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N.Y. / Region | Dining Review | Westchester

Something for Tout le Monde
A Review of Vox in North Salem

By M. H. REED June 27, 2014

Next month, Vox will celebrate its 10th anniversary.
This charming restaurant and bar has been a beacon to those navigating the sharp curves of Route 116 in the woodsy isolation of North Salem.

Despite its unusual name and odd, movie-house décor, Vox has the ambience of an inn (without beds), as did its previous occupant, the restaurant Auberge Maxime. The warm personal welcome from the host and owner, Jean Le Bris, carries with it the promise of good food and good drink.

You can sample Vox’s offerings in the subdued dining room, at the bar or on the patio, from which guests relaxing at white tables under bright cherry umbrellas can admire the long shadows of late afternoon playing over gardens and rolling hills.

The menu has changed little over the years, retaining much of its French flavor. An update with more information about the provenance of, say, chickens or oysters would today be appreciated. Nonetheless, the listing has something for every appetite: entrees, burgers, sandwiches (like the intriguing Le Royal with “special ground meats,” foie gras, melted onion and Cheddar on a brioche), a children’s menu and a raw bar.

Salmon Tartare Napoleon with Avocado and Chips.
Credit Wendy Carlson for The New York Times

Excellent hot rolls, sweet butter and popcorn were brought to the table almost immediately. A special or two are usually on offer, and those we tried were splendid, like the duck confit, the leg and thigh moist and tender, and well matched by a mound of light, nutty farro, diced peaches and onions. Also “du jour” were round, floppy, truffle-scented ravioli and a bright, cold sweet carrot and tangy ginger soup.

Plump Prince Edward Island mussels overflowed a deep crock; we had them Belgian style — steamed in beer instead of white wine — and left not a drop of the luscious liquor behind. Also from Prince Edward Island were raw oysters, fresh and briny but a tad small. A mignonette sauce was overly sour, so test it before dunking that delicate oyster. Salmon tartare Napoleon layered with avocado could have used firmer packing; however, the impaled chips managed to scoop up the chopped fish nicely. A pair of crab cakes were standard.

Mussels Steamed in Beer, Belgian style.
Credit Wendy Carlson for The New York Times

Among the main courses, consider first the fish entrees. Careful timing, expert searing, sparkling fresh fish — all worked to preserve juiciness, to enhance texture and to coax flavor. Both common red and rarer ivory king salmon came seared crisp on the skin side, leaving the rest of the chunk soft and buttery and wonderful.

Ivory salmon was dressed simply and brilliantly with shallots and fresh tarragon and sided by the best fingerlings ever. Cubes of sweet beet and potato, arugula and a stunning carrot purée adorned the red salmon. Perhaps the best of three fish entrees, however, was cod cooked sous-vide. It flaked in moist shards over a delicious sauté of napa cabbage, leeks and spinach.

As for meats, a dice of lusty merguez sausage gave sweet lamb chops a Moroccan touch, bolstered by mild, cooling tzatziki and couscous tossed with a pretty confetti of vegetables. However, a chicken half was dry from over-roasting, making the stars of this dish the sides. Neatly stacked, tender green beans were first-rate, and the pommes frites were freshly fried and golden in their paper cones. Long Island duck could have been pulled from the heat a few minutes sooner, but the slices of duck breast were still rosy as they tented a small leg confit. A black rice spring roll was a misfit on this plate. In general, the kitchen tends to oversalt a bit.

Even without the ile flottante with praline for dessert, most meals here offer quality, freshness and creativity at very reasonable prices. But there it was, at the very end, that show-off: a quivery cumulus of meringue under lashings of caramel and slivers of crunchy pecan praline, wading in a shallow pool of crème anglaise. Fresh whipped cream lightened a mousse of dense, wonderfully dark chocolate. Cool peach Melba was a welcome revival. Yet it did take a big scoop of lovely vanilla ice cream to give ho-hum apple tart some guts, but why order that when there is that floating island to be had?

Very Good

VOX
721 Titicus Road (Route 116)
North Salem
(914) 669-5450

The Space
Wine-red panels, photos of film stars, a row of theater seats, globe lights
and a popcorn machine lend a theatrical theme. White tables under deep-red umbrellas dot
the roomy patio that has long views of manicured lawns and gardens. Wheelchair accessible.

The Crowd
Multigenerational in neat, casual dress. Warm welcome and knowledgeable service.

The Bar
A good place for snacks and drinks. Cocktails, $10. Wine by the glass, $8 to $14; by the bottle, $30 and up.

The Bill
Dinner entrees, $25 to $29; New York strip steak, $34; pasta, $16 to $22.
Sandwiches, $14 to $17. Brunch, $11 to $17 (with choice of greens or French fries).
Children’s selections, $9 and $10.

What we Liked
Salmon tartare Napoleon, mussels Belgian style, duck confit with farro (special),
house-made ravioli, carrot and ginger soup, cod sous-vide, crispy-skin salmon, wild ivory king salmon, loin of lamb with merguez sausage, haricots verts, french fries, ile flottante pralinee, chocolate mousse.

IF YOU GO
Dinner, Wednesday and Thursday, 5:30 to 9 p.m.;
Friday and Saturday, 5:30 to 10 p.m.;
Sunday, noon to 8:30 p.m.

RATINGS Excellent, Very Good, Good, Fair, Poor.

A version of this review appeared in print on June 29, 2014, on page
WE8 of the New York edition with the headline: Something for Tout la Monde.

 

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