On a nondescript stretch of Girod Street, a set of bright green shutters beckons passersby. Step off the street into the narrow dining room at Vyoone's and you'll likely be greeted at the door by one or both of the women who run the charming Warehouse District restaurant.
Friends and neighbors Vyoone Segue Lewis and Zoreh Khaleghi quietly opened their chic French-inspired bistro in January. The homey space instantly feels welcoming and there is a patio outfitted with cushioned couches and tables below hanging pendant lights, making for a romantic atmosphere and what may be one of the neighborhood's best-kept secrets.
A European undercurrent inspires much of the menu, though there are Creole influences throughout. Short ribs are served on a bed of creamy grits, New Orleans-style barbecue shrimp are served head-on and crawfish beignets grace the menu.
French influences, however, speak the loudest. Restaurant staff recommend the French onion soup, a decadent homage to the Gallic classic. It is almost viscous with soft, glutinous onions, and the velvety broth tastes beefy. A crusty piece of toast is topped by a cap of melted cheese that's broiled until crisp, giving diners the pleasure of cracking it open with the tip of a spoon, the way one might start a creme brulee.
A bowl of steamed mussels with french fries takes a delicious detour, served in a rich and creamy curry broth enhanced by the flavors of alliums and white wine. The fries are thin ribbons of crunchy potatoes, which make for a beautiful presentation.
Some diners may find many of the dishes familiar. Khaleghi is an industry veteran best known for running The Flaming Torch restaurant in Uptown until it shuttered following a fire early last year. Many of the dishes are holdovers from that restaurant, and Khaleghi's international upbringing and travels inspired many of the dishes, from the French onion soup to a saffron ice cream.
Thick slices of tomato fill a napoleon that includes layers of fresh, nutty basil and golden croquettes of fried goat cheese, and the salad is finished with sweet, syrupy balsamic reduction.
The menu and the pricing are ambitious. The restaurant takes an elevated casual fare approach and dishes are artfully presented. Compared to the rest of the menu, however, a chicory-roasted rack of lamb seemed steep at $46. It was a gorgeous piece of meat that arrived with a thick char and crusted with warm spices, but it lacked salt.
Even when not the focus of a dish, vegetables find their time in the spotlight. Golden roasted potatoes, crisp spears of asparagus and just barely wilted garlicky spinach all stood out.
As a native of the Pacific Northwest, I wasn't prepared to be as impressed as I was with grilled salmon, but the version here is excellent. The fish was cooked to a translucent medium rare and draped with buttery lemon-caper sauce. The soft flesh flaked off effortlessly with the prick of a fork.
Vyoone's has flown below radar during a long soft-opening period, but I doubt this will be the case much longer. Adding to the brimming roster of Warehouse District restaurants, Vyoone's inserts a modern French bistro into to the mix.