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Mar 15, 2010 08:34 AM

Weekend Report - Coquette, Le Foret, Atchafalaya

My wife and I arrive at Coquette promptly for our 11:30am reservation Saturday morning. We are seated at one of the front tables facing Magazine…..perfect for people watching. With the sunny weather and the St. Patrick’s Day parade starting soon, Magazine is bustling. We start with a couple of the house specialty cocktails as we peruse the menu. I decide on the 3 course lunch special, for $24. My picks are, fried oysters w/ fennel, bass w/ gnocchi and the chocolate pot de crème. My wife starts with the roasted oysters, then the fried shrimp. We each go with a glass of Sauvignon Blanc with our meal.

The fried oysters look and taste wonderful. They’re fried crisp with a very light batter, served piled atop shaved fennel, lightly dressed, and drizzled sparingly with aoli. The oysters in the thin crusts are still moist and creamy while the fennel partners perfectly. Best dish of the meal.

The menu had the fish option as snapper, but our waitress informed me it would be bass today. The fish was pan sautéed, nicely cooked. Served with some lightly wilted greens and tender gnocchi with a citrus butter sauce. Very nice.

The other oyster dish had them roasted on the half-shell, topped with bacon, fennel and horseradish. A quite good take on the all too familiar roasted oyster.

The fried shrimp copied the same frying style as the oysters…..lightly battered with a thin, crispy crust. The shrimp were sweet and tender. I don’t recall the accompaniment.

We shared the pot de crème, served in a ramekin topped with a barely sweetened whipped cream. It actually had a coffee flavor, giving it a “mocha latte” taste.

A very enjoyable lunch, in an inviting atmosphere, and a pleasant staff.

For dinner that evening, Le Foret. I’d been reading glowing reviews on blogs and forums about this newish CBD’er…..the “next big thing” it seems. As it turns out, a friend had eaten there with 5 other associates earlier in the week. He, nor the rest of the table, left impressed, in fact, quite disappointed. We discussed maybe changing our dinner plans upon hearing this, but in the end, decided to give it a try. Spoiler Alert! Hated it. When we arrived, we were told “ooh, we have a nice table for you by the wine room”……which evidently is code for, “lone two-top in a back hallway with a view of the emergency exit”.

Considering the report from my friend, we decided on the 6 course tasting menu (a seeming bargain at $60), as they had all ordered a la carte. The amuse bouche started things off promisingly. I believe it was a cauliflower semifreddo with crab meat and caviar. It was quite delicious. Then, the wheels fell off. I must admit, the rest of the meal is a blur of unfortunate combinations, underwhelmingly seasoned plates and poorly cooked lobster, highlighted by a snottily pretentious waitress. We literally couldn’t wait to get out of there.

To those who think this is one of the best new restaurants on the NOLA dining scene……you’re welcome to it. I don’t get it.

Sunday brunch on a crisp, sunny Sunday morning at Atchafalaya. 10:00am reservations, front door opened wide, greeted by a cheerful staff. We are seated in the sun-dappled dining room. It’s bright and airy…..a nice atmosphere. My wife isn’t yet hungry, so only one dish to comment on. After the coffee has been poured, I decide on the Eggs Louisiane. Two fried green tomato slices, topped with poached eggs, hollandaise sauce and lump crab meat, served with home fries. I found the tomatoes to be hard… not firm, but hard. Tough cutting, even with a knife. Otherwise, the rest of components were great. Perfectly poached eggs, beautiful hollandaise and actual “lump” crab meat. The potatoes had been well browned with bacon and onions.

I only wish my wife would have ordered something so we would have another dish to taste. Nonetheless, it was an enjoyable brunch and I certainly expect to return.

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  1. Re: LeForet...yikes! I cannot remember a place with more wildy disparate reviews within scant weeks. Am more determined than ever to let the shake-down cruise finish before even thinking about it.(They laughed at those peoplewho said they'd wait to see if the Titanic made it back to England before booking passage.)

    1 Reply
    1. re: hazelhurst

      This is the second time I've ignored negative first-hand reports just days before, to be enormously disappointed. It won't happen a third time.

    2. I too have avoided LeForet because of the fact that the reviews seem to be all over the place.

      I haven't tried Coquette yet, but it's definitely on my list.

      I really enjoy Atchafalaya. They have the best shrimp and grits I've ever had.

      9 Replies
      1. re: nikinik

        Avoidance.....good call.

        You really should try Coquette. I've been for dinner and lunch. Each time a winner.

        I don't think they had shrimp & grits on the brunch menu. Was that for dinner you had it? No matter.....I'll be going back.

        1. re: BayouTeche

          Every report I have read that has been negative re LeForet has primarily focused on the service, not the food

          1. re: BayouTeche

            It was for dinner. I've been meaning to make it out there for brunch.

            We brought some acquaintances that were in from out of town and they enjoyed it as well. The gentlemen went on and on about how it was the best crab cake he'd ever I'm definitely interested in giving that a try. And no...he didn't give me a bite. And since he's not from here...he might not have appreciated me just sticking my fork over there like I do with my close friends! LOL

            1. re: nikinik



              A couple of positive experiences. Ours was so good, we returned the following week. I acquiessed and we went w/tasting menu (again ). I would have preferred ala carte as only a couple of courses were changed. It was good, but I was not blown away.

              1. re: JazzyB

                JazzyB.....yes, I recall your chowhound review as well as the blackenedout blog. I actually dismissed my friends experience who went earlier in the week, because he is more of a "meat & potatoes" type of guy, in favor of other positive reviews I picked up on various boards. Our tasting menu had similar elements as yours, but obviously the execution wasn't there. Topped with the bad table and service, it was easily my worst fine dining experience in the last 5 years.

            2. re: BayouTeche

              eh..i dont think avoidance is the best plan unless the overwhelming majority say the food stinks. i like to reward fledgling start-ups so they can at least have the opportunity to impress and potentially thrive.

              if nobody ever took a chance then we would see very little new ventures. that is bad for everyone.

              1. re: kibbles

                I am one voice of dissent, merely offering an opinion based my personal experience. I'm sure you can find quite a number of people that have quite favorable views that would enthusiastically recommend it (in JazzyB's words, "This was far and away the best and most memorable meal we've had in NOLA in a long time...possibly ever").

                People who are leary, I'd suggest they avoid (in my opinion) until they were comfortable trying it out. Others, such as yourself, may "like to reward fledgling start-ups" I stated in my original post, you're welcome to it.

                1. re: kibbles

                  I agree with giving business to newbies but I don't want to spend $$$$$ to find out it was a bust. I think most of us know the other local posters' views and I think well of our deponent today as well as of yourself..and JazzyB is not to be thought of as delusional when he raved about it. But we all know that there can be horrible breakdowns in the early days...I gave Danube, in New York, almost a year and there were still some problems there but I enjoyed it nonetheless. I will give Le Foret a whirl, outside of a slammed season such as Jazz Fest..maybe I'll insert it when I was planning a Clancy's run or something of the sort. Will let you know when I make it over there.

                  1. re: hazelhurst

                    And I, for one, will look forward to your report

            3. Ate at Le Foret before the Clapton concert. We arrived late because of the St. Patty's Parade and only had an hour to eat. The staff was very accommodating and we settled on 4 apps to make the meal quicker. The amuse bouche was a definite highlight. The wine list was superb. The ambiance is very similar to Delmonico. It's wonderful what they did to restore an old, dilapidated building. Of the four apps, the risotto with lobster was outstanding, the tuna tartar good, the beef carpaccio so so and I can't recall the fourth app, but I think it was good, but not great. I think this place will hit full stride soon. It has a lot of potential. Oh, and my wife raved about the bread. It reminded her of her Kentucky meemaw's homemade bread. They bake it daily and never use it on the second day.

              1. I too have eaten at Le Foret only once but the food was excellent. The service just OK. Sorry you had a bad experience Bayou Teche. Guess it's off and on...and guess we were just lucky to be there on a good night. I, too would have been disappointed to eat in the hallway.