David Dodd 1:48 a.m., May 18
Voyou: Great little wine bar but…
Looking for best bang for Le Buck at Hillcrest's French wine bar
I’m not the first to burst into this cubby-hole of cool. Ian Pike gave a connoisseur’s four-course breakdown last year that says it all.
That said, I came in here, spent a short time, and left wanting to love it more than…well here’s what happened.
It was in happy hour (5:00 – 7:00 p.m. daily).
I was at this small white-walled bar “Voyou” (it means “ruffian” in French) in a li’l ol’ black and white house at the corner of 5th and Pennsylvania (3696 5th Avenue, Hillcrest, 619-297-9720).
But nothing rough inside: you have a sleek white U-bar, black and white tables, red cushions for the wall bench, plus Marilyn art (two eyes, two nostrils and lips, anyway), and a way-cool crowd filling the bar.
The appetizers go from $8 to $12. Like an ahi tuna tartar plate is $12. So is the cheese plate. The goat cheese tart is $8, and so is the Caprese. Most glasses of wine are $8 too.
Basic happy hour idea is $2 off apps and wines.
So I order the first white wine on the menu, “Orval Chardonnay,” from France. There goes $6. Then I ask for a lobster bisque (“real lobster, sherry wine, shallots, touch of cream,” also $6 HH). And then can’t help going for the goat cheese tart (“bucheron goat cheese, puff pastry, toasted almonds”), $6 HH too.
Here’s the rub: The bisque is certainly tasty, pink, and beautiful in its white bowl and all, with like baked bread crusts to dunk in it.
Except I can’t help comparing it to Spike Africa’s clam chowder. That was full of stuff, lumpy, interesting, and bottom line for me, twice as filling. And hey, at $3, half the cost.
Likewise the goat cheese tart...
...It’s this long pastry thing not exactly overflowing with cheese, and a tart dark sauce squizzed over it. It just feels kinda empty. What you’re eating is mainly the pastry. Hate to bring up Spike’s again, but for the same price, $6 HH, their oyster roast, four fully laden scallop shells with really tasty oysters and a pile of other stuff, gives you so much more.
Ian found really good dishes here, and I’m probably way out of my league in the sophistication stakes, but this little trip to France has just cost me $20 and I’m still hungry. Happy hour wise, I’m hearing the drums of Africa.