- joluvscards Jun 15, 2008 01:29 AM
After numerous glowing reviews on this board we finally made our way to cochon. In short we found little to recommend it and certainly will not be returning.
Upon arrival we entered into a noisy, warm dining room. The hostess told us that she was seating us under the air conditioner which was the "coolest place in the house".
Our server arrived shortly and opened our wine. Of course we couldn't hear her recital of the specials because of the noise. She was somewhat impatient when we asked her to repeat them.
We ordered and requested bread which "would be coming shortly". After two more requests we were told that it was still in the oven. When it finally arrived it was served with two microscopic balls of butter for four people. That was the highlight.
We ordered a variety of apps and entrees. Everything was oversalted. In particular, the potatoes under the chicken breast were inedible.
No one offered to pour wine and no one checked back with us during the meal. At that point we had headaches from the noise and asked for the check. No one offered to pack our half eaten dinners or even asked if there was a problem. I guess they were used to it.
Of particular note, the online menu states that they can accommodate gluten allergies. That was a hoot. When we inquired our server said that most things were gluten free, to order and she would check with the chef. So the first attempt was steak frites and we were told that they were not gluten free. Then we tried a pork dish. She again trudged back to the table telling us that wouldn't work either. There are only about 8 entrees in total. At that point we requested that she check with the chef and tell us what we could order. She looked like a deer in the headlights and proclaimed "you mean you want me to check with the chef on every item?" We said yes. She left and finally returned stating that there were only two items that we could order.
Wow, I'm really surprised. We had great food and great service there, albeit last winter. Granted, I do remember it being loud, which sadly, seems to be rule rather than the exception these days. To be honest, I don't really enjoy going to restaurants during the dog days of summer because so few run their A/C adequately to cool the room.
Just following up after our visit to Cochon on Sat. night. We were seated outside...about five tables were located outside and I have a feeling this was done to remove the tables closest to the kitchen where it can get quite hot (from what we were told by the waiter). Service was pleasant and professional although I think they could benefit from an additional waiter (esp. if they are going to seat people outside).
As for the food...very good but not outstanding. The primary problem is that it is not seasonal. I look forward to going again on a chilly fall or winter night and I think my impression would be changed. I thoroughly enjoyed my chicken livers and lamb rack. My wife's steak frites was cooked to a perfect temperature and had a nice char however the meat itself was far more chewy than it should have been, even for that cut of meat.
Just one final thought in reviewing the OP's review and the comment on the "microscopic balls of butter." For me, half a ball of butter was more than sufficient for my bread. My wife, on the other hand, likes more butter and the waiter happily obliged and brought some more. I think when things like portion size enter the equation, these become more subjective issues (see the various discussions about James - the views all seem to be skewed by perspectives of portion size) Ironically, issues of taste are likely more objective in that people can typically agree on how well-prepared food is supposed to taste. I'll stop here before I go too far into a disseration on the restaurant experience...
The bottom line for me is that I will gladly return to Cochon....in the fall.
I also have had nothing but great meals at Cochon. I can see how the AC might be a problem though, it's a small place with a lot of tables and an open kitchen. I would describe the service as average.
When you say 'No one offered to pour wine', what does that mean exactly? Do you mean they didn't offer to open it? Or that the server wasn't pouring it for you as the meal progressed? The latter is rare at BYOs in my experience.
Personally I don't like it when the server continually tops off everyone's wine during the meal, I'd rather control that myself. I have a relative or two who drink more than their fair share of the table's wine, if the server is always keeping everyone's glass equally full those people can finish off the bottle before some people even finish one glass.
Being from Central NJ I normally post on the Mid-Atlantic Board but we often go into Philly for dinner, usually at BYO's.
As some background we like places like Matyson, Radicchio, Chloe etc.
Had 8:00 reservations at Cochon after walking around First Friday for an hour or so. Parking is at a premium in the area around the restaurant, leave yourself enough time.
Arriving at 8:00 we were promptly seated. Getting the bad news out first, the air conditioning was barely keeping up, the restaurant was packed and noisy and the service was spotty although we were warned by our server that the kitchen was "well behind".
The good news is that the food was excellent and more than made up for the other problems.
We started with the Crispy Chicken Livers and Fried Oysters which were both delicious and polar opposite in flavor.
Entrees were the Pork Shoulder over Lentils and Seared Scallops over Green Pea Risotto. Both dishes were great, the chef shows great touch with meat and seafood.
Too full for dessert but finished up with coffee.
My advice to others would be: Try not to go on a 95+ degree day or if possible sit outside where the breeze is likely to be blowing.
If you have to go on Friday or Saturday, get an early reservation when the service (kitchen) will be on top of things and the noise level will be lower.
Great dining experience and highly recommend to others looking for hearty delicious food.