I recently enjoyed lunch here during Walnut Creek Restaurant week, where over 2 dozen of Walnut Creek’s finest restaurants offer 3 course prix-fixe lunch and/or dinner menus at prices ranging from $10-$40. Va De Vi is the Creek’s only listing on the SF Chronicle’s list of the Bay Area’s Top 100 Restaurant list for 2012 and is a bit spendy for my regular lunch rotation. Anyways, I was interested to check it out since Shane McAnelly took over the kitchen last year. He was most recently executive sous chef at Zero Zero, and before that was chef de cuisine at the now-closed Garibaldis in Oakland. The menu of international small plates now reflects a mediterranean flourish. My friend Chris came out to meet me for lunch and we opted to sit out on the patio to enjoy the sun, which was kept cozy by overhead heaters. There are lovely fountains lining the walkway which lead to a pond in the back courtyard that is filled with carp.
Chris opted to order from the menu and began with a Shot Glass of Soup ($3), a cream of asparagus & leek soup topped with lemon oil. It was a small portion (not much bigger than most amuse bouche) but was very toothsome and we loved the slightly crunchy slices of asparagus contained within.
She had the Rock Shrimp Avocado Lumpia served over wasabi-orange aioli, ponzu sauce. ($10 yes that’s for one lumpia…), which is a signature dish that has been on the menu from the beginning of time.
The lumpia was filled with large chunks of rock shrimp, avocado and pungent bits of fresh chive. It was savory and delicious and even better than I remembered from my last visit; it was less creamy and the wrapper had a different texture that was both flaky and crisp. Yum! This time, I had all of the pickled ginger to myself.
I had the 3 course prix-fixe and began with Iceberg Salad, a generous mound of said lettuce, mixed in with slices of watermelon radish, chewy house cured pancetta, hard cooked egg, red onion, blue cheese dressing ($8).
Wild Nettle & Ricotta Gnudi ($11), a type of gnocchi. They are basically the filling of a ravioli, sans pasta and thus considered to be a nude ravioli.
The light ricotta dumplings are tender puffs infused with the umami of mushrooms and fresh herbaceous nettles, drizzled with black truffle butter, meyer lemon. Very intriguing and delicious.
The meal ended with a Meyer Lemon Tart topped with toasted meringue and passion fruit sauce ($8). We were full and only had a bite each. I took it back to the office and gave it to my co-worker (coincidentally also named Chris), who loves lemony things. He later told me that he didn’t like it because the crust tasted like old oil…
Dining at Va De Vi is a leisurely and somewhat pricey affair, things that normally don’t mesh well with the worker bee crew. I loved the soup and the pasta and plan to go back, although probably not for lunch during the work week; then perhaps I can spend some time exploring the wine bar menu and flights too…