Pete Wells Impressed by Le Coq Rico's Poultry, Awards Restaurant 2 Stars

Don't make the mistake of not ordering the chicken at “The Bistro of Beautiful Birds”

Le Coq Rico

This upscale French restuarant offers six different types of whole birds for your party to feast on.

Pete Wells spoke the truth in his latest review on Le Coq Rico in noting that chicken dishes tend to be overlooked when dining out. It's true — I rarely order chicken as an entrée if I have the opportunity to order say, a steak or nice piece of fish. Why? Because I can make chicken at home.

Le Coq Rico, a French restaurant that opened up just three months ago, has managed to truly impress Wells, who raves about its poultry to a point where its a little… uncomfortable. Wells believes he has, “finally found the perfect restaurant to take people who think they can make a better chicken at home,” and for $95, I sure hope its far better than anything I can whip up in the kitchen!

Of the two poultry items ordered, the old New England breed of chicken called Plymouth Rock, along with a guinea fowl, he describes the experience as such: “Carved and fit back together, each bird was placed in the center of the table in its own iron roasting pan. Our eyes locked in on the bronzed skin and tapering curves of drumsticks with fixed and purposeful stares that, if we had not been humans looking at poultry, I would call lust.” Rest assured, it sounds like it was unbelievable.

Though perhaps the guinea fowl was a bit “sinewy,” that seems to be one of the only things a bit unfavorable he had to say about the meal, given that the statement ended with, “… but once disentangled, the flesh had a flavor I found highly persuasive. Even the white meat tasted like dark meat.”

Wells and his party “demolished” twice as many birds as normally suggested. “The meat had all the things I wanted and none of the things I didn’t.” Wells raved, "It was moist but not drippy or briny; compact and muscular but not tough; long on deep, rounded flavor that didn’t seem to rely on salt or sugar.”

It's not at all surprising that the chef and owner, Antoine Westermann had spent several months on the look out for “beautiful American birds” for his restaurant. According to the review, the chef/ owner is, “particular about how long they spend pecking and strutting before they land on his rotisserie,” explaining that, “The menu lists the age at slaughter… for each breed on the menu, from 90 days for the Plymouth Rock to 130 days for the guinea fowl.”

An example? A whole Brune Landaise (French breed) is given 110 days before its “harvested.” It's “simmered in a clay casserole with potatoes, tomatoes, onions, artichokes, stock and a bottle of riesling.” Wells attests it was terrific, “with bewitching undercurrents of spice in a sauce that had body but no visible fat.” Also praised were the sautéed, “glorious” chicken livers.

A few slight misses mentioned included the chicken gizzards who's “flavor seemed to have leaked out” and the foie gras terrine baked inside a soft pastry crust, though he admits he doesn't “know anywhere in New York to get a better, cheaper version.”

To surmise: dine here, get the chicken, and never be satisfied with the poultry you cook at home ever again.

For the complete review, click here.

For more New York City dining and travel news, click here.

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