Feb 27, 200911:04 AM
Haute Plates

Our weekly blog on the New Orleans fine dining scene

A New Flavor, A New Read

Jay Forman

Coquette

Newcomer Coquette has moved into the space formerly occupied by Takumi at the corner of Magazine and Washington and it is already winning fans over with its intelligent cuisine. Chef Michael Stoltzfus hails from Restaurant August and it shows on the menu, which is primarily rooted in bistro-style fare, but gets personalized through local ingredients and careful flourishes using top-shelf imports (Allan Benton pork products, for example). Open for lunch and dinner, the menu is evenly split between small and large plates, and diners can cobble together a meal from any combination thereof.

Good choices include his Pumpkin Cappelletti. The stuffed pasta comes tossed with shreds of duck confit in a rich jus brightened up with the addition of fresh orange. The Pork Rillette, made from unctuous pork belly and served with cornichons, sour cherries and Dijon mustard, is tasty and easily shared, though the silky texture was more akin to a paté than a rillette. Charred Oysters on the Halfshell benefits from the goodness of pig as well, with the inclusion of Benton’s Country ham. Additionally, I really enjoyed the Crabcake, which gained complexity from some bitter endive and gets rounded out with aioli (but no pork with this one).

The cocktails here are also are a big draw, as Coquette rides the current wave of the boutique cocktail obsession. Along with classics like the Sazerac, you’ll find neat options like La Reve, a potent concoction of G’Vine Gin, elderflower liqueur, absinthe, Chartreuse, and lime.

Though it hasn’t been around long, there are already signs that it is becoming embraced by the neighborhood. Return visits are common, suggesting that it is finding its legs. Takumi’s cuisine was somewhat odd and confused, so it is nice to see a more grounded dining experience that can anchor and encourage further revitalization of this Garden District intersection. The complimentary off-street parking available alongside the restaurant is also a plus.

Books

On the literary scene, fans of the Crescent City Farmers Market will be excited to hear about the release of The Crescent City Farmers Market Cookbook, available in bookstores and at the Farmers Market starting February 28th. On March 12 there will be an official throwdown with a book signing by writer and editor Poppy Tooker, along with the renowned Alice Waters of Chez Panisse, who penned the forward and will serve as the evening’s honorary chair. The party will be held from 7-9 p.m. at Tulane University Square. For hardcore locavores, there will be a Patron Party at 6 p.m. featuring cocktails and conversation with Ms. Waters, along with copies of the cookbook. For more details and info on ticket prices, visit the website www.crescentcityfarmersmarket.org or call 504.861.4485.

Also, speaking of cookbooks and locally-grown businesses, a neat place to visit is Kitchen Witch at 631 Toulouse Street in the Quarter; this little bookshop is the perfect nexus of these two things. Spend some time perusing the extensive (and eclectic) collection of cookbooks, music and art. Chances are you’ll find something you remember from being a kid, or else something utterly enticing and brand new.


Coquette
2800 Magazine Street
NOLA 70115

Kitchen Witch
631 Toulouse St.
528-8382
www.kwcookbooks.com


 

Reader Comments:
May 6, 2009 11:57 am
 Posted by  molly d.

The Belle Flour @ Coquette was a refreshing little cocktail; the bar is comfortable enough for a solo diner to enjoy a meal without feeling cramped.

May 6, 2009 11:58 am
 Posted by  molly d.

Belle Fleur, rather.

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Haute Plates

Our weekly blog on the New Orleans fine dining scene

about

Robert D. Peyton was born at Ochsner Hospital and, apart from four years in Tennessee for college and three years in Baton Rouge for law school, has lived here his entire life. He is a strong believer in the importance of food to our local culture and in the importance of our local food culture, generally. He has practiced law since 1994, and began writing about food on his website, www.appetites.us, in 1999. He mainly wrote about partying that year, obviously.

In 2006, New Orleans Magazine named Appetites the best food blog in New Orleans. The choice was made relatively easy due to the fact that Appetites was, at the time, the only food blog in New Orleans.

He began writing the Restaurant Insider column for New Orleans Magazine in 2007 and has been published in St. Charles Avenue, Louisiana Life and New Orleans Homes and Lifestyles magazines. He is the only person he knows personally who has been interviewed in GQ magazine, albeit for calling Alan Richman a nasty name. He is not proud of that, incidentally. (Yes, he is.)

Robert’s maternal grandmother is responsible for his love of good food, and he has never since had fried chicken or homemade biscuits as good as hers. He developed his curiosity about restaurant cooking in part from the venerable PBS cooking show "Great Chefs" and has an extensive collection of cookbooks, many of which do not require coloring, and some of which have not been defaced.

Robert lives in Mid-City with his wife Eve and their three children, and is fond of receiving comments and emails. Please humor him.

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