Local Food. You really get to know a city by tasting local food.
New York – restaurants change by the minute in the Big Apple; fortunately my 212 friends are unabashed foodies thus my Journeys result in nightly expeditions to the latest hottest Dining Temples.
My Parisian visits to the petite restaurants of Spring (recently closed), Chez La Vieille, and La Bourse et La Vie owned by American Chef Daniel Rose, created a passion for dining at Le Coucou in New York, his latest foodie emporium. After seventeen years in Paris, this new restaurant is his exciting debut in New York. Inviting my dear friends, including David Tanis, is probably why I obtained the best seat in the restaurant. We passed by Clive Davis to our table, the best table in the house…Clive, with white napkin tucked into his collar, gave us the up and down once over of who are they? Who knew David Tanis was King of New York?
Le Coucou, which opened a little less than a year ago, was named Best New Restaurant this year at the James Beard Foundation’s annual award ceremony in Chicago. Le Coucou is a fancy French restaurant – refined French fare emphasized by crisp white tablecloths, every table is accented with a flickering single taper candle, dripping ever so slowly; the menu is bursting with complicated French dishes with names you might not always recognize, dishes served out of gleaming copper pots, by suit wearing waiters. Can you visualize the scene? Having a famed Chef as a guest, immensely helps menu translation…why wouldn’t you want to order the fried veal head, it looks like it is sublimely prepared as such…David can make poetry out of a turnip.
Our picture-perfect table right by the spectacular performance kitchen was engrossing theatre – shelves stacked with all sizes of copper pans, numerous chefs all wearing skyscraper white toques, without any sense of awkwardness, balancing pots and tilting spoons as gracefully as in a ballet. It’s a French restaurant after all!
Initially, I was taken back by the restaurant size, although the darkly lit bar is very cozy with deep silk covered sofas, Daniel Roses’ restaurants in Paris barely seat 22 patrons, cozy conversation next to another diner is almost unavoidable. Last November when I supped at La Bourse et La Vie, my table neighbors shared their veal stew..when they arrived, the Champagne hinted at a celebration and although I lack any knowledge of French, it rapidly appeared that she was breaking up with the handsome man from Spain…he did invite me to an art event in Paris the next day. Le Coucou is massive and apparently serves over 500 plates an evening, not quite as intimate, but certainly gorgeous and dazzling.
The walls are decorated in typically French pastoral murals depicting scenes of 18th Century landscapes, sparkling chandeliers dangle from above, a few original exposed brick walls are evident and the tables are laden with layers of glass and flatware, perfectly positioned on stiffly starched white tablecloths.
Le Coucou: Breakfast. Lunch dinner. 138 Lafayette St, New York,
And then the menu: DINNER
Huîtres, granité aux algues
oysters, seaweed ice
Limande rouge au caviar
fluke, cucumbers, American sturgeon caviar
leeks, hazelnuts ( Highly recommend!)
Crêpe “souvenir de Lannilis”
crab, buckwheat, lime
Joues de boeuf en gelée au foie gras
beef cheek and foie gras terrine, sherry vinaigrette
Raie au poivron et câpres
poached skate, capers, sweet pepper vinaigrette
Tomate farcie au thon
tomato stuffed with tuna, olives and herbs ( (Yummy!)
Salade de homard, sauce lauris
lobster tail, basil, tomato, sauce lauris ( Loved by all!)
Langue de veau au caviar américain
veal tongue, golden ossetra caviar, crème fraîche
Ris de veau a l’estragon
sweetbreads, crème de tomate, tarragon
Crépinette de volaille aux foie gras et fruits ( Excellent!)
chicken and foie gras, roasted plum
Quenelle de brochet, sauce américaine
pike quenelle, lobster sauce
POISSONS ET VIANDES
Halibut, beurre blanc
daikon prepared as choucroute
Navarin de Lotte
monkfish, mussel broth, summer vegetables ( Loved by Barbara!)
dover sole, grapes, champignons ( Loved by Gwen!)
Tout le lapin
all of the rabbit ( adored by David!)
Pigeon et homard
grilled squab, fricassé of lobster and squab bits, potato purée
Canard et cerises
duck, cherries, foie gras, black olives ( Stuart says yes!)
*Côte d’agneau grillé, collier braisée à la tomate**
Colorado lamb with steamed eggplant, neck braised with tomatoes
Filet de boeuf, jus à la moelle, queue dans la boulangère
prime filet, bone marrow jus, oxtail potatoes
Divine, it’s not Paris, but the Fancy French Fare translates in New York.