Halifax: Bistro Le Coq?
I went to le coq twice last week, incidently just after returning from a week in Paris. The first time was for lunch on a Thursday. I arrived first and was greeted in French by two servers. There were only a handful of other tables. I had the nicoise and frites and my two friends both had the steak sandwich. The nicoise was delicious, both better and cheaper than a version I had in Paris the week before. For 10 bucks (I think) it included a few slices of perfectly seared sesame crusted tuna atop the normal greens, beans, potato and egg. Sliced olives and olive paste on the side. It wasn't entirely authentic (the dressing and the inclusion of red onions) but was maybe more delicious as a result. The frites were delicious, with a faint flavour of smoked paprika, served with flavoured mayo (I can't remember which flavour). I tasted the steak sandwich which was amazing. I'll get it next time. For dessert we had the ile flottante which, though tasty, wasn't "floating" as much as I'd hoped it would be. The creme anglaise was a bit too thick and not plentiful enough.
The next night we started we the charcuterie board which wasn't exactly to my taste, except the rabbit terrine which was delicious. Overall there were too many pickles (all the accompanying veg) and the duck prosciutto was overpowering. Also, it was served with the same bread that comes to the table as you sit down which was a bit much. For my main I had the roast chicken which was a large portion (half the bird?), very moist, served with gravy on a few veg with... more frites! The prices are very fair and the service is attentive (although our server the second visit was obviously very green). I will definitely go back.
Thanks for the review... I'll have to check it out sometime.
Funny enough, I was just reading a french cookbook that was explaining the difference between iles flottantes and oeufs a la neige:
The meringue for iles flottantes is supposed to be baked in a mold and is supposed to include hazelnuts. The instructions say to serve it with the meringue on the plate, spooning the creme anglaise around it to make it appear as though it's an island.
The meringue for oeufs a la neige is not molded, but poached in sugar water, no hazelnuts. To serve this one, you're supposed to pour the creme anglaise onto the serving platter first... floating the meringue on top.
LOL - glad I got to use some trivia that I thought I'd never get the opportunity to spout. I do have to say that anytime I've had floating islands as a desert, they've come floating on the creme anglaise. May not be the traditional way, but is probably a bastardized North American version of the desert that is accepted in its own right now.
I've been for brunch now, and had a good experience.
The table split some hors d'oeuvres:
-fois gras mousse with rhubarb and orange marmalade. These were served with toasted baguette. I'm not sure what ratio of baguette to fois gras they expected, but we were served a terribly inadequate (about 30% of what we'd eventually need) supply of bread. The server was happy to get us more. The rhubarb and orange marmalade really did the trick in cutting through the richness of the mousse, and everyone really enjoyed this.
-Duck confit salad. The duck was great. The end.
We ordered a bunch of drinks too... all were quite pleasant, I would suggest that you try whatever sounds appealing to you.
So yeah... brunch with drinks and appetizers...
Lobster Benny - fine... apparently really nice if you like lobster. I don't, so there you go. My dad really liked his - except for the potato rosti that accompanied it.
Crepe du jour (I think it was a ham and asparagus with some veggies in it, and a chardonnay cream sauce) - really nicely put together - great flavours and great texture. My mum ordered this (and we all tried a bit of everyone's food... passing side plates around... gauche? mayber... but that's the way we roll) and she enjoyed it... except for her rosti.
Eggs Benedict on duck prosciutto - the duck prosciutto was a nice touch. Eggs were cooked perfectly, and this had just the right amount of sauce. She didn't enjoy her rosti.
There seems to be an anti-rosti sentiment running at our table. I didn't try any of anyone else's, and my meal didn't have one, so I can't say what the real issue was... murmers of "Not tasty"... "soggy"... "cold"... abounded at our table. Given the option again, I think it was unanimous, that everyone would have preferred the salad accompaniment.
Steak sandwich was my brunch, it was served with frites, no rosti. The steak was cooked perfectly... the sauce was perfect... the toast was perfect.. the egg it was topped with oozed goodness all over when I cut into it... pretty much excellent. I didn't have much room for the frites - they were good, but not amazing. I saw on the menu that you can order them with parmesan and a truffle mayo as a side... I think either the seasoning was muted by the flavours from my sandwich, or I just got regular ole' frites cooked in duck fat. I have heard great things about the frites here, and I have no complaints... just wasn't blown away by the duck fat factor - I guess I was expecting more.
My boyfriend, in a break from the savoury experiences abounding at the table, broke from the mould and ordered the apple pancakes. These were fluffy and delicious... spiced just right, and served with local bacon. He was pretty hungry... I guess his food was less filling than everyone else's.
After a round of coffees, groupspeak ordered deserts. Maybe it was the cocktails talking. Who has dessert with brunch?
My dad had a selection of their house made ice creams. All were good, but the mocha was outstanding. I had creme brule, which was delicious... just the right balance of creme and brule. My boyfriend and mother both had the illes flotantes - the islands were poached (without hazlenuts) and they were served surrounded by creme anglais - so really, according to my research, a combination of illes flotantes and oeufs a la neige. They were pretty good, and the custard was delicious. I'm sure my sister had kirsch buchette, which was also good and decadent, and called for more coffee.
The atmosphere was nice... great space (though I felt the tin ceiling was a little too shiny given its close proximity. I've been to bistros before that tend to be long narrow spaces with high ceilings and small tables packed together - usually they're crammed with people enjoying themselves and the boisterous atmosphere is part of the charm. Bistro le Coq was a little more subdued, with fewer tables. So go with your friends and fill this place up. Enjoy some cocktails and great food.
I was recently at le Coq for brunch, and was extremely disappointed, following all the hype on Yelp and other sites. The ambiance and service were fantastic, the food however fell far short of expectations.
Some concrete examples:
A croque madame should not be made with marbled white/raisin bread, or with back bacon.
A salade with confit de canard should not be served with dried cranberries or a sickly-sweet dressing.
Pomme frites should be crispy (think Belgian frites) -- they should not be soggy, and they should not be dusted with parmesan. I asked to have my frites without parmesan -- something which the kitchen could not accommodate, which begs the question, are they even fresh? Or do they arrive frozen, pre-coated in parmesan?
A salade nicoise should not be served with raw ahi tuna.
le Coq doesn't respect the French classics. Instead, its little tweaks and twists devalue tried-and-true recipes, and deeply disappoint.
I don't think they are trying to create authentic French dishes. If that is the intent, I agree, they fall short. Instead, the tweaks and twists are interpretations of classics. We still don't have an authentic French bistro in Halifax and perhaps we never will, but I feel this is a nice addition to the scene.