OUR RATING: Do It!
This wine bar in Roscoe Village has a casual elegance that makes it the perfect place to enjoy a glass or two, indulge in small plates (which aren’t really that small) and relax in the cool embrace of your own personal cabana, complete with wispy gauze curtains and dazzling strings of lights that trail into your peripheral vision. With an extensive wine list and eclectic food menu, Volo is set to become the staple for date-nights throughout the city.
Adam: When first laying eyes on Volo, you might not think much. The front is like all the other wine bars you’ve ever seen, with a small selection of seating on the pavement. Inside, a secluded and dark atmosphere exudes, but it is the back patio that really makes this place special. Your feet patter across the red-brick floor to your desired seat, whether it be a black-iron table, or one of the specially upholstered cabanas. Lanterns dangle from the ceiling, casting a warm glow, while vines creep up the walls.
Volo is, first and foremost, a wine bar, and it would have been criminal not to have tried some of their almost endless varieties on offer. For a diverse and leisurely experience, try out one of their wine flights. I chose the Oregon Whites Flight, partly because the options seemed interesting, and also because Oregon is an up-and-coming wine region, worthy of our appreciation and scrutiny. I started off with the 2010 Brooks Riesling from Willamette Valley, OR. Technically, of course, Riesling should derive from the Rhinelands, but the Oregon type still maintained some of the original character, if not also being rather tart for a Riesling. Next, I sampled the 2012 Anne Amie Müller-Thurgau of Yamhill-Carlton, OR. A relative recent variety of white grape, it was bred for the first time in 1882 by Hermann Müller of Thurgau, Switzerland. Again, we have the German connection, although this wine shines brighter than the Riesling, with peach, melon and minerals creating a crisp, strong wine. Finally, I sipped away at the 2011 Four Graces Pinot Gris, Willamette Valley, OR. A Burgundian formulation originally, the pinot gris has a fragrant, slightly sweet incarnation here, along with a honeyed finish that is divine as the Graces themselves. Highly recommended alone, or in the trio.
As for food, the selection is sumptuous. Small plates are not small, and will easily feed two people. Choosing one of their signature dishes, the marrow bones and toast, of roast veal bones served with medium flake sea salt and thyme dashed toasts, I was presented with a mountainous plate of at least 6 bones, each of which had beautifully succulent marrow within. Like a hunter-gather of yore, I relished in the juicy softness of the marrow, so dutifully spread upon the toasts and seasoned with just a hint of salt. One of the best plates I’ve tasted in a long time.
Alicia: Volo’s back patio is the perfect date-night spot, or even a girl’s night out, where one can sit back and relax with good wine and food and talk the night away while bathed in the ambience of a magical secret garden. To fit with the elegance of my surroundings I chose Volo’s bubbly flight. I started with the NV Adami, Brut Valdobbiadene Prosecco from Veneto Italy. With scents of apple and peach and with notes of white flower, this Prosecco had a strangely crisp and savory mouthfeel that while initially refreshing, left a somewhat muddled afternote. I continued the flight with the NV Camille Braun, Cremant d’Alsace, France, which was extremely fruity and crisp, and yet delicate all the same. Unsurprisingly, my favorite of the night was the NV Terres Dorees, FRV 100, from Beaujolais, France. This bubbly had a lovely rosy color and was complete with red berry melange, orange oil, a touch of soil and a zesty mousse.
To complement my flight I ordered a trio of their artisanal farmhouse cheeses, which lovingly came with a large basket of toasts for $12. I added on a plate of their sweet honey, candied nuts and date jam for $5 and was not disappointed, with portions of everything being quite generous, and really–with how rich every component is–a little goes a long way.
I started my cheese plate by playing it safe with a montchevre garlic and herb from wisconsin, a lovely goat’s milk cheese from Wisconsin that was mild and creamy with delicious roasted garlic, rosemary & thyme, perhaps my favorite of the night. I had my hopes up for their lamb chopper from California, a mild sheep’s milk cheese from Cypress Grove Chevre that was buttery in color and flavor with a long finish, but ultimately it was pretty run of the mill. The most unique cheese was the epoisses de Bourgogne, France, a pungent, unpasteurized cow’s milk cheese washed with brandy. The brandy was subtle and yet added an amazing bite that cut the pungent quality of the cheese quite nicely.
Final Thoughts: This is one of Chicago’s places to be, but if you plan on going you should plan on the long haul: meals here are very European and you might find yourself there for a lengthy period of time. Because of the longer meals and the popularity of the outdoor seating, we suggest you reserve in advance and eat a little earlier to beat the dinner crowd. And hey, they have happy hour oysters and pork belly skewers every weekday night from 5-7 anyways, so this is the perfect early-evening extravaganza to delight all of your senses.