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Dish Flash: A Soupçon of Voltaire

The old Bar Louie in River North has a new tenant with a French accent: Bistro Voltaire. We made the acquaintance of Claudine Hubert, the chef, and got enough details to whet our appetites.

The French brasserie Bistro Voltaire (226 W. Chicago Ave.; no phone yet) is scheduled to open in early June near the Chicago Avenue brown line stop. The 40-seat space has wood paneling, a black-and-white tile floor, red leather banquettes, and a tin ceiling, evoking the look of Harry’s New York Bar in Paris. The walls show images of writers from France and Chicago. The chef, Claudine Hubert, previewed some menu items for us. “It will be classic,” she says. “Very old, traditional recipes.”

• Whole Camembert cheese baked in its box with calvados.
• Filet de boeuf en croûte, with duxelles foie gras and Cognac sauce.
• Country pâté with green peppercorns.
• Mussels in several styles, including provençal, Roquefort, saffron, and marinière.
• Poulet supreme de volaille with zucchini and lemon confit.
• Confit de canard. “It will be coming with fresh potatoes cooked in the grease of the canard. With mesclun salad,” Hubert says.
• Crème brûlée with bergamot.

And one thing you won’t see on the menu:

• Steak frites. “Steak frites is the fast-food French food dish. We do not want to do fast-food French,” Hubert says.

Bistro Voltaire is scheduled to open June 3rd at 6:30 with a meet-and-greet event featuring Chicago authors such as Wendy McClure (The Wilder Life) and Cris Mazza (How to Leave a Country). It will have a cash bar and free appetizers.


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