It’s Saturday brunch, and we’re perched like hungry little hens in the window of Le Coq Rico. Me, appropriately in feathers. They call Le Coq Rico “the bistro of beautiful birds,” but the ones they’re referring to are over our shoulder behind the kitchen line – a glorious, glowing row of rotisserie – shiny and golden-crusted.
But let’s start at the beginning. General Manager Maxime Heitz is our lead on this journey and he sets a great course. He’s also French, which continues a dining trend we embrace wholeheartedly. Both hot and hospitable. Maxime shares some of Le Coq Rico’s history from the fact that the original LCR is located in Monmartre in Paris and Michelin star Chef Antoine Westermann incorporates local terroir wherever possible to the flavors of the restaurant’s wild and “noble” birds through to the vegetables. It’s worth noting that when he opened this NYC outpost, Westermann swiped left on a lot of good looking birds (as you do in NYC). It took a year for him to find the Northeast farm to match his philosophy toward fowl-rearing. And, the proof is in the poultry (sorry, we had to).
When the bread hit the table we start coo-ing. Mostly me…still in feathers. It’s housemade and warm and everything you could ever want in a baguette. You wouldn’t even know it was baked outside of France. It was followed by an intensely flavorful Eggplant Hummus with steamed vegetables and a lemon confit dressing. The Leeks Vinaigrette arrived draped in a luxurious hollandaise – and didn’t last long.
For the second course, the Coq Rico Poultry Burger came complete with seared duck foie, caramelized pineapple and pineapple chutney, a side of perfectly crisped, thick-cut Russett Potato fries, in addition to the Brune Landaise (finally – the bird!) hit our table. It was poached and roasted, glistening in au jus! In French, window shopping is called lécher les vitrines, or to “lick” the windows. There’s never a more true idiom than when you’re feasting on chicken in the window seat of Le Coq Rico.
For dessert, Shane’s mom joined us in need of some post-shopping sugar rush and Maxime had the profiterole solution. Chocolate puff pastry, chocolate ice cream, warm chocolate coulis, and almond and hazelnut praline, “100% chocolate” is in the name, and it’s their game. We could see our reflections – and our futures – in the shiny chocolate glazed pate a choux: We would return.
As we headed toward the door, past the trophey line of coqs and tables of smiling guests, a member of the team called for me, “Mademoiselle, Mademoiselle!!” As I turned around, he placed a big bag of French baguettes in my hand. “A souvenir!” he said thoughtfully, and we all leaned in to warm our faces in the freshly baked smell of sour dough and yeast and crunch and crust and the memory of the best chicken we’ve ever had.