Sunday, October 16, 2011
I went, on Wednesday, to a Wine Dinner at Bistro Voltaire. I had never been there before but I feel that even after having gone, I still, in fairness, can not review the restaurant. While it was in the restaurant and the regular staff was working, the cuisine served for the wine dinner, while very French, was not on the menu. I can say that I liked the atmosphere and the service were enough to convince me to actually try the menu. I do have to admit though, that I do really like French food so that is an easy decision. The restaurant is located in the former original Bar Louie space and while the restaurant is the same shape, it is designed, as one might guess, very different. There is a large portrait of Voltaire painted on the wall near the front of the restaurant with a quote in French that translates to, "Appreciation is a wonderful thing: It makes what is excellent in others belong to us as well.", a quote that I think is very appropriate for a restaurant. The tables all had white tablecloths, the floor was tile, the the tin roof was painted white. The background music was french crooner music which was actually kind of nice.
Because I was by myself, I sat at the bar and talked to the restaurant manager and the bar tender, both of whom were very nice and were very good at making sure that I had plenty of wine. My first course was a roasted onion with salsify, oyster mushrooms, and aged sherry salt. The onion was much sweeter than I expected and the mushrooms and salsify provided a nice texture and taste. It was a good start to a good meal.The next course was the soup and it was a wonderful soup. It was a turban squash puree with eggplant crotoutons and a tomato compote. I am not normally a fan of eggplant, I find it kind of slimy and can be bitter but these croutons were amazing. They were lightly crunchy and had the good flavor of eggplant. The tomato compote did a good job bringing the eggplant and the squash together while providing some tartness for contrast.The next course was my favorite course. It combined a my two favorite meats, duck and bacon. With duck and bacon, how can you go wrong? It was a Pannequet of duck confit, lentils de Puy with bacon, and a saba vinaigrette. The pannequet was a rolled crepe filled with duck confit. The lentils surrounding it were cooked with bacon and the vinaigrette looked and tasted very baslamic. The crepe was crispy and tasted light and the duck confit went great with the bacon.
The fish course came next. We were served a red snapper with a vanilla-saffron emulsion, parsley puree potatoes, and baby carrots. While it tasted good, the skin was a little too crispy. The vanilla-saffron emulsion was really good. The two flavors are very distinctive and it didn't cross my mind that they would pair well but they do. The mashed potatoes tasted okay but the fact that they were green was a little odd and the baby carrots (which were actually baby carrots) were a little too crisp.
We started with a vegetable, we went to soup, a fowl (with pork), and then a fish. The only thing we hadn't hit was beef so that's where we went next and it was a very nice piece of beef. We had a grilled ribeye with olive oil poached cabbage, beet polenta (I seem to be running into a lot of beets lately, of course it is fall), and a violette jus. The steak was a little on the thin side but that's relatively standard for a french steak. It had a nice sear on the outside and the inside was nicely pink as was the beet polenta. The cabbage provided a nice tartness to the course.
It was a good dinner and I was actually probably could have walked out without dessert but how can you walk out of a French restaurant without having dessert? Dessert was an apple galette (similar to a tart) with malt ice cream and mint. It was a very nice finish to a very nice meal and as I said at the beginning, this is a place that I would be happy to come back and try their regular menu.