Boston Brings It, Unexpectedly.
This past weekend, while enjoying a spectacular weekend in my hometown, I believe I witnessed the unexpected: a Boston restaurant that easily rivaled and in fact surpassed the vast majority of French restaurants in New York.
Everyone knows that the restaurant scene in New York is known its quality, consistency, and diversity. French restaurants in particular proliferate from uptown to downtown to the outer boroughs, ranging from cheap neighborhood bistros to pinnacles of french gastronomy. Boston doesn’t normally carry the same reputation, known for good if not a bit hokey restaurants.
La Voile, a charming transplant straight from Cannes on Newbury Street, trumps every French restaurant I’ve been to in New York, food-wise, other than Jean-George’s JoJo. The owners of La Voile uprooted their Cannes restaurant and moved it to, surprisingly, the Back Bay in Boston. They have brought in French waiters, moved their French cooks, and brought along all the trappings of an authentically French restaurant (including the slow service…). I couldn’t stop raving about how they should have chosen New York.
The food was truly extraordinary; it tasted as though it had been magically whisked over from France in the blink of an eye. Lots of butter, rich flavors, impeccable execution, and classic preparation sum it up pretty well. I had the kobe beef cheeks prepared in a beef bourguignon stew fashion – they were hearty, succulent and buttery, absolutely melting in my mouth. My brother, arguably the most adventurous diner in the group, ordered the whole dover sole, prepared expertly table-side in butter, oil, and lemon – clean, fresh and classic. My mother opted for the steak frites, which showed up on a plate the size of a small child. Enough to feed a small army, the hearty steak and salty crunchy frites were immensely satisfying. My father, known for his love of chicken, went straight for the chicken l’ami Louis, a free-range roasted chicken that was juicy and plump.
The service was very french, slow, leisurely, moving to the beat of its own drum. The dinner service was ill-timed with the appetizers coming out immediately and the entrees coming out almost 40min later. I can’t imagine what could have been taking so long. Maybe they went to go chase around the chickens in suburban Boston for the roast. However, the staff was very charming and accommodating, mostly making up for the kitchen’s incompetencies.
The scene was sophisticated yet comfortable with nautical accents and images, a tongue-in-cheek cast iron frog statue, and current French music twittering in the background. It was loud, but in a congenial large French family all gathered together sort of way.
La Voile is unlike anything I’ve experienced in New York – actually transporting me to the South of France with its lilting music, boistrous atmosphere, and absolutely delightful cuisine. So many restaurants in the Big Apple play faux French, grabbing aspects of the culture and food. However, until now, I didn’t realize how silly these attempts were in the context of true French cuisine.
I implore you, La Voile, consider a relocation to New York!