110 Thompson St (between Prince St and Spring St, SoHo)
Fatty Kat Eats: Foie Gras with Leek and Roasted Pepper, Champignons Farcis, Salade de Legumes Croquants, Joues de Porc, Boeuf, Tarte au The Vert, Panna Cotta
Happy New Year, Fatties! New year, new appetite, and we started the year off right at Cocotte! This little known Basque tapas restaurant is tucked under a bunch of apartments and easily goes unnoticed. The restaurant is sexy, charming and ridiculously friendly...yes, so not French.
Fun fact: "cocotte" is French for 2 things: 1) a small baking dish with handles and 2) a prostitute. Since Cocotte seemed like a reputable establishment, I wasn't too worried. It was the perfect place for a warm and casual meal with unpretentious food and service.
In my thorough pre-meal iPhone Yelp research, I learned about the Champignons Farcis, which is a fancy way to say mushrooms stuffed with chorizo and garlic. Stuffed mushrooms are great to begin with, and even the ones stuffed with crappy breadcrumbs aren't so bad (bye bye blogger cred). So when you add real ingredients like chorizo and garlic into the mix, it becomes a whole different thing. These little guys were delicious although not life-changing.
The tables were so close that we were almost hugging the couple next to us, but that's how we learned about this off-the-menu special, Foie Gras with Leek and Roasted Pepper. I've never had foie gras this way, nor fathomed it could be so delicious chilled and with such savory ingredients, but this beauty was a surprise. Thankfully there were a few slices of country bread to clean up the plate.
Sometimes I hate when food is too cute, but I also have no problem doing what I do best with my fork. The Salade de Legumes Croquants was one of my latest victims. There were lots of beauties in this little jar, including snow peas, carrots, tomatoes and microgreens. The balsamic dressing was hardly noticeable, which allowed the true veggie flavors to shine through. No need to look away from the food porn. :)
Cheeks so squishy we could eat them…and we did! The Joues de Porc was easily one of my favorite dishes of the night. These braised pork cheeks were so juicy, fatty and melt-in-your-mouth delicious. We only discovered the sliced potatoes after the pork disappeared. They lined the bottom of the cocotte and soaked up all the incredible meaty flavors.
Not exactly what I pictured a fish dish looking like, but sure, why not? The Brandade d'Espelette was more of a salted fish potato mash than "fish and mashed potatoes." Regardless, it was good; not great, but definitely interesting and different.
The Boeuf looked questionably dull but tasted amazing. Any time steak, mushrooms and red wine come together, drooling and good times are likely involved as well. The red wine sauce perfectly glazed each tender piece of hanger steak with smoky and sweet flavors. This stuff is what I eat in my dreams. And yes, most of my dreams involve food.
The world wide web of Yelpers told me to try the Chou-fleur. Sorry to say, but I wasn't very impressed. I'm obsessed with cauliflower, but even a boatload of bechamel couldn't take this to the next level. Don't get me wrong, a cauliflower and cheese gratin can NEVER go wrong. I just thought this could be something more.
I really didn't expect much from the dessert menu, which was simply 3 tarts: lemon, chocolate and green tea. It's like they weren't really trying on the desserts. Wrong. So wrong. We loved the Tarte au The Vert. The pastry was impossibly thin and avoided the typical American pitfall, an overwhelmingly thick and dense crust. Big thumbs up for the light and nutty green tea custard!
And because we weren't stuffed enough, we tried the dessert du jour: Panna Cotta. This was more of a strawberries and cream, but it tasted so damn good that they can call it whatever they want. Our lovely server described the crunchy bits as a crushed nougat. I just wish there was more of it. Get in mah belly!
We loved this place. From the ambient lighting to the chalkboard paint, we were clueless as to why this place wasn't packed on a Saturday night. For selfish reason, I'd like Cocotte to stay that way. All the patrons seem to be regulars from the hood, and I love that. Sign me up!