Who to Take: Your knowledgable wine-loving friends or to celebrate with fellow foodies who adore new interpretations on French cuisine
There’s a certain charm and simple elegance to Le Coucou that makes it a truly outstanding spot for fine dining in Manhattan. I had been wanting to go here since it first opened, but once word got out of its magnificence it was a bit tricky scoring a reservation. Luckily, NYC in August allows things to open up a bit, and with my foodie friends Erin and Jason in from Texas, we snagged an early table reservation the day of our dinner. Woo hoo.
As soon as you enter, there’s a feeling that you will be treated to something special. I loved the soaring ceilings, the white-washed brick walls, and painterly bar area just inside the door of the space. The wines we sampled were exemplary. Luckily, Jason is pretty knowledgeable with wines and managed to find some extraordinary bottles for less than $100 from their kind of pricey wine list.
DINNER WITH SURPRISES
Chef Daniel Rose really wows with his update on classical French cuisine. Everything we ordered arrived as somewhat of a surprise, in either the presentation or with the choice of ingredients. The server guided us through the menu, and recommended a selection from each section, and we dutifully obeyed. This is not a place to order things and share. Dishes arrive beautifully styled for one, to cherish. Here’s how our dinner went…
The first course opened our palates with Fraîcheur de Homard (grilled lobster, asparagus, grapefruit) seen in the photo at the top of this post, and Huîtres, Granité aux Algues (oysters, seaweed ice) which we paired with some bubbly—a Crémant d’Alsace. This was a perfect way to begin.
It seems we couldn’t get enough lobster that day, so for the second course three of us tried the Chou Farci aux Fruits de Mer (lobster and scallop stuffed cabbage, pineau de la Loire). This was absolutely extraordinary, and quite off-the-beaten-track. A soft, steamed cabbage leaf wrapped around a tasty and light mix of seafood, and sat in a dainty sauce. Splendid! Erin ordered the Crépinette de Volaille au Foie Gras et Fruits (chicken and foie gras, roasted fruit) which was also excellent.
I love when Erin and Jason come into town. It’s an excuse to choose a spot and pull out all the stops. It’s the best way to catch up!
On to the main course! Erin and Jason ordered the Canette Sainte-Baume for Two (grilled duckling, foie gras, and figs) which arrived plated with slices of duck, plus an extra small pan of goodies.
Bob, as usual, ordered the fish. Sole Véronique (Dover sole, grapes, champignons) had a wondrous topping with a bit of sweetness from the grapes, and earthiness of the mushrooms in a lively sauce.
For my entree, I definitely hit the jackpot. Agneau de Colorado en Deux Services (grilled lamb chop with onions and mint, lamb neck braised with chard) arrived on two separate plates. This was my first taste of lamb neck, and I have to say it was sensational. Kind of like a very flavorable brisket, the meat just fell apart and melted in your mouth. (When I go back to Le Coucou, I am going to repeat the same order, it was that good.) The wine Jason chose complemented this dish perfectly.
For dessert we split a lovely Tarte Aux Fraises (raspberry tart) and (surprise) some cookies arrived on the scene.
Le Coucou, 138 Lafayette St (SW corner of Howard St)