Café Au Lait
3290 N. Ridge Rd #105, Ellicott City, MD, 21043,
Café Au Lait does not have a tofu banh mi. We discovered this after driving all the way to Ellicott City in a car with no air conditioning to get to the café, which is known for its many different types of banh mi. You can get the classic (pate, pork roll, and ham), grilled pork, lemongrass chicken, lemongrass beef, char-siu pork (roast pork), grilled meatball, or vegetarian (all banh mi are $5.95). Disappointed, we ordered the char-siu and the vegetarian, which we were told was made with eggplant. While we waited we also ordered an iced coffee and a strawberry-banana smoothie ($3.95). When we said we were driving back to the city in an air-conditionless car, Eric, the guy behind the counter, said, “your smoothie isn’t going to make it.” He also made a suggestion: “I think you should get the Thai iced tea," which was recently added to the menu ($3.95). He gave me the tea and we came up with a plan. He would make the smoothie after everything else was done and put it in a plastic bag with ice. And, after taking the first sip of the Thai iced tea, a beautiful, layered concoction of icy, smoky tea, all was right with the world. Pleased that we followed his advice, we got back to the office with the smoothie still perfectly chilly and tucked in to our sandwiches. The char-siu banh mi had pleasantly roasted pork. The cilantro, cucumber and carrot were fresh and bright with lots of pickled daikon. And we were really happy with the slices of fresh jalepeno that gave the whole thing a nice punch. All of this was stuffed into a crunchy on the outside, soft on the inside french baguette. Ditto for the vegetarian one—except that it had eggplant, which was deep-fried and super flavorful. Everything seemed to exceed our expectations here, largely due to the exceptional help given to us by Eric, from behind the counter.