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La Voûte: Homewood’s boutique hotel features French bistro

Chef Burt presents midwest fare with French essence

By Carrie Steinweg

HOMEWOOD, Ill. (October 6, 2022) – La Voûte Bistro + Bar is a south suburban gem, being located in the only boutique hotel in the area, and offering a downtown Chicago-caliber dining experience in the heart of downtown Homewood — a dining experience that will transport diners to Paris.

Hotel history

Old safe deposit boxes are used as the back of the bar. (Photo: Carrie Steinweg)

La Banque Hotel opened in 2015, the vision of French-Canadian Claude Gendreau who had recently acquired the Ravisloe Country Club. The 1925 Homewood State Bank went under extensive renovations to transform it from a former financial institution to an 18-room luxury boutique hotel.

The vaults and safety deposit boxes were repurposed in the design of the hotel. Safety deposit boxes were used as a backdrop of the bar and for the hotel room numbers. The main vault is now a small, private dining room that was inspected and signed by then FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover.

The hotel underwent a change in management last fall and is now being managed by Charlestowne Hospitality Management Company, which has a clientele of over 40 hotels and over 30 restaurants nationwide.

The historic bank vault has been turned into a private (secure) dining room. (Photo: Carrie Steinweg)

“Our goal with La Voûte and La Banque is to allow for an authentic moment with an elevated experience that Homewood will be invested in and proud of. We will position the hotel and restaurant as the preferred destination for individuals traveling to and dining in Homewood/Flossmoor and the surrounding area,” said Imran Jivani, Corporate Director of Operations with Charlestowne Hospitality.

The new chef

Not long after the new management company was established, a new executive chef came onboard. He also serves as the bistro’s general manager. Robert Burt has worked in restaurants throughout the south suburbs, including the Maple Tree Inn in Blue Island, Fresh Starts in Flossmoor and the Cottage on Dixie in Homewood. He passed through the Court of Master Sommeliers Americas and worked as a wine and beverage director and then in sales for a boutique wine company.

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La Voûte Executive Chef and General Manager Robert Burt holds a plate of “Martini Oysters,” which include vermouth butter, gruyère, asiago, and lemon satchet. (Photo: Carrie Steinweg)

Most recently he spent a season as the head chef at Locavore Farm in Grant Park creating dine-on-the-land dinners.

“Last year I was solely working with them and understood how to work the bounties of the season of the farm,” he said. “Just understanding the seasons and what’s coming and how long you have it for and working it into a restaurant setting is not easy.”

Prior to his season at Locavore as head chef, he had worked at the farm with the Cottage on Dixie team, who was then doing the on-site meal preparation.

He describes the menu at La Voûte as “Midwest fare with French essence.”

Burt is also passionate about giving recognition to staff and investing in their success. He calls line cook Paige Basile, “the heart and soul” of the kitchen. “She’ll do the work of ten people without being asked to and she’ll outwork anyone. She has the drive and passion. She’s going to be the next superstar. She’s an incredible human being,” he said. “She does it always with a smile on her face and she’s always the first one with a kind word out of her mouth, always the first one to pick you up when you’re down. That’s what I’m working with and that’s the excitement for me.”

He credits his sous chef, Pierre Vega, with being behind many of the creative dishes that are presented on the specials menu. “He’s an absolute pleasure of a man and a genius of a cook. He’s a mentor to all the kitchen staff. He’s a teacher,” said Burt.

He quotes St. Thomas Aquinas: “It’s better to illuminate than to merely shine, to deliver to others contemplated truths than to merely contemplate.” He considers the staff to be unsung heroes. “We have great people here. My job is to show their talents. If I have that from the top down, then my people embrace that philosophy and are able to teach everyone around them and they illuminate others. And if all that works, in a perfect world, that all trickles down to the customer and they understand the excitement and they can feel the love and feel things that are not just food on their table, but that special something that we look for when we go out.”

The Bistro

La Voûte Bistro + Bar is a French-inspired bistro inside a nearly century-old building that was once the center of commerce in downtown Homewood. The elegant interior features plush, rounded booths, vintage-inspired tilework, and a sleek bar area. There’s also a patio area for outdoor seating.

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La Voûte brings a Chicago-caliber dining experience to Homewood and the south suburbs. (Photo: Carrie Steinweg)

On the menu are creative, visually-appealing, artistically-presented dishes inspired by the food landscape in France — among them are a house-made Parisienne gnocchi that is featured in two dishes, ratatouille, boeuf au poivre, steak frites and a croque madame.

The appetizer list includes flatbread made with gruyère creme fraîche, a charcuterie board with a rotating selection of pâté, saucissons, picked vegetables, house-made jams, mustards, spreads, and a favorite of Burt, the Mussels Meunière (Prince Edward Island mussels, white wine, butter, parsley and shallots). One of the more casual plates is one that is still elevated with French inspiration – the La Voûte Burger, which is a black Angus burger with gruyère, caramelized onions, bacon, and roasted garlic aioli on a brioche bun.

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The Fried Chicken Thigh Sandwich and fries, available at La Voûte Bistro + Bar in Homewood. (Photo: Carrie Steinweg)

Desserts are made in-house, with the exception of another local product — Zarlengo’s gelato, which is made in Chicago Heights.

There is quite an extensive wine list and Burt loves making recommendations for pairings. There’s also a unique cocktail menu. Burt’s favorites include the Bawdy Shirley (Traverse City Cherry Bourbon, lemon-lime soda, and Luxardo cherries), the Roscinante (Botanist Gin, Cointreau, Lillet Blanc, Absinthe, and lemon), the Earl Gray (Earl gray infused vodka, Cointreau, Lillet Rouge, and lime) and the Maline (Tequila, chambord, ginger beer, and lime).

Shining a spotlight on local producers

The knowledge of and familiarity with the farm-to-table approach has carried over into the menu at La Voûte Bistro + Bar, where Burt utilizes local, fresh ingredients whenever he can.

“At The Cottage on Dixie I decided that a really important factor to the proximity to the land and where our food culture started and who was down here in the southland 60, 70 years ago — we were the bread basket of Chicago, using the Vincennes trail as passage from the farmland — to really embrace the heritage and celebrate the Midwest and specifically south of Chicago,” said Burt.

Working directly with local farms, such as Locavore and negotiants representing farmer co-ops in Northwest Indiana, he’s been able to bring the freshest taste of the region to the table. Spring lamb, tomatoes, and beets are some local ingredients that have supplemented the menu.

He also tries to work in a local angle when he can. For a recent event benefiting the local humane society, Burt dressed up hot dog stand, but used “local humanely-processed, pasteurized ingredients that didn’t see a thousand hands, fifty trucks, twenty boxes to get to us,” he said. “They were from producer to us.”

Location and hours

La Voûte Bistro + Bar is located inside La Banque Hotel at 2034 Ridge Road in Homewood. Dinner hours are 4 – 9 p.m. on Wednesday, Thursday, and Sunday and 4 – 10 p.m. on Friday and Saturday. Lunch hours are Friday and Saturday from 11 a.m. – 2 p.m. and Sunday brunch hours are from 10 a.m. – 2 p.m. For more information and menus, visit lavoutebistro.com.

Carrie Steinweg
Carrie Steinweg
Carrie Steinweg is a freelance writer, photographer, author, and food and travel blogger who has lived in Lansing for 27 years. She most enjoys writing about food, people, history, and baseball. Her favorite Lansing Journal articles that she has written are: "Lan Oak Lanes attracts film crew," "Why Millennials are choosing Lansing," "Curtis Granderson returns home to give back," "The Cubs, the World Series, fandom, and family," and "Lansing's One Trick Pony Brewery: a craft beer oasis."