Cochon V. Herbsaint
Hey there -
I've never been to NOLA and am trying to decide between Cochon or Herbsaint for a Saturday night. I live in NYC and dine out out alot so I'm not particular if one is higher end than another.
Does anyone have strong opinions re: which one is better ? Or More representative of local flavors?
Thank you !!!!
I love both places, but they're different. Cochon is more casual, the decor is bright, clean, sort of rustic chic if that makes any sense. The food and flavors are more country or cajun, humble food prepared with the care and finesse of a great chef and "upscale" in its presentations. Pork. Cured Meats. Oysters. Greens. Beans. Homey desserts. Prepared deliciously.
Herbsaint is more subdued, more "romantic," more urban bistro, situated right on "the Avenue." The food is a successful blend of French, Italian, Southern and Creole influences. Duck confit. Gnocchi. Always an excellent gumbo. Great chicken. Also fabulous.
Which is more New Orleans? Cochon is more Southwest Louisiana or cajun. Herbsaint has the local influences. But neither features classic NOLA cuisine. They're both wonderful, but they're different. If I were going to try both, I'd go to Cochon for lunch, Herbsaint for dinner. If I were going to try both and wanted the most bang for my bucks, I'd probably do the opposite.
And then there's Cochon Butcher, the basic lunch-counter type sandwich bar nextdoor to Cochon albeit one with sandwiches made with excellent bread, Cochon's own cured meats and relishes, etc.
Any particular reason you are picking between two Donald Link establishments?
Echoing the other comment, they are completely different restaurants, both have menus online. I also agree that neither in my opinion are especially evocative of NOLA food. But both are good restaurants.
With a very broad brush: Herbsaint is far more delicate and Cochon is down-home cajun that's served in a dressed up environment.
Coincidentally, I picked up one of Link's "Real Cajun" cookbooks for my uncle the other day. It was absolutely beautiful.
I did almost feel bad bringing it to him and my aunt in Philly, the night before Rosh Hashanah (sp), upon considering the sheer amount of bacon/pork product that is featured in the book. And then the Saints destroyed the gimpy Eagles...
I agree with the other posters that Cochon is not particularly evocative of New Orleans' cuisine, but I might suggest that view paints with too fine a brush. "Louisiana" food versus "New Orleans" food is a distinction that might not be all that relevant to an outsider. Almost as if someone were to say to me, for example, that a restaurant served great Pac NW food, but it wasn't really Portland food. Fine, but either one, if authentic and done well, is an experience I can't get here, if you take my meaning.
Cochon is without question the best expression of rustic South Louisiana cuisine in New Orleans.
If I were coming from NYC, I would chose it as a place unlike anything I could find at home.
While I completely agree that Cochon is most unlike what someone might find in NYC,
I think it is important to make the distinction between NO food and Cochon's. Many people have expectations--set by Galatoire's or Commander's or Arnaud's or even Mr. B's--of "classic" New Orleans food; others do confuse New Orleans/ Creole with Cajun, but they're different.
I wouldn't want someone to go to Cochon--or Herbsaint--expecting Crabmeat Ravigote or Trout Meuniere or BBQ Shrimp or Shrimp Creole or any of numerous dishes typically associated with classic "New Orleans" cuisine.
But I have no quarrel with your assertion that a wonderful meal can be had in either place.
Two trips ago, we went to Cochon for our big meal out. Last trip, we went to Herbsaint. I have no preconceptions regarding what constitutes great food. I've been as happy at taquerias as at high-end gourmet establishments. So I don't think my opinion on this reflects which food was more refined.
That being said, on the whole, I thought the food at Herbsaint was superior to that at Cochon. It just tasted better. I'm no expert on creole/cajun food so I can't say which is more representative of local flavors. We were blown away with our entire Herbsaint experience, whereas that at Cochon was merely pretty good.