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.
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.
2800 Magazine Street
631 Toulouse St.