In Lard We Trust
I love pig; I have a t-shirt that says “I [heart] Bacon”. This being the case, I had to visit Cochon in New Orleans’ Warehouse District – the name means “pig” in French. I had expected it to be slightly more formal, but was surprised to find one wide-open space with tables throughout, a bar near the front, and the kitchen counter in the back. The host’s stand was somewhat oddly positioned right in front of a table, but the exposed brick walls and honey-colored wood tables and chairs made me feel warmly welcome.
As I was dining alone, I walked over to the bar and asked one of the patrons if anyone was sitting in the empty seat next to him. “You are!” he said with a smile. I seated myself, and was immediately asked by the bartender whether I was eating or drinking. I said “Oh, both!” He laughed, gave me a place setting, and handed me both food and drink menus. I asked the man next to me what he had ordered. “Lima beans,“ he said. He didn’t give me a chance to look skeptical, as he hastened to inform me that these weren’t just plain old lima beans, these were magical delicious lima beans infused with bacon-y goodness. I thought, “Even the lima beans have bacon in them – outstanding!”
Most everything on Cochon’s menu looks tempting, and many items feature delicious pig: spicy grilled pork ribs with watermelon pickle, Louisiana cochon with turnips, cabbage, and cracklins – even the bitter green salad has pig ears in it. I asked the bartender, Matthew, what he recommended, and told him of my love affair with pork. He said the Louisiana cochon was a kitchen specialty, and pointed out that the man to my left was in the middle of eating that very dish. I took one look and said “Sold!” I chose to forego appetizers in anticipation of the pig that was shortly to fill my stomach.
With food decided, I turned to the second most important element: drink. I have one terrible restriction when it comes to alcohol – no vodka. As you can imagine, this cuts out a lot of specialty cocktails. I settled on the Country Plumkin, which was Sauza Silver, muddled plums, and Blenheim ginger ale. I felt the drink could have been better balanced, as the tequila taste was a little stronger than I preferred, but the muddled plums lent a novel touch, and the flavor was decent. Overall, though, I wouldn’t order it again.
My cochon arrived quicker than I expected, and I dug in with relish. The pulled pork was tender and flavorful, and the turnips and cabbage added just the right amount of bitterness and crunch. I made sure to compose each forkful of the correct ratio of pig, turnips, and cabbage, while interspersing bites of cracklins. I demolished the dish, and hunted forlornly through the remaining scraps of cabbage for more porky bits when I was done.
I was fairly full, but decided to look at the dessert menu just for fun. My neighbor who’d ordered the cochon had gotten a root beer float, made with local brewery Abita’s root beer, which is sweetened with pure cane sugar. While that sounded intriguing, I was won over by Matthew’s recommendation of the pineapple upside down cake. I was shortly presented with a scoop of pineapple upside down cake drizzled with dulce de leche, accompanied by a scoop of coconut lime sorbet. The cake was phenomenal, definitely the highlight of the meal – and given how I feel about pork, that’s saying a lot. I spent the next four days raving about the dessert to anyone who would listen.
My check totaled $77, including tax and a 20% tip. New Orleans law allows you to take your drinks to go in plastic cups, but I absent-mindedly left my drink behind when I walked out. Though the drink had been only mediocre, delicious pork, a dynamite dessert, friendly patrons, and prompt and courteous service all added up to a fantastic meal at Cochon. I was so pleased with the experience that I even bought the t-shirt: a large pig logo on the front with the words “In Lard We Trust”. Strolling satisfied down the street, the taste of the wondrous pineapple upside down cake lingered delightfully as I made my way into the steamy New Orleans night.
930 Tchoupitoulas St., New Orleans, LA 70130