Vout, as I reported a couple of months ago, is the new concept available during the week for the well-established Slims, which specializes in locally-grown food (grown by owner Patrick McCafferty) with a Latin twist. Vout takes Slims’ weekend menu, makes it a bit more casual– and a la carte.
I went there a couple of weeks ago as a belated Mother’s day present for my mom. Mom, as I’ve mentioned before, is my culinary barometer. I’ll eat anything, but she’s a bit more mainstream. If she likes it, it’s approachable. Vout won her seal of approval.
The menu is similar to the weekend menu– heavy on Puerto Rican and other Latin dishes, with lots of fresh produce from their urban garden. The pace is much faster, as it is not hampered by Slims often-slow service. A dinner at Slims on the weekend can take upwards of 3 hours; we were in and out in about an hour, and we enjoyed three courses. They did have some issues with coursing– Terry’s dish came out a lot earlier than either my mom’s or my dish.
We started off with a charcuterie plate, decorated with some pickled onions (I really need to make my own, I am happily addicted to this condiment, which I’m seeing everywhere lately!), grainy mustard, a spicy mayonnaise and the smallest, sweetest fresh radishes you’ve ever seen. The cured meats ranged from spicy to mild, with ample portions and a nice balance.
Mom and I both got salads, fresh from the garden– an assortment of fresh greens with a light vinaigrette. There’s nothing earth-shattering about this salad except that it is simple, with exceptional ingredients. What a difference fresh produce makes in something that could otherwise be overlooked.
Terry chose the gazpacho. Nicely seasoned, not too spicy, cool and refreshing– though a bit early in the season. I would kill for this on a day like today, when it’s hot and humid. The day we went it was a little cool– but check this out during the summer, if you find it on the menu.
Terry’s entree came out about ten minutes earlier than the other two entrees. He ordered the Cuban, which turned out to be two small Cuban-style sandwiches cut up into four quarters each. I know that the food here is really better termed Latin-inspired or Latin-fusion, so I won’t say “This didn’t taste like a Cuban!”– it didn’t. The meats were all delicious and moist, there was a good amount of both sour and mustard, but the bread was odd– very mealy, crumbly, and hard. It was the only real miss of the night, and would have been a win had it been on different bread.
Mom got the “seafood”, which was a seafood stew with mussels, scallops and shrimp in a romesco-style sauce. She’d never had mussels before, but loved the garlicky, peppery sauce. It paired well with the side dish we split, corn pudding. This was unlike any sort of corn pudding I’d had– it was sweet, with maple undertones (perhaps it was sweetened with maple?), and a polenta-like texture, studded with bright corn kernels. There’s usually one thing in a good meal I would go back for, all by itself– and this was it.
I got the the pork– a pernil asado. Spicy and falling-apart-tender, and topped with a couple of crisp plantain chips. Remember, though, it’s just pork– so you might want a side. The corn pudding as an excellent complement to this dish as well. This kind of dish makes me want to buy (or make) some sofrito (a Puerto Rican seasoning involving garlic, onions, tomatoes, and peppers) — it adds such incredible depth to the dish.
We skipped dessert– perhaps not the mark of a comprehensive review, but really– no room. I actually prefer the Vout concept to Slims– again, no worries about slow service, the food is just as good, and you can choose how many courses you want. The price was fantastic– less than $20 per person. It is, of course, BYOB, so that factors into the low per person cost.
And Mom? She loved it– and can’t wait to go back.