Given the limited selection of French restaurants in the area, a follow-up visit to La Vigne seemed a fitting choice for lunch with friends on Bastille Day. Unfortunately, my impression of La Vigne has not changed much since our initial visit last summer. In fact, the experience was so similar – flubs with service, disappointing food, and lots of empty tables – that to detail my experience at lunch would sound like plagiarism of Rob's review.
Instead I'd like to point out my own pet peeve with La Vigne, which Rob touched on briefly in his review, which is the lack of authentic ambience and culture. As a once-fluent French speaker and an interior designer, these facets of a dining experience for me weigh equally with the quality of food and service. In addition, the French are fiercely protective of their language and culture, so it's particularly disappointing that this French restaurant fails to capture either.
The decor of southern France does sometimes include heavy stone walls and iron gates, but these adornments to La Vigne's generic strip-mall location could be improved upon with some truly French touches. May I suggest some traditional Provençal fabrics? Or some rustic turned-wood chairs, instead of that corporate lobby-looking furniture? Maybe a couple of live lavender plants?
Perhaps the staff could have a brief training on the French language, or at least on the few words which are relevant in this case. One of the hostesses consistently mispronounces the name of the restaurant. I know the "gne" combo can be difficult to pronounce, so I'd love to suggest that using the last name of a certain pop star, Avril, might be closer, or maybe the name of the town on the southwestern outskirts of Phoenix. When asked what the vin du jour (wine of the day) would be, as advertised in French on the specials leaflet, our server corrected me, "You mean the vin?," which he pronounced like "bin." Sure. Whatever gets me a glass of fermented grape juice.
La Vigne is celebrating their one-year anniversary. I had hoped after our visit last year that it would improved over time, but unfortunately it's more like plus de la même chose – more of the same thing.