Company hired to manage La Banque/La Voute 

La Banque Hotel and La Voute Bistro + Bar are under new management. 

Charlestowne Hospitality Management Company began managing the 1925 former bank property last November. The company has a clientele of over 40 hotels and over 30 restaurants nationwide which now includes the downtown boutique hotel that opened in 2015 following a lengthy renovation to the landmark structure.

Martini oysters are topped with with gruyere and asiago cheeses at La Voute Bistro + Bar in Homewood. (Carrie Steinweg/H-F Chronicle)

The change in management doesn’t necessarily mean that big changes are planned for the property’s appearance. Charlestowne specializes in emphasizing and celebrating the distinctive attributes of each property, so subtle improvements to operations will continue to elevate the hotel to meet the vision that owner Claude Gendreau had when he decided to save the iconic, historic building, as he also did with Ravisloe Country Club after it closed.

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

Chef Robert Burt, right, and line cook Paige Basile show off several La Voute offerings. (Carrie Steinweg)

La Voute’s menu has retained some classics and customer favorites, but is shifting toward a more seasonal approach. Robert Burt, who started there in January, is the new general manager and executive chef. 

His experience has taken him through the south suburbs, from the Maple Tree Inn in Blue Island to Fresh Starts in Flossmoor to 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. 

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.” 

The La Voute Burger — black angus beef, bacon, caramelized onions, gruyere cheese and roasted garlic aioli on a brioche bun.

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.

“It was when I was at the Cottage on Dixie that we really embraced the farm-to-table aspect and got very deep into it,” he said, noting what an important role the region has played Historically in agriculture and sourcing food to the area. “This was the bread basket of Chicago using the Vincennes trail as passage from the farmland in South Holland and the Thornton area and Chicago Heights to the markets.”

Burt has a sincere desire “to embrace the locality and the heritage and celebrate the Midwest, specifically the area south of Chicago,” which he will do in utilizing local ingredients and showcasing them in weekly specials.

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. One example of Vega’s creativity was a recent beef dish with steak marinated in fruits. “He used pears and apples to marinate the meat. It was grilled and cut thin with a fry bread made with blue corn masa from a local mill.”

Another key team member that he complimented was line cook Paige Basile, whom he called “the heart and soul of the kitchen. She’ll do the work of ten people without being asked. She has drive and passion and is going to be the next superstar.”

La Voute’s fried chicken thigh sandwich is served on a brioche bun. (Carrie Steinweg/H-F Chronicle)

Burt is quick to praise the entire staff. 

“The biggest thing I think I’ve brought here is the philosophy of restaurants, to where leadership should understand that in order to have a sustainable, thriving mechanism of a restaurant, you need invest in individuals,” he said. 

He quotes St. Thomas Aquinas: “It’s better to illuminate than to merely shine, to deliver to others contemplated truths than to merely contemplate.” Illuminating the talents of the entire team at the restaurant is one of his goals in his new role. 

“They’re the unsung heroes,” he said. “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. That’s what I’m trying to do here.”

He draws comparison to the geography of France and the locations of Paris, Lyon and Dijon, Paris being the city culture and Dijon being country environment, with Lyon in between.

“Homewood is about 23 miles from the city of Chicago and the country and Locavore Farm is about 23 miles from here, so I look at us as Lyon — the bridge between city and country. So, the essence of the city meets the Midwest.

The phrase that Burt said best describes the bistro is having “Midwest fare with French essence.” One of the signature items is the Martini Oysters, prepared with vermouth butter, gruyere and asiago. He suggests pairing it with a LaCroix Gratiot Picpoul De Pinet from France. Another is the steaks frites paired with the Hoopla Red Blend from Napa. 

He’s quite proud of the wine by the glass menu and the signature cocktail offerings. His favorite cocktails 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 tea infused vodka, Cointreau, Lillet Rouge and lime) and the Maline (Tequila, Chambord, ginger beer and lime).

Other menu highlights include the Marvelous First Course of Fruit and Cheese and Charcuterie; the La Voute Burger, an Angus burger with gruyere carmelized onion, gruyere creme fraiche; the fried chicken thigh sandwich and a pan-seared salmon with orzo, seasonal vegetables and lemon beurre blanc. Parisian gnocchi is made on-site and featured in two popular dishes. Desserts are house made, with the exception of gelato from Zarlengo’s in Chicago Heights. “I’d put them up against gelato I’ve had in Rome or Venice or Paris,” he said. 

La Voute, 2034 Ridge Road in Homewood, is currently open for lunch on Friday and Saturday from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m., dinner from 4 to 9 p.m. on Thursday and Sunday and 4 to 10 p.m. on Friday and Saturday and brunch on Sunday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Call  (708) 798-6000 or visit lavoutebistro.com to make reservations. 

News by email

Please enable JavaScript in your browser to complete this form.

Free weekly newsletter

Please enable JavaScript in your browser to complete this form.
Most read stories this week