Le Coucou, NYC

August 23, 2016

Daniel Rose, originally from Chicago, worked and learned for six years in various restaurants in France. In 2006 he opened Spring, a small, successful restaurant in Paris. In June 2016 he opened Le Coucou in New York in association with Philadelphia restaurant entrepreneur Stephan Starr. Karyn and Blair joined Linda and me there a month later on July 27, 2016 to celebrate my birthday.

We were seated next to the windows near the front door with a view through the main dining room toward the open kitchen with its busy cooks.
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The red-headed top chef had a position near the plating station checking dishes en route to the dining room.

We started with a bottle of 2009 Agrapart & Fils, “L’Avizoise”, Grand Cru, Champagne. This was really good, a bit toasty, some dry fruit, elegant.
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We made our choices from the menu, which was à la carte only with seven courses in each of three categories, plus dessert. 

The bread basket arrived with a little dish of mangalista lardo and one of butter.
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Very good bread.

We ordered a bottle of Paul Pernot 1er Cru ‘Clos des Foliatières’ Puligny-Montrachet and a bottle of 1996 Albert Morot Beaune-Teurons 1er Cru.  The first was rich and good. Blair said that it “screamed white Burgundy at you.” The second was nice, but a bit disappointing. It had a nice pinot noir flavor, but coated the mouth with tannin, which was surprising for its age.
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Karyn’s “hors d’œuvres” course was
Huitres tièdes, beurre aux algues
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Lightly cooked oysters and rich, warm butter with herbs and seaweed.

Linda had
Asperges et thon, vinaigre fumé
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The big eye tuna was very good, as were the spears of asparagus. The many thin slices of asparagus had less taste.

Blair’s was
Salade de tomates et petit pois rafraîchis aux fraises 
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This salad was described as being of tomatoes and peas refreshed with strawberries. Blair wrote that if there were peas in the dish, they must have been in the purée; is it possible they used orange peas? The purée also had a concentrated strawberry flavor.

Mine was
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This was excellent. The leek sections had been braised until tender, but not flabby. They were dressed with toasted hazelnuts which were a perfect taste and textural combination.

Karyn’s Gourmandises course was
Fleurs de courgettes farcies
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The squash blossoms were delicately stuffed with lobster and yogurt. The mint and dill added fresh flavors.

Linda and Blair had
Quenelle de brochet, sauce américaine
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The pike quenelle and lobster sauce were so successful that Linda imagined herself at Jo Rostang’s La Bonne Auberge in its three-star days.  Bravo! Blair said that the quenelle was larger than he has typically had and was very well prepared. The sauce had a concentrated shellfish flavor.

I had
Caille frite “bourse et la vie”
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I found this fried quail disappointing, although I do not know what I was expecting. I guess that in ordering it I wanted to find out. The herb butter and lemon confiture added some moisture and spark to the somewhat dry and bland quail meat.
Karyn and Linda also had the quail for their main course. Linda thought this preparation was an interesting new way to serve quail and that it served as a good main course, lighter than the listed main course options.  Karyn wrote that she enjoyed the combination of the crisp quail with the lemony, slightly melted herb butter.

Blair had
Canard et cerises
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The duck was very well prepared, most likely sous vide to rare, and then seared for a crunchy exterior. The cherries were juicy, sweet and tart and offset the richness of the foie gras rectangle. Excellent! In the bottom right was a duck heart that had been seared.

I had
Côtes d’agneau de colorado, aubergines, tomates farcies
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The two thick succulent lamb chops were top quality with a good flavor. The rack was perfectly cooked so its chops were pink on one side and browned on the other. The traditional garnishes included eggplants and tomatoes stuffed with lamb shoulder and chard.

Linda’s dessert was
Chiboust à la vanille
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This warm, light blend of crème patisserie and meringue worked very well with the cherries in a red wine sauce under it. 

Blair’s was
Mousse au chocolat
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The mound of chocolate mousse was, as you would expect, rich and airy.  It was topped with shards of rich dark chocolate.

Karyn and I had
Riz au lait coucou
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The rice pudding was garnished with raisins, pistachios and chartreuse. Mine came with a birthday candle.

There were very good mignardises.
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The cuisine was very enjoyable. Most of the creations were authentically based on traditional French dishes, but some were modern, ingredient-based. The kitchen techniques were well thought out and executed.

The ambiance, however, did not go with the cuisine. The large crowd of New York diners having a good time were very loud and the acoustics reverberating. The subway passes right underneath. The dress was mostly mid-summer casual. It was hard for the efficient servers to convey any sense of graciousness in this ambiance. But I would try it again when there is less need to have an audible conversation. The three-part rabbit dish looks intriguing.



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