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La Bonne Table

3696 Fifth Avenue, Hillcrest

Hillcrest’s Voyou Wine Bar is no more. Following a quickie remodel, the restaurant has re-opened as La Bonne Table. Where Voyou aimed at a modern look, the new place looks to evince a kind of French country bistro effect, with darker cozier effects. Hardwood tables and chairs replace the white sofas, and candlelight replaces reflected sunlight. The place is still cute by any measure, but it’s perhaps more pleasant now, though somewhat less hip and whimsical.

Escargot

Escargot

The charm ends there, however, as the menu delivers little more than overpriced mediocrity. The old Voyou’s menu of shareable plates was only average, but it was at least wine-friendly and credible. In recreating the restau as La Bonne Table with the intent of doing French bistro food, the mark has been missed entirely. Dishes that should be affordable and wholesome arrive at table with little to say for themselves.

A $25 dish of steak and fries, perhaps the most iconic of all bistro meals, comprises an inferior cut of steak and a heaping pile of poor-quality, pre-frozen fries. The promising “magret de canard,” roasted duck breast for $20, looks forlorn. Thin slices of duck fan across the plate, with an unassuming green peppercorn sauce spooned across the top. The single side dish, a potato gratiné that tastes strongly of nutmeg, is merely adequate. At no point does the dish meet its own asking price.

The escargots manage to taste of pond water, despite the profligate use of butter and chopped herbs. At $8, each of the six snails costs $1.25, and it’s not exaggerating to say that the money would be better spent on a Powerbar from a local 7-11.

Dinner for two, with a few drinks in the mix, easily stretches to $100-plus at La Bonne Table, and it’s simply not worth it. The journey to Au Revoir Bistro is less than five-hundred meters from La Bonne Table. Make it.

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Comments

Visduh March 21, 2014 @ 8:27 p.m.

I'd wonder if there is any connection between this operation and a Belgian/French restaurant that operated in a strip center in Encinitas just east of I-5 from the early 80's until about five years ago. It was called La Bonne Bouffe, and had some credible French cuisine at reasonable prices in a comfortable operation that never seemed pretentious. In fact from about 1983 until 2005, we would see the same waiter. He had an accent, but didn't lay it on thick, and was actually friendly. One of the dishes I recall was duck in green peppercorn sauce, quite spicy, but always good. They also had veal dishes and some seafood. I really miss the place. One time it was there; the next time I wanted to eat there it was gone without a trace! Oh, that spot in the strip center had been a Mexican eatery, and they never got around to removing the tiles--they were fine. Last time I went by there, it was back to selling tacos.

Is there more than coincidence that the name of this new spot is so similar?

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Ian Pike March 23, 2014 @ 11:01 p.m.

Hmmm, I know nothing of La Bonne Bouffe...but I'll dig around a little bit with my North Co friends and see if anybody has a connection to the place. Long shot, but I'll give it a go.

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dwbat March 23, 2014 @ 12:58 p.m.

Escargot is revolting enough, but "pond water" escargot makes it even worse. And the slices of duck are uninviting too. Gag me with a spoon!

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Ian Pike March 23, 2014 @ 11:02 p.m.

The "lollipops" at Voyou were a better presentation of snails, for sure.

Food here just wasn't any good. Really a bummer because it could be.

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Ponzi March 24, 2014 @ 7:04 a.m.

La Bonne Table is the reincarnation of Voyou Wine Bar, with the same owner/chef, Renaud Tristan. La Bonne Bouffe was operated by Philippe Duhamel and Guy Maussang. Philippe now works as a server at Vincent's in Escondido.

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Ian Pike March 24, 2014 @ 8:53 p.m.

There ya go....I knew the North County peeps would come through!

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adrungeon March 26, 2014 @ 6:53 a.m.

The atmosphere is charming indeed; I enjoyed Voyou's greater selection of drinks, but La Bonne Table's atmosphere hits a high note in recreating Parisian charm.

I also tasted the magret de canard and could not disagree more with the SDReader review on this.

Duck is one of the harder meats to get right, and La Bonne Table's interpretation is superlative.The meat was cooked to tenderness. The peppercorn sauce had just the right aroma to balance the duck flavor. Rather than being "unassuming" it is balanced. The photo in this article does no justice to the dish.

In many other restaurants, I tend to avoid duck meat, as it tends to be a tough, rubbery, cinnamon-infused over-spiced affair that affronts the palate. La Bonne Table is an oasis, as far as magret de canard is concerned.

We also had a generous portion of moules. The sauce was a delight. I will make sure to taste the escargot and steak next time.

Hopefully, this restaurant will stick around. I went to it expecting a charming atmosphere and fine food, and it delivered. If you go expecting typical bistro (aka cheap and fast) food, you may indeed be disappointed.

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SourPina May 12, 2014 @ 4:33 p.m.

I also have a lot of love for Au Revoir. The daily wine deals are good and the lavender fries and mussels are one of my favorite versions of that dish. You don't feel upset when the bill arrives.

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