Bistro Voltaire

Bistro Voltaire

By Jeff Pearl

The busy streets of River North can be difficult to escape, but thankfully there’s a safe haven from the hustle and bustle right underneath the tracks of the Brown Line. Flavors straight from France effortlessly make their way onto the approachable-yet-foreign bar and patio menu and the peaceful vibe is a welcome slice of Marseille. But it’s no snoozy bistro; a seat on the chic patio gives you a full view of all the fashionable passers-by.

Start things off right with the crab cake. The exterior crisp does just enough to keep the large lumps of crab together while providing stunning textural contrast. The leek and goat cheese quiche is a good next step with a buttery, flaky crust and a caramelized cheese topping. Next, you can’t pass on the short rib sliders. This savory, fall-apart short rib rests proudly atop a toasted bun from a bakery just down the street.

the crowd

Clearly they’ve won over the neighborhood as patrons make their way down from the surrounding high rises. The crowd is a good mix of those in for the main attraction and those just on their first stop of a big night out.

... on the side

eye for design
If you’re a French history buff, try your luck at naming all of the famous individuals pictured along the walls.

at your service
Between our waiter and the owners, the whole dining room seemed well taken care of. From the wine selection to dessert, we felt guided without being pushed.



Mon-Sat: 5-11 PM

price range

$2 (Oyster on the Half Shell) to $28 (Rack of Lamb with Rosemary)