La Voile - The Savior of Newbury St.
Had an absolutely wonderful meal at La Voile last night! This is probably the most interesting/best restaurant to come to the neighborhood well...since I've been here. What I really like about it is I now have a fall back Newbury St. restaurant that I an recommend without hesitation when someone asks me where to eat in the neighborhood. No more hemming and hawing about well, this place is ok if you don't mind such and such.
I think the space is quite nice; simple, with clean lines, and some interesting walls. There is a small bar on the left as you enter that looked friendly enough and that had, miracle of all miracles, NO TV! I'm struggling to think of another Boston bar with no TV. It's very nice to think that there will be at least one bar in the neighborhood not forcing the Sox or Pats down my throat when I'm not in the mood.
We were greeted warmly by what I took to be the floor manager, maybe the owner, and seated in a small two top against the wall.
First came a lovely amuse bouche of salami and something savory in a filo-dough-ish pastry. Sorry, but I didn't get a chance to ask what it was.
The all-french wine list is interesting, with bottles ranging from 26 to several hundreds. There is handy regional map on the inside flap that shows you exactly where each wine comes from, a nice touch. The sommelier recommended a $36 red that escapes me fto pair with our entrees (a refreshing non-upsale), but in the end we opted for a glass of white for our first course and a glass of red for our second course. I had a nice pinot blanc (9) and a sancerre rouge (10). Both were quite good.
For the first course, we opted for three cuts from the cheese plate ($15) and the bone marrow. I'm happy that La Voile is offering the plateau du fromage before entrees, when most restaurants in Boston try to make me have my cheese for dessert. I never quite got that. Am I the only one that grew up eating cheese BEFORE dinner? Anyway, all three cuts were wonderful and made me wish we'd gotten the 5 cut. I can't quite remember the names, but one was a lovely hard, salty cheese that seemed to be of the peccorrino family. The other was a very soft, almost runny cheese that had an awesome funky rural taste and was served in a little crockery dish; my dc was 100 percent positive that we'd had the same thing from Formaggio....aha, and I just found it! Saint Marcellin! Thanks formaggio online store! (Maybe I'll go pick some up today.) The third had a moldy blue exterior, but was not nearly as strong as I expected...medium softness, pure white on the inside. Just lovely.
The bone marrow ($8) was as flavorful as you'd expect, paired with some nice crusty oven toasted baguette.
For mains, given the chill in the air, we both opted for the stew family. My wife had the braised sweetbreads in morel sauce ($24) which was OUT of this WORLD good. I'm not even a sweetbreads fan but it was just so rich and flavorful. I could have sopped up the entire dish with enough bread.
I opted for the veal blanquette, served with basmati rice ($18). This is one of those dishes I've always wanted to try and have never gotten around to having, but this version will probably spoil me. Not nearly as heavy as I feared, just a nice creamy/meaty richness, with fall apart tender pieces of super moist veal and lovely carrots and mushrooms. Perfect for the first really cold night of the year. Actually, especially given the basmati rice accompaniment, it reminded me a bit of a western-seasoned Indian korma, with veal instead of lamb. Between the sweetbreads and the blanquette, we used up ALL of our bread and rice. Sauces that delicious just can't be wasted.
Total for two appetizers, two entrees, and four glasses of wine came to a very respectable $115.
The service was just about the only thing to give us some pause, but even so it was in more of an amused way than a frustrated way. The waiters are through and through french, and the bus boys barely speak any english whatsoever. Our waiter was very friendly, but his grasp of the waiter idiom was a bit, er, informal...instead of "How is everything?" we got "is all the food good!?!?! yes?!" hehehe. It was busy, and they could probably use one more server on a night like last night. Once or twice our our server would vanish for lengthy periods, and it took a while for us to put in our initial order in, but, honestly, it was nothing too troubling, and we had a lovely time. the sommelier chatted up every table, and even sat down for a bit with the gentlemen next to us (on their invitiation).
On the way out, we told the manager how happy we were to have them in the neighborhood, and that we would be back soon and often! Custom seemed to be strong for their secon friday night, and should only improve with word of mouth. I did note that they were turning away walk-ins by 8:15.
La Voile: We'd just like to say that Cannes' loss is Boston's gain. We are regular holiday makers to the Cannes area and spent many a wonderful night at La Voile au Vent. We got to know Stephane, Stephanie and of course Jean Charles and we miss them very much whenever we return to Cannes. Good luck to you all at La Voile, you deserve to do very well indeed and we're delighted to read these wonderful comments. Who knows we may one day pay a visit to Boston and drop in to say hello... and even stay for the evening! Lots of love, Mary, John and Sarah xxx
Great review. My girlfriend and I went on Saturday, after having stopped by Friday afternoon and meeting the owner and trying to get a table for Friday night, to no avail.
First they dropped the amuse, and I think those puff pastries were just pate a choux with some herbs in it dropped into a fryer. Delicious. There was also the salami (which was awesome), and an onion tartlet that was quite good as well.
My girlfriend had the country style pate, which was amazing, and a huge portion. I had the foie gras terrine which was out of this world (but one of the most expensive items at $22).
For an entree she had the steak frites (opting for the sauce poirve), which she said may be the best she's ever had in a restaurant. I had the veal blanquette, like the OP, and I found it to be one of the best versions of the dish I have ever had (it's one of the dishes I judge a brasserie by). I would have liked a little more rice with mine, but that's a minor complaint. We drank a bottle of Bandol Rose from Chateau de Pibarnon 2006, I think it was $57. And we had no room for dessert, but our neighbors' desserts looked quite tasty.
All in all, this place is up there with any French brasserie I've eaten in.
Like the OP said, the service may be a touch slow at times. I think that's just the nature of this type of restaurant with a small staff. And there's an adjustment period: they brought their entire operation from Cannes to Boston including the staff just a few weeks ago. I'm not sure they'll ever have snappy, speedy service, but I hope the diners there can look past that at the food and wine.
I no longer live in Boston, but everytime I return I will eat at La Voile.
We tried it on Sunday and were setting a high bar for them because on Saturday night we had been to Al Forno in Providence and had a perfect meal of all our favorite items.
We dined early and were greeted warmly, seated and introduced to our waiter Jean Charles. (at least I think that was how he was introduced.) It was clear that everyone on staff was anxious to please every guest in the room. Our waiter was training a new hire and was assisted by two support staff so we had four folks plus the owners (I assume) taking care of us.
We opened with the scallop salad and country paté (which was also served with a side salad of baby spinach and tomatoes.) We were both pleased.
The paté came in its own little crock and was delicious. I can see myself dropping into to the bar for paté and a glass of wine when I just want an hour out of the house.
My husband had the halibut with a glass of sauvignon blanc. I had the lamb shank and a glass of syrah. Again, we were both please and would come back for either dish. In fact, we will return soon for the Dover Soul but since it is on the high end of the price list, we decided to test the chef on some less expensive items.
I had them wrap about half of the lamb and beans so that I would have room for dessert. We opted for three cuts of cheese. The cart was presented, and we were aided in our selection by our waiter. He was struggling with English but was certainly willing and able to please. He added a portion of crispy toast squares to the wooden board with the cheese. A few minutes later, a runner brought us another side salad and some more bread “to go with the cheese.”
The cheese selection is basic rather than adventurous, but each was ripe, and at the correct temperature.
We recommend it to neighbors on the way home. They tried it later in the evening and they thanked us this morning. They reported that they loved the endive salad, lamb shank, steak frites and raved about the desserts.
The owners were interested in meeting neighbors and said he understood that we need a “neighborhood restaurant” because he has had to go to the South End to eat since he has been here. Let’s hope they can maintain the enthusiasm and the welcome for neighbors.
Could it be that we finally have a place to have a nice meal on Newbury Street?
LOL perhaps it was a Freudian slip- since so many Newbury Street food factories lack any sign of humanity or soul! Voile does seem to be starting out with a big helping of that!
We haven't had Dover Sole since Maison Robert closed and when well prepared, it makes my husband very happy. Voile says theirs is 20 oz. so we may have to share one.
"For the first course, we opted for three cuts from the cheese plate ($15) and the bone marrow. I'm happy that La Voile is offering the plateau du fromage before entrees, when most restaurants in Boston try to make me have my cheese for dessert. I never quite got that. Am I the only one that grew up eating cheese BEFORE dinner?"
I also like my cheese as an appetizer but when I lived in France I was told that the French believe that cheese should be the last course of your meal. They feel that the enzymes in cheese "close your stomach" so that you feel full ("Why French women don't get fat"). Some places in Paris refused to serve me cheese before my main course.
Thanks for the detailed report! Before reading this, just this morning I met a woman from near Cannes who described her experience there last week. She brought it up as a wonderful meal that she'd had during her visit here and noted that it was authentically French and delicious. The owners and staff all came over together from Cannes, and while they had some kinks in service to work out, she loved the place and had heard about it's opening while in France. Looking forward to checking it out.