Voodoo Vin has the essence of a barebones Parisian cafe you might slip into for a glass of chilled red and a fancy-ish platter of house-cured meats. Shelves filled with bottles line the walls, communal tables are candlelit, and a few chairs are scattered on the sidewalk if you care to partake in the romanticized bistro experience. If you’re looking for a casual but delicious meal that doesn’t require much planning, this Virgil Village wine bar is a great option on the Eastside.
You’ll usually see two types of customers here: couples breaking the ice during a wine-fueled second date, and clusters of friends dissecting the highs and lows of everyday life over a bottle or three. Voodoo Vin also boasts a 400+ wine list with bottles spanning remote Georgian valleys to Italian organic farms with what we can only imagine is godsent soil, but the atmosphere here is refreshingly simple and unfussy. Most people just wander in, find a chair, and flag down a waiter to order a bottle of something fizzy, a beautiful salad to share, and some Spanish anchovies to snack on while their friend complains about work.
The simplicity theme also comes through in the food: none of the small plates require extensive cooking and mainly consist of assembled platters of sweet, salty, and mildly funky things. But some things verge on too simple, like the $18 apéro plate that’s a few slices of (tasty) cheese and salami plus a pile of cornichons. The Caesar tartare is the most delicious thing we tried but comes to $28 for a thick slice of bread with diced beef on top. And we can appreciate the craftsmanship behind housemade pasta and mortadella, but ideally, it would be nice to get a full meal from this relatively short menu for under $100. Yes, Voodoo Vin is definitely pricey for Virgil Village, but it’s also a lovely place to sit curbside for a leisurely, unrushed dinner—you can sip an $18 glass of natural wine and ponder why your neighbor stopped saying hi to you in the elevator.
Voodoo Vin doesn’t take reservations, but finding a seat isn’t usually an issue. It’s a neighborhood hangout that never gets too packed, so you can show up on a Tuesday night to deepen your wine knowledge with friends and have a few bites without giving your plans too much thought. Consider it a reliable spot when you can’t be bothered to make a dinner reservation or go to the same Happy Hour the third week in a row.
If you're with a group, get this as a first course for the table. It won't blow your mind, but a a few slices of salty semi-hard cheese, a pile of briny cornichons, and the kitchen’s smoky housemade salami with big blotches of buttery fat will set the mood.
This salad is all over the place in flavor and texture and we mean that as a compliment. It's sweet and juicy from the peaches and tomatoes, tangy from the salty dressing, and slightly crispy from big croutons that soak up all the flavors in this salad. There’s also an actual snowdrift of grated mimolette on top that looks like whoever grated it spaced out and forgot to stop (it’s a lot of cheese).
“Caesar” Beef Tartare
Yes, this is another beef tartare on a hip restaurant’s menu, but we swear this one is different. In fact, this is one of the best beef tartares we’ve had recently because of the intensely tangy and salty caesar cream that is spread on the toast.
Sure, the pinkish-gray color of this mortadella brings back memories of dreaded bologna sandwiches in our lunchbox, but this fatty, silky housemade cold cut is in a league of its own. This dish is just a plate of excellent, thinly sliced meat with some extra heat and acidity from pickled chilis.
This pasta is very tasty, but it’s also so an incredibly rich oil bomb that becomes heavy after a few bites. The ‘nduja sausage releases all of its spicy, fatty goodness in the bolognese, resulting in what might be too much of a good thing. Order this only if you're looking for a hearty centerpiece.