In fact, I hadn’t been to Le Coq Au Vin in quite a few years. And when I say quite a few, I mean many, many years. Ok, fine, I was an angst-ridden teen last time I was there. I’ve thought often about going back, but as an adult was no longer scared by the possibility of bunny on my plate, but more by the possibility of spending an amount of money equivalent to my electricity bill.
So, with the ringing of the Magical Dining Month in my ears, I got a group of girls together to get gussied up and go eat some French food!
Considering I hadn’t been to Le Coq Au Vin in some time, I don’t think too terribly much has changed. Located in an odd location on Orange Ave. just south of Gatlin, the ambiance is quite unique and rather homey. Thoughtfully we had made reservations-the restaurant was absolutely slamming for a Sunday evening.
I started my three-course prix fixe ($29) dinner with the Tarte a L’ Oignon. (Here’s the other thing-while I even speak extensively about French wines, I often have to look up pronunciations. Growing up in Florida, I figured the key language to focus on in school was Spanish.)
Oh My Goodness. This was delicious. The Alsace style tart consisted of a bedding of puff pastry topped with caramelized onions, bacon, and goat and Boursin cheeses. When it comes to the region of Alsace (in northeast France, right on the Germany border) I feel very comfortable talking about their wines-highly regarded Pinot Gris, Gewurtztraminer and Riesling. (Also, FYI, the Lucien Albrecht Pinot Blanc has become a recent fav amongst my friends and I.) Plus, both my boss and another co-chef are from the region and I never fail to see the pride in their eyes when they speak of their hometown. I digress-point being-the tart was absolutely perfect with it’s buttery crust, sweet onions and herby cheese. Honestly, I plan on having this dish again! Soon!
For my second course I choose the Tournedos-seared beef tenderloin topped with crabmeat and a Béarnaise sauce. (Yep, I decided against the signature dish-really, the best Coq Au Vin I’ve had was in Paris.) The entrée was fantastic-perfectly cooked meat with one of the best Béarnaise I’ve had. It was served with a potato pancake that was unusual and tasty with large chunks of potatoes. The two other sides were perfectly cooked carrots and haricot verts.
Lastly, for dessert, I went against my instincts and got the Tarte ala Rhubarbe. I know that I’ve mentioned my Grandmother on this site-and what a fantastic chef she is. But I think I’ve left out her Rhubarb torte. We have it every summer when I go to Ohio to visit. And, quite frankly, there’s nothing like the fresh rhubarb from Ohio. So, while I was expecting the sour/tangy/sweetness of the rhubarb torte that I’m used to, I instead tasted a very blend and boring dessert. The only saving grace was a summery and creamy coconut ice cream. I’ll give my Grandma a call in the next few days and get her recipe-it literally runs circles around the one at Le Coq Au Vin.
As far as the wine list-I have to admit I was also disappointed. I was looking forward to sampling some hard to find French wines-but rather found a mundane list that had more American wines than French.
All in all I had a perfect time. The food was absolutely fantastic. And I also have to say that I think I’ve finally broken down my preconceptions of French food. Maybe it’s the culinary and life experience, but the menu no longer intimidates me. Although, thank goodness I had a high school French teacher with me to help with pronunciations!
PS For kicks and giggles-here's a pix of me in Paris eating Coq Au Vin. Sorry it's oddly small, I had to scan it and couldn't figure out how to enlarge it....