Café Vermilionville is like any old friend: When you drop by after a long absence, catching up is such a pleasure.
Owned by Ken and Andrea Veron, the Old South, white tablecloth ambience is reminiscent of Galatoire’s or Antoine’s, so don’t go if you’re in a rush. There’s a small, quiet bar for that pre-meal glass of vino.
The wine list is solid and while there isn’t an abundance of by-the-glass choices, there are easy-to-find favorites. The Ferrari-Carrano will stand you in good stead with any of the following for lunch, guaranteed.
Those trays of tiny glasses you see carried out aren’t shots, they’re sides of sherry for the turtle soup ($7), and it’s quickly evident by the number of glasses the restaurant’s known for it. Each bowl comes with sherry and chopped hard-boiled egg for customizing, and, yes, the turtle’s genuine, not mock.
Ask for the steak & frites ($14) and you will see how tenderloin gets its name. Buried under a mound of perfectly dressed arugula, the pyramid presentation is as elegant as the ingredients are simple: excellent steak cooked to your exact — and we do mean exact — specifications atop a bottom layer of delicate shoestring potatoes. Tell your dining party up front to order their own, because you’re not about to share.
A French dip sandwich ($12) can be tricky to eat in company, but you can order Café V’s with confidence. The steak is the same tender cut as above and the melted Gruyère easy to manage. A side of sweet potato fries makes an excellent accompaniment.
As is true of expertly-prepared dishes anywhere, the moment of truth is whether or not you regret the indulgence. You won’t. Culinary team C.J. Pothier, Tony Dinh and Corinthian Bernard know balanced but not heavy, and there will be room for dessert.
Try the berry cobbler ($7.50), a dressed-up version of Grandma’s old favorite — blackberries layered with pie crust in a parfait glass and topped with whipped cream.
The perfect reminder to make new friends, but keep the old.