La Vache & Co. img17La Vache & Co.
LA VACHE & CO., located on the corner of Robinson & 4th Ave. in Hillcrest is more than just another restaurant in this part of town. “Philippe says I love being here in Hillcrest. The people are real, I like that” He continues ” I wanted to get rid of that snobby reputation that French

Food has…wanted to create a California style restaurant that caters to the neighborhood and just happens to serve French food”.

Even thought he has essentially accomplished this thought his menu, the interiorSetting still has the charm and ambience one might find in the countryside of France.The walls of La Vache are warm terracotta with a soft texturing of turquoise over painting.Ivory fabric draped over doors way and windows further to soften the look. On the back wall, Two very large mirrors are cleverly placed, enlarging the room. A chalky blackboardHangs on a sidewall with the evening’s specials written on it. Large antique brass pots and other kitchen instruments add to the casual decor. And stunning large fresh floral creations from flora style in Hillcrest make the final touch.

The Menu at La Vache & Co.

Introduces dishes that explode with robust flavors, dishes that are coaxed and teased to the most savory effects of Traditional French Cooking. This is the hearty, succulent style common in private households; the restaurant describes itself as specializing in “casual French country” fare. The rustic angle also explains the name, which translates as “The Cow & Co.,” and the decor, which runs to bric-a-brac, a wall-mounted chalk-board that displays a carefully printed rendition of the menu, a partially open Kitchen visible from some tables, and a huge, beautiful flowers that occupies its own tiny table at the rear of the room.

At peak hours waits at LA VACHE & CO. are common, which makes the restaurant’s policy of accepting reservations only for parties of six or more somewhat annoying.

After you’ve been greeted by your jeans and T-shirt decked server, open this varied menu and Begin your experience. La Vache & Co. offers several classic appetizers like Tar tine de Brie.One popular selection is Tartines Provencial, which is grilled bread spread with three different

Provencial flavors-black olive, tomatoes with olive oil and garlic with cheese.     There are several salads to choose from including the classic Salad Nicoise, which is a meal in itself. It is a mix of traditional greens, tomatoes, black olives, onion, green beans and boiled egg topped off with anchovies, served with vinaigrette dressing.

You might wonder about seeing pizza on the menu- is this the California part? Apparently Not-pissaladiere is a traditional French pizza from Provence, topped with sautéed onion, capers, garlic, anchovies, black olives and pine nuts. If anchovies aren’t your favorite, there is other to try, equally fascinating. The dinner choice are varied-Classic Boef Bourguignon simmered in red wine with mushrooms, onions, bacon, potatoes and a touch of tomato, or perhaps the Saumon aux Ecrevisses, a grilled filet of salmon with light cream of crayfish sauce.

“Many foods from the south of France use the spices and flavors usually connected with Mediterranean style cooking”.

Why the name La Vache & Co.?

Philippe responds to this question with simple answer, “La Vache means ‘the cow’ in French and when I was a child and we went to the countryside, I remember most of all, the cow. I added ‘& Co.’ to the name to give it a more corporate image, sort of the American touch”. With his basic idea of a California style restaurant that serves French food, Philippe strives and succeeds in giving La Vache a down-to-earth friendly feel, where anyone can come and relax, enjoy a wonderful meal, a bottle of wine and still afford dessert!

LaVache affects a well-worn, countrified look, even though the building that houses it is relatively recent vintage. Roughly applied paint makes the walls look aged, and blackboards carry snatches of French peotry. This is one of the rare San Diego restaurants at which the guests are dressier than the servers, who wear baggy jeans and the restaurant’s official shirts. Many readers will recall Beltran from The French Side of the West, which flourished for years at Fourth and Kalmia and offered classic French prix fixe menus of three or four courses.

If he maintains his standards at La Vache & Co., the place should last just about forever, since the menu, service, look and prices all are exactly right. “This is straight from The French Side of the West,” says Beltran as he presents an assiette de charcuterie, a perfectly arranged plate of French cold cuts and cheese centered by a bit of salad and decorated with a few walnuts, hazelnuts and sour cornichon pickles. The pickings are choice and include a slice of genuine rosette de Lyon salami, a coarse flavorful chicken pate and a dollop of creamy duck liver mousse.

Another happy way to start is with the tartines provencales, grilled slices of chewy country Bread topped variously with black-olive paste, chopped raw tomatoes with salt and olive oil, and a breathy paste of garlic and Parmesan. There also ate frog legs sautéed with garlic, parsley and cream, a mountainous plate of crisp calamari with a tomatoes garlic mayonnaise. This menu also offers informal dinning, in the form of salads and six decidedly French pizzas. Mustard, herbs, honey and limejuice flavor the crab-and-crayfish salad($4.50;$8.50 for an entrée-sized plate), which is enriched with avocado and the thick cream the French call crème friache.

Garlic mayonnaise decorates greens topped with spiced grilled shrimp, while bits of conflict-Style duck top a tasty jumble of greens, nuts, mushrooms and marinated potatoes.

Unusual offerings include sea bass with a pun get black-olive sauce and an “aioli plate” of grilled, spice seafood accompanied by a bowl of the creamy garlic mayonnaise. The filet mignon served with a choice of pepper, Roquefort or Béarnaise sauces-and you may get all three if you ask nicely-is a delicious and filling bistro classic. Bistro classic also fill out the desserts menu, which offers chocolate mousse, crème caramel and “floating island” meringues in custard sauce and good version of profiteroles, the cream puffs stuffed with vanilla ice cream and drenched with rich chocolate sauce. (Written By David Nelson.)