Thursday, September 18, 2008

the best of Belgium ET VOILA (is here!) in our 'hood

A couple of months ago a third or fourth incarnation at the sadly cursed 5120 MacArthur Blvd restaurant site in the Palisades, but I think based on this experience ET VOILA ( should be around for quite some time. Samuel and I truly enjoyed this real Belgian bistro where chef/owner Claudio Pirollo runs the kitchen. It is, as it has always been, a long narrow space, but the large mirrors at the top of the walls make it feel roomier as do the light colors. There are tables for two on the left side past a small bar and a banquette of orange leather running the wall on the right with tables for four; a small semi-private dining area is at the rear.

There were only TWO things that bothered me about ET VOILA and neither is a biggie. The orange Jackson Pollack-like plastic table runners hurt your arms and elbows and really are unnecessary and when we used the one bathroom, which is quite nice, the water in the sink did not work. I asked someone and they said to try it again, and it was fine. It seems that when the kitchen is using all their "water" forces, the
pressure in the bathroom gets a "no flow" situation!

That aside, the food and wine are superb. Samuel was thrilled with his moist and tasty CHICKEN FINGERS & FRITES which were actually two small breast pieces nicely seasoned and battered, rather than several fingers. He ate every single bite of it all, which is rare for him as it was a large portion, then polished off a 1/4 scoop of Vanilla Ice Cream.

I started with the magnificent CROSTILLANTS de BOUDIN NOIR avec Salade de Mache aue Miel. These were six cigar-pastry phyllo creations stuffed with spicy seasoned blood sausage and served on a mache salad with honey vinaigrette! WOW! I drank a superb PINOT BLANC from D. Kienstzler 2005 in Alsace that was so good I had another glass. It is perfect with any food, really.

The bread at the table was warm and crusty and Samuel remarked that he NOW INDEED likes GOOD crust on bread (but not on regular toast from a bag at home!). My entree was also superb, CARBONNADE a la FLAMANDE avec FRITES was a Flemish (beer) beef stew with a homey sauce that was divine and wonderful for dipping the fries into as well! A CHATEAUNEUF du PAPE from BERTHET-RAYNE 2006 was full of plum and spice and fruit and was simple a brilliant choice (by me) for this rich dish.

I was not planning on dessert but when I saw they had MISERABLE a la PISTACHE de SICILIE I HAD to know what it was, and it WAS GREAT! Two small cakes of almond pastry layered with Sicilian Pistachio Mousseline were on a bed of Strawberry Jelly which was really halfway between a jam and a gelee and thin and was the perfect flavor for the cake and I think I may have a new favorite dessert in town!

We went home happy hoping that ET VOILA stays around the 'hood for a long while.