A few weeks ago my co-worker texted me a photo of a business card, asking me "Free drinks tomorrow?" Of course this is an offer I try to never refuse. So we stopped by the pre-opening of the new French bar/small plates restaurant called Cocotte around the corner from work on Thompson Street below Prince in SoHo. The petite place was jam packed with friends and neighbors the first night we went but we could still feel a good energy and were already making plans to return sometime soon.
Finally tonight, after Sandy and busy schedules, we decided to stop in for some drinks after work. What we found was a relaxed Sunday night atmosphere and stellarly flavored food. Starting with deux verres de crémant (that is to say, French sparkling wine not from Champagne) we worked our way through a couple small plates, a silky dessert and my shoddy French conversation with the gracious staff.
To begin we chose the champignons farcis - tiny mushroom caps filled with a delicate, earthy-colored chorizo stuffing and garnished with orange tomatoes. The portions are meant to be small, but they go a long way in terms of flavor. This is a good way to start a succession of assiettes at Cocotte because the savoriness of the mushrooms will have you primed to try more.
Next we allowed our server/bartender Guillaume to select a dish. As he had mentioned his fondness for the hanger steak with bordelaise and shallots, I was not surprised when it was placed in front of us. I personally love hanger steak thanks to Chef Ludo's Meatopia creation. I've cooked the cut myself at home and have had great results. A quick cooking but very flavorful piece of meat. This is done delicately so as to not overcook the beef then sauced with the bordelaise that demands to be soaked up with the fresh bread it arrives with.
Lastly, we couldn't end the night without dessert - especially after Raphael (co-creator/maitre d'-extraordinaire) brought me back to the kitchen to meet Sophie, the pastry chef (after a discussion of my macaron making) and Chef Sébastien Pourrat. We went for the made-that-day gâteau Basque. The pastry cream was smooth and the crust was salty-sweet with a gentle, sandy crumb. A great way to end a work day.
Cocotte, named for Chef Sébastien's nickname for his wife Sophie, is a warm, welcoming place for anyone looking for good wine, good food and equally good company. Francophiles and expats will feel right at home with the French-English menu and the sound of franglais in the air. I look forward to returning to Cocotte to explore the rest of the small plates, hopefully score a seat at the back-of-the-house Chef's table seats (in the most charming New York restaurant kitchen I've ever seen), and even just to stop in for a coffee or a glass of wine after work. If you generally like what I like, odds are you will love Cocotte!
110 Thompson Street (below Prince)
SoHo, New York