Perhaps there is no other restaurant in the Valley that gets the importance of delivering a uniquely French dining experience like Voilà! French Bistro. Executive Chef Jean-Christophe Gros and his wife Ségolène Gros own the adorable bistro that will have you believing that you’ve left Scottsdale and are now dining in France.
Setting the mood at Voila! is the dim lighting, crisp white linens and ambient French music in the restaurant. Punctuations of France dot the restaurant from the artwork and clock, to the Eiffel Tower on the bar top and miniature French flags. Now that the weather is cooling, dining on the quiet patio is ideal.
To get our meal off to a wonderful start, our server brought a loaf of traditional French bread with a garlic aioli dip which was out of this world! Ségolène also brought over a bread dip called anchoïade, a classic Provencal spread created with anchovies, olive oil, garlic and just a dash of vinegar. It too, was a pleasant surprise and a tasty departure from the “bread and butter” routine found at most restaurants.
My husband and I chose two very different appetizers – French soup and a lovely artichoke salad. The traditional French soup was head and shoulders above other similar soups I have tried in recent years. This version boasted a hearty broth with onion and a slice of thick bread topped with cheese and then baked. We thought this was a fabulous soup because it was not heavy with salt, rather, the flavors of the broth, bread, cheese and seasonings could stand together as a statement.
The artichoke salad was a particularly delicious surprise as it featured a unique variety of fresh ingredients and flavors. The healthy and colorful salad included generously sized artichoke hearts, fresh greens, slightly tangy mini Mediterranean olives and purple skinned onions. Two dollops each of olive tapenade and tomato caviar served as a surprisingly tasty asset to the salad.
Jean-Christophe and Ségolène Gros have owned the adorable French Bistro since 2015. With Jean Christopher at the helm of the kitchen orchestrations, the menu flourishes with the flavors of France, and the couple both hail from the southern part of the country. Ségolène in particular is quick to extol the virtues of French cooking and tell stories from her native land. It is this personal touch and attention to detail that make Voila! an absolute delight. The menu does tend to evolve a few times during the year, according to season, which gives the chef the flexibility to showcase a wide variety of flavors, spices and ingredients in his recipes. Chef Jean Christophe was classically trained in France under worked under the tutelage of Michelin Star chefs.
Our highly anticipated main entrees were the next things to the table. I chose the traditional poulet basquaise – an incredibly tender bone-in chicken prepared with peppers, tomatoes, garlic, onions and white wine with a flavorful Espelette pepper. The combination of vegetables and spices created a small pool of broth which served to highlight every flavor in the entrée. The chicken was superbly tender and easily pulled off the bone with almost no effort. The beautiful orange/red color of the Espelette pepper was as beautiful as it was tasty and although it is pepper, I considered it more of a pleasant spice as it was not hot or spicy. Small diced potatoes joined into the light broth to add even more substance to the dish. Of particular note, these potatoes retained their firmness, which is a remarkable feat in a dish that includes moist vegetables and a light broth.
The second entrée was a beautifully orchestrated filet de bar en piperade – a sea bass with tomatoes, peppers, garlic and pepper. The entrée was prepared with approachable ingredients that allowed the tenderness and flavor of the sea bass to shine. There was also an oh-so-thin layer of skin left of the fish and it created a tasty, micro-thin crispy layer which added another wonderful element to the fish. The flavor balance between the mild fish, garlic and pepper was literally the perfect marriage.
We simply couldn’t resist the opportunity to try a few desserts. I am a huge fan of crème brûlée and the Voila! version did not disappoint. This delicious custard-style dessert was both lightly creamy and decadent without being heavy or greasy. The brûlée was appropriately “fired” to achieve the caramelized crust and topped with fresh berries. The use of Madagascar vanilla in the recipe gave this a stellar flavor profile.
My husband chose a dessert that neither of us have seen on any Valley menu. The peppermint pears were a tasty way to close out our meal. The sliced pears had been pre-marinated in a peppermint liquor, imparting a vibrant green color into the fruit. The pears were then laid into dark sweet chocolate. The dessert was topped with rolled chocolate a la pirouline style! Again, we found this dessert to be as beautiful as it was delicious. In fact, this is the dessert that should be available during the holiday season. It’s perfection. C’est parfait!
Voila! French Bistro is located at 10135 E. Via Linda, Scottsdale. Visit www.voilafrenchbistro.com or call (480) 614-5600 for additional information.