“For my three girls, roughing it is a Holiday Inn,” was one of my dad’s favorite lines. I will gladly ‘rough it’ anytime at this restaurant which is hard to believe designer Roman + Williams transformed from a Holiday Inn.
Located on Lafayette Street (off of Canal and Howard), I knew Le Cou Cou was special from the moment I stepped foot in it. I was immediately transfixed by the elegant ambiance. There was a wonderful vibe and I was so excited to be spending my Saturday night here.
The designers used steel chandeliers, salvaged marble and reclaimed oak flooring to offset the open kitchen with hand-glazed teal tiles. The bar, meanwhile, is meant to invoke a grand manor house, with a vaulted ceiling and hand-painted mural. I could sit at that bar for hours nursing a cocktail, glass of Prosecco or wine.
Turns out the couple who secured our late night (9:30pm) reservation at this trendy, new hot spot which opened three months ago was unable to join us because they were stuck in traffic due to the Chelsea explosion. So while New Yorkers faced another September mindless terrorist act, my world was being rocked at one of my favorite new restaurants.
The hostess won’t seat you until you are a complete party and they had to scramble when I informed her that we would only be two. She told us to hold on as she tried to find us a two top. Which unfortunately meant we were stuck waiting longer.
As New York Post’s food critic Steve Cuozzo wrote, “No squeezing in as many mouths as possible! Le Coucou’s floor is easily big enough for 100. Some owners would jam in 120. But it seats a mere 80 happy gourmands.”
When we were finally seated, they tried to put us at the worst table. Scott has gotten much more picky with where he’s seated in restaurants and in this case I definitely didn’t blame him as we were about to be shelling out a few Hamiltons for our dinner. I asked if we could be moved to a different table in the back corner which they kindly explained was reserved. We were next seated at a table with a prime view of the open kitchen but also where water glasses were filled.
A few minutes later our game of “musical chairs” continued when the host told us a reservation had canceled and we could have the table we were eyeing. I am convinced we were given it after I casually mentioned to several employees that I would be blogging about the restaurant.
The good vibes returned when mangalista butter was served along side the bread. We were treated to mangalista pork the final week Union Square Café was on 16th Street and savored it so much that we did research and ordered it for New Year’s Eve.
Scott and I enjoy sharing dishes and getting to taste more items on the menu than if we each simply ordered on our own. We started with the Huitres tièdes, beurre aux algues (warmed oysters, seaweed butter) There were three oysters on a bed of sea salt which Scott mistook for rice. It was a perfect amuse bouche to wet our appetite.
Next up we ordered Quenelle de brochet, sauce américaine (pike quenelle, lobster sauce) The sauce is outrageous!
I am so happy I allowed Scott to order Crépinette de volaille aux foie gras et fruits d’été (chicken and foie gras, warm summer fruit) I have a mental block against foie gras, but I couldn’t even detect it. Instead this tasted like the world’s best sausauge. Mmmmm
Truthfully, we already had enough to eat by the time our main course arrived. (Luckily, we were splitting it which the chefs did for us in the kitchen). We debated between the halibut and the Bourride (black bass and shellfish fumet, aioli) I did not care for the bass but I am still pleased with the dish because the shellfish and sauce was scrumptious. It was served in beautiful cooper pots and our “captain” (waiter) served us at the table which was a fun show.
I couldn’t convince Scott to split a dessert with me. I did have my eye on a few. Chef Pastry Daniel Skurnick, is working on an updated version of riz au lait impératrice, the classic glazed rice dessert rarely seen these days. Thrillist advices, “Don’t miss the chocolate mousse for dessert.” At least now I have a sweet excuse to come back.
As I was leaving, I asked where the name came from. Le Coup Cou translates to “Sweetly Crazy” and can be taken two ways. First of all, we’re all a little crazy. (Ok, some more than others). Secondly, the food industry isn’t stagnant.
This also made me think of Sweet Bitter, a book about the restaurant industry, I enjoyed reading this past summer.