Tuesday, January 20, 2009

High on the Hog - New Orleans dining: Cochon

I'd heard good things about Cochon from just about everywhere I looked, so I can't say I was surprised to find that it was a fantastic restaurant. That said, though, I still came away awed that everything was so completely delicious and fairly affordable.
The decor sits somewhere between rustic, with lots of wood and exposed brick, and hip, with trendy diners and an upscale enough vibe to merit the prices. There was too much good stuff on the menu to sample it all, but damn if we didn't try to eat as much as possible.
The wood-fired oyster roast giant, sweet, succulent oysters with a combination of cayenne, chili flakes, garlic and anchovy for a spicy, flavorful kick. I love raw oysters, even with minimal accouterments, so you can only imagine how much I loved this. As per usual, the boyfriend couldn't resist the siren call of organ meat. This time, instead of the typical chicken livers, it was fried rabbit livers with pepper jelly toast. Whereas I typically find fried chicken livers to leave an unpleasant metallic aftertaste, these were an ideal balance of salty and rich without any unsavory flavors. I had only a small bite of my cousin's pork cheek, goat cheese and beet appetizer, and from what I could tell, this too was a big winner.
Appetizers set the bar pretty high, and fortunately entrees didn't let us down either. I had read that rabbit and dumplings were a standout dish, so I opted to split that and the Louisiana cochon with turnips, cabbage and cracklings with the boyfriend. The dumplings were unbelievably light, and the broth had tons of flavor, even if the rabbit didn't really stand out one way or the other. The pork was simultaneously crispy and tender and packed with flavor. This isn't the ho hum pork loin you find at most restaurants! I had only had turnips once before. Granted they were in a dodgy cous cous dish somewhere in the Moroccan desert, but still I was struck by how much they tasted like rotten potatoes. So I was wary of them in this dish, but now I'm a turnip convert. They were so sweet and yummy, I may even try cooking with them sometime!
How we had room for dessert after all this, and bottles of pinot noir and nebbiolo, I don't know, but this was a weekend of glutton so we made it work. Although the savory dishes were the standouts, desserts were unique, and of course we ate every last bite. The gateau de chocolate strayed for the dense chocolate on chocolate norm, and instead combined honey creole cream cheese mousse and pears with the chocolate to make for a remarkably light dish. The pineapple upside down cake was pretty good and was brought up a notch by the always yummy dulce de leche served with it. My only request would be more dulce de leche next time!
I can't say enough good things about Cochon. Everything we had was incredible, the price was fair, and there are still tons of things on the menu I'd like to try. Oyster and bacon sandwich? Sign me up. Fisherman style gulf-fish? Yep, I'll take one. Andouille and sweet potato pie? Yum! Clearly, I'm a fan of this Nawlins shrine to the porcine! If you're in New Orleans, go and check it out for yourself...

Cochon on Urbanspoon



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