' and came with a sweet and salty blanket of pineapple sauce and crushed peanuts.

Filet mignon's mellow taste was not improved by being cubed and 'shaken' in 'shaken beef,' though the meat here was gently cooked.

The service was similarly up and down. Thirty minutes before closing time, the waiter delivered our entrees and the check, in an obvious ploy to clear the table. The subsequent order of post-dinner coffee was met with ill-disguised irritation. Perhaps as punishment, our attempts to pay our (amended) bill were ignored.

Maybe that's the new 'urban' service.

- Audrey Van Buskirk

1012 N.W. Glisan St., 503-248-2172, 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. and 5 p.m. to 10 p.m. Monday-Saturday, $9-$21