A Coquette-ish Christmas

So it wasn’t actually Christmas, it was the eve before Christmas Eve…er…actually…it was the afternoon before Christmas Eve. It was the 23rd of December, okay? Anyhow, John and I decided we were way past due for a visit to the fairly-new restaurant, Coquette, on the corner of Washington and Magazine.

It was just like me not to make reservations, but though the corner restaurant was packed (people were even dining at the bar), it didn’t take more than 15-20 minutes before we scored a table. We ordered quickly after perusing the menu during our wait, and it wasn’t long before our food came flooding out of the kitchen.

First and foremost, I have to talk about the bread. Anytime you go out to dinner, quite often a basket of bread will be brought to the table and though filling, it isn’t always something you remember fondly about the meal. At Coquette, they serve a warm loaf of their own, house-made ciabatta that is so tasty, it will literally knock your socks off. This divine loaf is sliced and served with a sea-salt enhanced, creamy butter that John and I gobbled without reservation or concern about having enough room left over to eat what we had actually ordered.

Our appetizers arrived in soon thereafter. John chose the Market Vegetable Salad that was supposed to have included a cashew puree and navel oranges, but they served him the salad from the prix fixe lunch menu which was local greens, candied pecans, goat cheese and Dijon vinaigrette. We didn’t actually realize their mistake until John had already scarfed down more than half of the salad. We chalked it up to a happy accident since John really enjoyed what he got anyhow.

I selected the Tempura Shrimp with a garnish of sambal (chili sauce), grapefruit, nicoise olives and cilantro. The large pieces of shrimp were fried perfectly with a crispy, tasty batter. Both of us commented on the odd combination of grapefruit slices and pitted olives, but I thought it was a nice shock of contrasting flavors.

For his entree, John picked the Steak Frites, sliced pieces of rare hangar steak piled high with French fries and drizzled with a shallot vinaigrette (for the steak) and malt aioli (for the fries). His dish was so tasty that I continuously poked my fork into his plate stealing flavor-drenched fries and, on occasion, a nice hunk of steak. But, in all fairness, John was doing the same thing to me.

I ordered the Cochon de Lait, which is slow-roasted suckling pig that has been injected with Cajun seasonings and butter. The dish I had was also served with sauteed Brussels sprouts, pureed sweet potato and topped with apple marmalade. Though the meat was a tad dry, the whole dish sang when each bite was carefully composed of everything on the plate and I devoured it in no time.

Finally, we had what was likely one of the most unusual desserts I have ever eaten, Butterscotch Pudding with broken snicker doodles, bourbon and bacon ice cream. I am a huge sucker for anything Butterscotch, so it was not difficult to make my choice, but I have to admit that the bacon ice cream really struck me as being particularly delicious. Rich with a smoky flavor, it is an ice cream that, though delicious, I would not be able to eat in large quantities. Only one thing would deter me from ordering it again and that was the foam garnish on top. Maybe I will never be one to appreciate the latest fads in haute cuisine, but I will never understand foam. It recalls to mind the wickedness of my youth when salting snails in my backyard could keep me entertained for hours on end. C’est la vie!

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