“Voilà!,” so the French say with joie de vivre: “Here it is!” So it is, almost like magic!”
And so that may be what Ségolène Gros will say to guests, serving this magical food prepared by her husband, Chef Jean-Christophe, at their Voilà French Bistro in Scottsdale Ranch.
The “i” of their Voilà logo is an upright fork, so come ready to enjoy petit déjeuner, lunch, brunch and dinner: appetizers such as moules au beurre d’escargots, mussels with parsley butter and garlic; soupe a l’oignon gratinée, French onion soup; entrées such as two of chef’s signature dishes, féuillete de noix de Saint Jacques, scallops in puff pastry, and foie gras de canard aux pommes, hot duck foie gras with caramelized apples; and desserts including three different, soufflés, with, respectively, raspberry, chocolate and Grand Marnier.
Their corner café immediately suggests unpretentiousness, quiet authenticity, charm: popular French music, a small outdoor patio and welcoming interior centered by a copy of Renoir’s 1881 Impressionist masterpiece, Luncheon of the Boating Party, and a big-smile greeting by Ségolène, “Bonjour.” Stay a while, relax, enjoy.
The couple purchased the existing Voilà in October 2015. The previous owners opened the restaurant three years earlier in the lake community just south of Shea Boulevard.
They had just moved to Scottsdale from France, where both were born, she in the north and he in the small northeast town of Neufchâteau, population approximately 7,300, at the confluence of the Meuse and Mouzon rivers in the Vosges Mountains area, a three-hour drive from Paris.
“I learned to cook watching my mother, so when I was about 15 she arranged a job for me at a local restaurant,” he says, through Ségolène, translating. Life-directing, the job was at the Michelin-starred Relais Châteaux Les Bas Rupts in the ski resort town of Gérardmer.
His mentor there, 30 years ago, was Chef Michel Philippe. “He welcomed me in the kitchens and taught me everything when I was 16 years old. I was three weeks a month in his company and one week at culinary school in town. Away from my family, this family restaurant became like a second home for me.”
He learned well. The chef went on to own three hotel restaurants in the area and became well known throughout eastern France for his cuisine. The couple met in 1998 in one of these hotels in Neufchâteau.
“He was in the kitchen and worked with the wines and I was on the floor serving or hosting in the lobby,” Ségolène says. “We worked together for two years –– nothing –– and then we fell in love.”
So, romantic nuptials in Paris, Provence or Cannes?
Seven years ago, they wed in Las Vegas. “It was so romantic for us,” she recalls.
For sure, you’ll take to their food, with passion.
“Ours are traditional French dishes with a modern elegance but still very flavorful and normal-size portions,” chef says, referring to their generous servings, rather than the gastronomically pleasing but minimalist portions elsewhere. “This is not la nouvelle cuisine but ‘la cuisine traditionelle moderne’ with modern dishes,” he adds.
“I would say that my cuisine has a Provençal tendency, but I also offer dishes from all French regions in my dinner specials,” he said.
Thus, you’ll find escargots de Bourgogne, snails in a burgundy wine broth; moules Provencales, mussels, garlic, celery, white wine and tomatoes; filet de boeuf sauce Béarnaise, filet mignon in béarnaise; and traditional poulet Basquaise, chicken and white wine in the Basque style.
Everything is housemade, including pastries, sauces, pâtés and quiches, except the bread and ice cream.
A recent visit flavorfully demonstrated these many influences. Ségolène began with a French demi baguette, served with an enticing aioli suitable for dipping and thick enough to spread with a knife. This chef flavorfully crafts with eggs, cream, lemon and garlic.
As an appetizer, she suggested an assiette Campagnard, essentially a dish of similar items in a country style, aligning with the chef’s background and experience. This included a country duck pate, in sliced style, and pork rillettes, chopped and served as a thick spread in an open tureen.
Chef and Ségolène perfectly paired this starter with a medium-bodied, fruit-forward Bordeaux Graves blend from the Pessac-Leognan District, produced by Domaine de la Grace d’ Ornon, 2009.
A seafood bouillabaisse from Voila’s new menu, which debuted during the holidays, was the entrée. Marseille-influenced, the magnificent dish includes monkfish, Scottish salmon, deep-sea scallops, branzino, shrimps, mussels and red snapper, a kind of French paella or New Orleans-style seafood gumbo. Chef adds a thick garlic-rich rouille sauce, tomatoes, celeries, fennel, white wine and spices, and potatoes, which he first cooks then quickly bakes in a pan.
Paired with this was a spectacular Gerard Fiou Sancerre Blanc 2015, young, crisp and fruity to complement the ocean tastes and textures.
“Our guests love our Bouillabaisse,” Ségolène says. Justifiably so.
She finished with a house-made chocolate tarte, topped with a dollop of vanilla ice cream and finished with a piped chocolate fern design on the plate.
“Bonne journée et à bientôt!” Ségolène may say on guests’ departure: “Have a great day and until the next time.”
Voilà French Bistro, Voilà French Bistro, 10135 E. Via Linda, Mercado del Rancho, Scottsdale, 480.614.5600, voilafrenchbistro.com.