Le Coq Rico - Chicken Better Than Steak
Before veganism and health fads, there was red meat. Old timers would treat each other to steak dinners. Even I had the bias that steaks, which really do cost more, are better than chicken. But not at Le Coq Rico. They serve the best (fancy, not fried) chicken I've ever had. This was a few weeks ago, and we had just come from the US Open. I was in white Cole Haan boat shoes and a plain blue shirt dress, and the host definitely gave me the eye. I hate that, which is why I'm usually overdressed rather than underdressed. Little did he know that most of the tables that night would be filled with sweaty people coming straight from the games. However, I do have to say that I understand his cattiness, because the place is wonderful. Mostly grays, blacks, with a lot of height and space. The place is sleek. Moving on, the server was a sweetheart, and he explained that all of the cooks trained and worked in the original restaurant in France before coming to the NY location. Three-star Michelin Chef Westermann is the talent behind this venture. So we started with cocktails. I had the frenchie Bellini, with peach and lavender flavors. Sparkling always does the trick for me, especially after sitting out in the sun for hours. For the appetizers, we had the offal platter, $16, that included liver, apple and heart brochette, glaced wings, roast chicken liver on horseradish toast, and spiced croquettes. I found them quite good, even though I'm not a fan of the odd parts. They usually have funny textures and aftertastes, but these were so well cooked that only the good flavors shone through. My companions who are sweetbreads fans said they were wonderful. We also had the seared duck foie with honey crisp apple, cherry vinegar reduction and almonds, $33. Loved it! Every time I have foie gras, I experience the duality of being in savory heaven and also that bittersweet guilt over the torture the poor duckies endure to produce plump livers. I'm so sorry duckies! For the entree, we had Westermann's Baeckeoffe, $130, good for two to four people, which was a whole chicken from Brune Landaise, aged 110 days, baked in traditional Alsatian earthenware with artichokes, potatoes, tomatoes & riesling jus. Sheer perfection. The meld of flavors from the tomatoes, Riesling, and artichokes produced a sauce that was full of that wonderful chicken flavor with a bit of sweetness. Fantastic! Dining is always more fun when your companions are friends you've known for a long time. You know each other's food preferences, and you're not afraid to get sauce on your shirt. My dining companions of the night were my buddies, and they let me order the mixed mushroom fricassee, $15, for the sides. Again, perfectly seasoned, where the taste of the mushrooms was highlighted. For dessert, we had the best profiteroles, $13, I've had thus far in the city. The chocolate was not too bitter, not too sweet. And they poured it all over the profiteroles! Yum! We also ordered the i'ile flottante (floating island), $12, made of soft meringue, red praline, and green anglaise. Pretty, but the profiteroles far outshone this dish. But for the hiccup with the host, we had a wonderful time. Including the $60 wine we had, the check came out to $314 for three people. We can't wait to head back for the duck and the rotisserie!