Va De Vi Update [Walnut Creek]
Most recent post I could find was from 2011, so here's my update:
Once upon a time Va Da Vi was a go to place for me and clearly one of the best options in the WC/Lafayette area. Based on my visit Wednesday evening it's clear that the food has slipped... far. After some very positive press a number of years ago I remember the staff getting self-important and that's what kept me away for a few years. At least I can say that the hostess and waitress were both friendly and as attentive as possible considering her section was split indoors and out, so at least that was no longer a problem on my visit.
The food was lack luster, with a clear theme of under seasoning. There was not one dish I would order again. We had:
Beet salad - Needed salt and some acid.
Tempura fried stuffed squash blossoms - Filling was good as was the spicy sauce over the top, but the coating was way too thick and not very tempura like and ended up undercooked and chewy.
Ceviche aquachile - Needed salt and had nearly zero heat. Isn't heat requisite in this dish? So bland...
Grilled prawns with bacon grits - Best dish of the evening. Prawns were super simple but cooked correctly and seasoned. Grits were just ok.
Lechon - The pork belly came on too thick/big pieces of relatively chewy/gooey rice cakes. The sauce was like a thick sweet and sour. The dish was kind of a gloppy mess once you started eating it. The pork belly itself was tasty (is it ever not?) when you ditched the rest of the mess.
The glass wine list is still long with interesting choices from around the globe. The wine was the best part of the meal by far.
It will take some very positive press for me to bother returning in the future. I'm so sad to see one of my old favorites fall so far.
This was in my notes dated Feb 2014:
"February 2013: Eater SF reports that Andy Phillips is the new ExecChef at Va de Vi/Walnut Creek, which we reviewed but didn't care for, in 2010. Phillips is a California Culinary Academy grad who opened Gravity Bistro & Wine Bar/Palo Alto and was the former executive sous chef at Esin/Danville.
Pullido was the chef at VdV from 2009 to 2011 (worked at VdV beginning 2006). Shane McAnelly took over, then left for Chalkboard (Cyrus' replacement) in Sonoma Cty. Phillips' cooking got a review March 2013 from Bauer, who dropped it from 3-stars to 2, removing it from the Top 100 List he does annually for the SF Chronicle."
If you liked McAnelly's cooking, you could try Chalkboard in Healdsburg, where he is now. We didn't care for it very much, inconsistent food, condescending service. Spoon Bar in the H2 Hotel down the street was infinitely superior.
Note on the wine, twice when I've gone they haven't stored the bottles properly for the wines by the glass and the reds esp. were overheated and oxidized.