On the edge of Paseo de San Antonio and First Street in San Jose, a posh Vietnamese and French bistro offers a reprieve from the downtown hustle and bustle. The sleek interior of Élyse says welcome to Paris more than Saigon, but let’s not worry about pecking orders when the important thing is the environment greets all guests on equal terms.

On the wall a hand-built wooden model of the Eiffel Tower lights up like Christmas, while wheat, loaves of French bread and wine bottles hang in wired baskets. The bar carries an arsenal of spirits that nearly reach the ceiling, and bulbs high above are dim yet warm, accenting the ashen color scheme. The minimalist aesthetic allows the room to breathe in a way that is immediately relaxing. While Élyse is a white tablecloth establishment, the restaurant seems to balance parties that range from romantic face-to-face evenings to family affairs, banquets and even a ladies’ night out.

Lunch options include Vietnamese bento boxes with spring rolls, garlic noodles and a choice of salmon, short ribs or stir-fried tofu and vegetables. Instead of a midday visit, I decided to treat myself to a cocktail and three-course dinner during happy hour, when specialty drinks are half off. Consider the Razzle Dazzle ($6 during happy time), which is made with Botanist Islay Dry Gin and a pleasant rosemary garnish that gives the citrus drink an irresistible scent.

From there I began with the piquant Kobe carpaccio ($14). Thin slices of American Wagyu beef were covered with lemon and olive oil and topped with tomatoes, onions, shallots, capers, arugula, honey sriracha and Parmesan. The grand sum of flavors created a taste bud TKO.

The main entrée of coq au vin ($22), a classic French stew, featured chicken slowly braised in red wine. It also had a hint of brandy to yield a supremely rich mushroom sauce. Élyse serves  confit chicken with a side of melt-in-your-mouth garlic mashed potatoes, as well as a small serving of crunchy seasoned carrots and broccoli. Each tangy bite sent a chill of delight down my spine when coupled with one or more of the sides.

I capped my meal with their Belgian-style tiramisu ($8). The delicate custard dessert—made of ladyfingers dipped in coffee, layered with a whipped mixture of eggs, sugar and mascarpone cheese, flavored with cocoa—paired as well as one could hope with ripe raspberries completing the treat.

San Jose has lacked French cuisine options for some time, which is yet another reason why Élyse, like its guests, should feel welcome to the local culinary scene.

151 S Second St, San Jose.