Complete with Lipstick

When I wandered up to Voila!’s doors this morning, 10 minutes before 11:30 am, I realized instantly that they would not be opening today.  I think it was the darkness inside that gave me the first clue, followed by the sign on the door that read “Lunch – Tuesday to Saturday”.  Well thank goodness for being in Madison Valley then, where good restaurants beckon at every turn.  Martina rolled up & I threw out some options – Luc, Harvest Vine, La Cote Creperie, Cafe Flora – all within 2 secs of where we were standing.  Martina really wanted to try Cafe Flora & after my first visit there I was certainly up for a re-run.  The line, however, had other ideas & neither of us could wait it out for 30 minutes longer to get some grub.  Onto Luc then.  Now, last time I went to Luc I had a marvelous time so I was excited for Martina to get a taste.  Voila!   There were plenty of tables when we walked in, but they soon filled up afterwards; maybe because everyone else who assumed Voila! would be open decided to pop over to Luc too.

We found ourselves sitting in a lovely booth in the back with it’s own window, the sun streaming joyously in.  It made us think that Spring had finally made it as far as the Northwest corner of this great land.  Wheeeeeee!

Two seconds after we sat down Martina shrieked like a schoolgirl on seeing the little bags of Illy sugar on the table.  Our server came over & Martina exclaimed, clapping loudly, ”You have Illy coffee!  Oh thank god!”  In honor of this glorious discovery & Martina’s utter joy, here’s her cup, complete with lipstick.  I had hot chocolate, remembering from my last visit that it was made with whole milk (hurrah!) and had hazelnutty undertones.  Yum.

 Luc’s menu is not big on the breakfast-type foods, but it still took us a while to get ourselves organized.  Since yesterday was National Eggs Benedict Day (you’ve got to be kidding me?!…no, really, it was) I went with Luc’s version: poached eggs, ciabatta, roast pork, harissa-lemon hollandaise, potato rissole.  Now, if you know that hollandaise is only bright yellow when it’s out of a packet – don’t panic.  Luc’s is this color because it is made with harissa – a Tunisian hot chili sauce.  It isn’t hot, but it sure is a wild color.

The ciabatta was a little over-toasted, making it a touch crunchy on the bottom & a touch dark around the edges.  The eggs were perfectly poached & the potatoes were fantastic, once again.  So clearly not Safeway spuds.  I wouldn’t have been sad if there’d been a bit more greenery on the plate, but it was delicious all the same.

Martina opted for the Croque Monsieur & a side of fresh fruit.  I admit, when it arrived, the fresh fruit seemed like a remarkably good idea.

There are some places that just know how to make food look fabulous.  Luc is one of them.  Not only did I want to eat her fruit when it showed up, I wanted to eat her Croque too.

The Croque showed up with loads of greenery.  I experienced a mild attack of food envy.

After we were done, we decided we were not, in fact, done.  We perused the dessert selection but decided instead to head off across the street to see what The Essential Baking Company was all about.  After what seemed like a lifetime’s wait for our check to come and get processed, we toddled off into the spring sunshine.  Looks can be oh so deceiving.  It might have been super sunny but it was about 40 degrees out there.  Brrr.  Martina wondered why everyone seemed so curious about her white pants.  I gently explained the whole white-after-Labor-Day thing.  Ah the joys of living in a strange, foreign land.  All those unwritten rules that you just have to stumble upon.  I think everyone was just jealous.  Martina looks fabulous in those particular {tight} white pants.

The Essential Baking Company was a complete surprise.  It was way bigger than it looked from the outside & was a complete zoo inside.  People everywhere – inside, outside, a gazillion apron-clad peeps zooming around in back, laptops whirring, tablefuls of excitably chattering folk - the whole place was positively buzzing.  We were a bit confused about how it all worked but eventually figured out that it is a line-up, order, pay-up & then sit down kind of cafe.  The menu boards made us wonder if we had missed a trick by not having our entire brunch there.

 The hot chocolate was good, but I am so relieved I just had a small one.  Their large cups are the size of soup tureens.

Martina nibbled on a Thumbprint Cookie, essentially nutty shortbread with a dollop of chocolate in the well in the middle.  It was a good cookie.

I, of course, had to have the grandest looking thing in the whole display case.  It’s just what I do.

It was an Orange Chocolate Mousse on Pecan Shortbread or something like that.  It was nice.  It didn’t blow my skirt up or make me weep with joy.  The chocolate was not the dense, rich flavor that my eyes thought it would be & the texture of the mousse was not what I hoped for either.  There was not one hint of orange.  I still enjoyed eating it.  I’ve been a bit spoiled lately by the offerings from Honore & Belle Pastry.

Martina & I followed every single plate of food through the cafe with our eyes as the servers brought them out.  Food envy good & proper.  The salads and sandwichs looked delicious.  We decided we should probably leave, otherwise we’d be onto our third course of the day.  We also decided that we needed to come back here for lunch sometime.  Their bread & baked goods look amazing.  Martina snagged a loaf of rustic multi-grain bread, ready for the hubs arrival from England in 10 days.  Not that Martina is excited at all about that.  I am not sure that we talked about much else for the whole 2 hours.  They’ve been separated by 5000 miles of water for 11 months.  It’s time.  And it’s lovely to hear someone so excited about their other half’s arrival & the new life that they are about to embark on together.  Me, I’m just happy to eat, photograph, write & sleep with my cats.

Today turned into a completely different brunch than we had planned, but, Voila!  It turned out to be a great thing.  And the next time Martina and I brunch, her hubs will be with us.  Yay!

Luc on Urbanspoon Essential Bakery Cafe on Urbanspoon Essential Bakery Cafe on Urbanspoon

*SANE™, inSANE, SANEity – terms used in Jonathan Bailor’s books, The Smarter Science of Slim (out of print) and The Calorie Myth.

What does SANE mean? Click here.Want more scrumptious recipes? Click here to check out my SANE Cookbooks!

520 Rush » Foodie Footnotes - [...] Voila!  A cute little French Bistrot opposite Luc - that very nice French American eatery where I’ve enjoyed a couple of lovely Sunday [...]

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