Steps away from critical darling Gramercy Tavern and one block away from Cosme, Craft and ABC Kitchen, newcomer French bistro Le Coq Rico has some stiff culinary competition in Flatiron. But Chef Antoine Westermann, executive chef and proprietor of Le Coq Rico, is definitely up for the challenge, having earning his place in France’s culinary history with Le Buerehiese, a three-star Michelin restaurant in Strasbourg.
Westermann’s first Manhattan establishment revolves primarily around poultry and large-format dishes, which range from guinea fowl to duck and Cornish game hen. While the offerings are prepared with French sauces and ingredients, many of them have unique, eclectic twists that give it a local flavor. (Look no further than the section of the menu called “Eggz,” which features creative pairings of egg with sauces and veggies.)
One of the most impressive parts about the restaurant aside from the food is the open air kitchen, which Chef Westermann oversees himself. The area is flanked with bar seats, so you can watch as the food is prepped and garnished. If you can, try to sit along the kitchen bar so you can watch the impeccably-trained staff dole out your dishes. Additionally, the staff—from the waiters to the bussers—are exceptionally well trained, which is just the cherry on top of the experience.
Here are some of the (many) menu highlights:
Fried & Crusty Egg
A fried egg battered and slightly crispy, paired with tender green asparagus and a “vierge” sauce, made from basil, olive oil, lemon and chopped tomato. Perfect ratio of acid to veggie to richness from the egg yolk.
Quarter Chicken with Seasonal Salad
There’s really nothing that could be better about this dish. The crisped skin is prepared perfectly, the meat is tender and flavorful, and the accompanying au jus (drippings rendered throughout the cooking process) heightens the salty, rich taste of every bite.
Catskill Guinea Fowl
Baked in a crust of almonds and exotic spices, this dish is the perfect option for someone who wants to go a bit out of their comfort zone without completely veering off course. The dish is served with asparagus and a touch of citrus to balance this gamier meat.
Thick Cut Fries
Far fluffier than your average fry, and with a killer crunch, they’re an ideal palette cleanser between bites of your entrée. If you get the chicken, dip the fries in the au jus for some added flavor.
Dark Chocolate Sorbet
We’d never thought of chocolate as a sorbet variation (always just an ice cream flavor), but we’ve clearly been missing out. The sorbet allows rich, potent notes of chocolate to come through unmarred by cream or additional sugars. Sweet and tart, with a hint of spice, this is an idyllic meal-ending bite.
The verdict: It’s pretty impressive that a 3-Michelin star chef has opened a relaxed French bistro that seems to perfectly toe the line between elegant and approachable. The veggie options are limited, which is something to consider if that’s your dietary beat. But for omnivores, it is definitely worth a trip.
Le Coq Rico, 30 E. 20th St.
Images courtesy of Grub Street
Article by Michaela Rollings