Le Coucou: 5/31/17


#1

Best meal of my NYC trip. Hands down.

Really well balanced strawberry/rhubarb mocktail, fresh bread baked at Roberta’s in Brooklyn, and creamy butter from Vermont. Great way to start.

Anguille frite au sarrasin: buckwheat fried Montauk eel, vinaigrette au curry

Came out piping hot, crust thin and crisp. Eel was fall-apart tender and worked beautifully when I was able to compose a “perfect bite” – bit of eel with some sauce, herbs, cucumbers, and citrus. Very strong start.

Crépinette de volaille au foie gras et fruits
chicken and foie gras, roasted pineapple, pommes purée

Tender, juicy, and unctuous. Again, a dish where all of the components are just begging to be consumed proportionately and harmoniously. Pineapple served as a nice foil to the richness of the dish. Glad that gave me a spoon as I scooped up every single bit of the sauce drizzled potatoes left on the dish.

Tarte au Citron

Just nailed it. Filling smooth and supple with the right balance of sweet and tart. Pastry was flaky and tender. Even the cream was on point.

Some vanilla cookies and raspberry/coconut chocolates.

The room was gorge. My eyes popped out when I walked in, gazing at the beauty of it all. Service was thoughtful and all smiles. If only I didn’t live thousands of miles away. Fantastic experience and worth repeating.


#2

Great pics from the trip and nice reports. High praise for Le Coucou if that was the best meal of your NYC trip. I know its not exactly the same but how would you compare Le Coucou to either Trois Mec or Petit Trois?


#3

Very good question! Petit Trois is way more casual in terms of atmosphere and service, and the food is certainly more “rustic” for lack of a better word. Le Coucou is most assuredly a fine dining establishment. The food at Le Coucou was executed with a high level of technique and precision. Not to say Petit Trois is devoid of technique - I do think Petit Trois’ food is more “stick to your ribs” and utilitarian in terms of the type of satisfaction it provides. I was feeling more “oohs and ahhs” at Le Coucou.

I’ve been to Trois Mec twice. I just think the food there is weird and cerebral. Le Coucou was not weird at all. Very soulful with a classical feel.


#4

Seems like a fair assessment. Will definitely add Le Coucou to my NYC list.


#5

I enjoyed Le Coucou this past weekend as well. Great place from start to finish. I went for brunch but the lunch and dinner menu is more interesting. I must return for the Tout le Lapin or pot au feu du lapin with foie


#6

I would love to go back and try some of the other dishes on the menu. Looks like you had some wonderful eats according to your post! I was almost going to have lunch at the lounge at Le Bernardin yesterday. But I saw an available reservation for Le Coucou on OpenTable. Very pleased with my decision.


#7

You did right. Liked Le Coucou very much. Didn’t care for Le Bernardin much - it’s not bad of course, but it has a different feel and I don’t see 3* at all, especially when Le Coucou has 0. No way. Le Bernardin is more like 1, maybe 2* at best IMO and it feels a little corporate. I think Providence in LA is better. You made the right choice for sure with Le Coucou - cool space, great food, and all around fun.


#8

The ““tout le lapin” (or rabbit 3-ways) at Le Coucou was one of my favorite meals this year.


#9

My last meal at Le Bernardin will be my last. It is not what it once was. High end tourist trap/cross-it-off- my- bucket-list place these days.


#10

FTC’ers is Le Bernadin really that bad? Been a fan of Ripert for many years but never got a chance to dine at any of his restaurants. Was planning a visit to Le Bernadin this summer - but all of you seem to be unanimously thumbs down.


#11

I went once about two years ago - had lunch solo in the lounge. I had the regular three course lunch option. I had the much ballyhooed pounded tuna/foie gras dish. It was pretty, but both of the main ingredients seemed somewhat muted. For my main, I had the striped bass with green papaya salad. The cook on the fish was so damned spot on that I was already contemplating a return visit in my mind. I have totally forgotten what I ordered for dessert. Again, it was very pretty, but forgettable. I recall that the bread service and rillettes at the beginning of the meal were outstanding.

I really wanted to come back based on the quality and enjoyment of that bass, and the fact that so many of the menu items posted online look very enticing. As I write this, I don’t think I had as good of a meal as I might have anticipated. And probably not as good as one might expect considering the accolades and reputation. It wasn’t a bad meal by any stretch of the imagination. Not as much “wow” as I thought I was going to get. Truth be told, I feel that César Ramírez does seafood in a much more spectacular way.


#12

I dunno if “bad” it the right way to describe LeB.

It just reminds me of the equivalent of Melisse in LA. Tired.

For the best seafood in Manhattan these days, I’d go to Gloria (opened by former Contra alums).


#13

It’s not bad per se, just “nice.” Reminds me of 1*, not 3*. I was a bit disappointed, relative to its reputation. A bit stolid, reminiscent of The French Laundry. To be fair, I went for lunch, but no dish had the interest or clarity that one would expect. Again the food is nice, but if you’re visiting NY, I assume there’s limited days and the opportunity cost in NY is high.


#14

Ditto @ipsedixit and @BradFord - it is not at all bad. You’ve never been before - I am sure you will enjoy it. 30 years ago they were breaking new ground (Ripert wasn’t even the chef then) and making NYer’s heads spin. Now they coast on that - and a whole lot of subsequent Bourdain/Ripert related TV - fame.

Nothing much changes, so I have no need to go back.

But I would not discourage a first-timer unless that first-timer is mainly looking for food value (you could eat much more cutting edge and/or delicious food for less, elsewhere). But the value of a restaurant is more than just food. At Le Bernardin you will pay a whole lot for the experience and “privilege” of eating there. If that is of value to you…go! And report back!!


#15

@djquinnc @ipsedixit @BradFord @CiaoBob thank you very much for your respective responses. I think I have an idea of what to expect given your descriptions - high level of cooking but dated/boring … sigh… I may visit just to check the box but at least will enter with tempered expectations.

Thanks for the Gloria and Cesar Ramirez recs.