Go International From the Comfort of Your Own Area Code
Written By: Jessica Young Et Voila North Park
Take your taste buds on an international tour without leaving the area code. You can stamp your palate’s passport with authentic French cuisine at North Park’s Et Voila Bistro. With an extensive wine list, an eclectic menu and variety and experience at the helm in the kitchen, Et Voila cultivates a menu that honors its French heritage and surprises modern diners.
“We keep traditional recipes and French technique, but our goal is always to add one or two items into our dishes that put a twist on the original. We strive for modern presentations and different garnishes than the usual garnishes you might find elsewhere,” said owner Ludo Mifsud.
Mifsud was born in the French Riviera and gained his culinary experience at the prestigious Lycée des Métiers de l’Hôtellerie et du Tourisme de Toulon with a restaurant business and marketing management diploma. He continued to build his culinary and hospitality experience working in Paris and London. In 2002, he emigrated to the United States and worked in NYC’s upper east side. He made the move to the West Coast in 2005 to work at La Jolla’s Tapenade restaurant. He remained with Tapenade for more than 10 years.
Et Voila is a bit of a departure from traditional French cuisine. Mifsud wanted to create an experience for his guests that played off of traditional flavors, but that still had some modern twists. He assembled a kitchen staff with a variety of experience and has crafted a menu that reflects with worldly chefs he has working with him.
“We aren’t the traditional French restaurant, we’re a modern bistro. So while we do have traditional food, we like to put a fun edge on what we do. We like to spin the traditional because we want everyone to feel welcome coming here. Part of making everyone feel welcome is making sure we fairly price our menu, without sacrificing quality, and that is something we think we do well,” Mifsud said.
They haven’t left the mother country in the dust, though. While being aware of common stereotypes French cuisine carries, for being stuffy, or old fashioned, the Et Voila team worked to create an all-around dining experience that was fun, modern and French for their visitors.
“Through the music we choose, the way we present our dishes, the whole way the restaurant was designed—we were thinking about that stereotype the whole time and trying to avoid it because French food doesn’t have to be that way. It can be lively and fun and that is why we try new, bolder variations of classics,” Mifsud said.
Mifsud and his team worked to find inspiration from French culinary traditions and use those iconic flavors to build a menu that diners would love. Staples, like escargot, steak frites and French onion soup, help create a genuine French experience and also serve as a jumping point for new creations.
“There is authenticity in what we do, even if we do mix things up a bit. We also stick with only French or American wines. We designed everything to remind us of France. From the booths to the craft paper on the tables, to the floor tiles and the lighting fixtures and the zinc bar, our clock reflecting Paris time, and the colors throughout, we were trying to bring you to Paris, and we think we’ve accomplished that,” Mifsud said.
The Normal Heights/North Park location was an obvious choice for Mifsud. He wanted to create a bistro that was intimate and neighborhood-oriented. The comfortable communities along Adams Avenue allowed him to put together a community-oriented eatery that was welcoming to all kinds of adventurous diners.
“We didn’t want to be trendy or touristy, we wanted to be a neighborhood bistro like you would find in Paris. We wanted to be part of this neighborhood because it means catering to a diverse crowd,” Mifsud said.
To wrap your mouth around the perfect bite of France, Mifsud suggests starting with one of Et Voila’s cocktails, such as the Black Rye Manhattan or the Huckleberry Bourbon. Next up would be an order of the duo of foie gras and as an entree, the Roasted New Zealand Sea Bream. And a superb meal would finish with a cheese plate that includes at least the Reblochon and Camembert.
“If you really want to do it the French way, the meal should end with a soufflé and a glass of champagne,” Mifsud said.
Et Voila French Bistro
3015 Adams Ave
San Diego, CA 92116
Say “Bonjour” to Et Voila North Park
Jessica Young has lived in San Diego since 2003. She is a graduate of San Diego State University, where she received her Bachelor's Degree in Journalism and Anthropology from San Diego State University. She also holds Master's Degree in Education from University of California, San Diego. Young works as a journalism teacher at Orange Glen High School in Escondido, Calif.
Young is the President of the San Diego Journalism Education Association and serves on the Board of Directors and Board of Trustees for the Quill and Scroll International Journalism Honor Society. She is an active member of the scholastic journalism community and teaches at workshops and conventions around the country. She was recognized as a "Rising Star" by the Journalism Education Association.
In addition to teaching, Young enjoys running with her adopted golden retriever, Maxwell. She has conquered the Original Marathon course in Athens, Greece as well as the Inca Trail in Peru. Young also dabbles in baking and photography. You can follow her adventures on instragram at: @racingcupakes.