Photo: courtesy of bistro voltaire

French writing on the walls and a rose on each table greet you at Bistro Voltaire.  

Bistro Voltaire. 226 W Chicago. River North. 312-265-0911. French.

(two stars)


The decor (black, white, red), music (Piaf), and menu (onion soup, snails, crème brulée) are straight from a Paris playbook, but astute cooking and a genuinely cozy vibe in this narrow dining room transcend cliché. The soup, crusty bread, and paper-wrapped frites are reassuringly spot-on. More ambitious dishes also succeed: Expect feather-light puff pastry on the vol-au-vent, perfectly cooked bright green beans with the medallions of roast pork, and tangy braised red cabbage with the seared duck breast. Reasonably priced, mostly French, wines. A Monday prix fixe three-course meal is a real deal ($29).

New restaurant reviews, updated to reflect critics’ recent visits, appear each month in Chicago magazine, in Dine, as well as on our website. Listed restaurants are rated from one to four stars, where one is good, two is very good, three is excellent, and four is superlative. Bistro Voltaire was previously unrated.