Legendary and acclaimed three-star Michelin Chef, Antoine Westermann, has opened his first U.S. location in March – Le Coq Rico at 39 East 20th Street in the Flatiron district of New York. Le Buerehiesel, his Michelin-starred restaurant in Strasbourg is now headed by his son, Eric. Antoine has created a bistro in France and now New York that is all about poultry. But not just any old poultry, but responsibly farmed birds like hens, duck, squab, guinea fowl and chickens. And they taste better than your average birds because the small farms are hand selected for raising birds to exacting standards, specific diets, and longer periods of raising them than the industry standards. Most farms keep the birds for 40 days, whereas these farms may keep the wild heritage prized birds from 90-120 days, which gives you a more tender, and flavorful bird. He actually lists the age of the bird at slaughter as well as the farm.
Not too far from Gramercy Tavern this unique spot has multiple seating areas. Some seats are much better than others. You may not be happy if you are placed in one of the narrow hallways or passageways. There is a wine hall where you will see the wine tower, where there is a good selection of French as well as American wines. The main dining room, or the chef’s counter, where you can get a “birds” eye view of the kitchen. The place has a modern bistro feel to it, it is monochromatic, in stylish black and white. It can feel quite crowded as the place has been a huge hit. It can also get a little loud at peak hours, between the music and the chatter.
They might just serve one of the best roast chickens this side of Paris. They are paraded around the room like trophies and are carted back to the kitchen to be carved. They can feed a table of 3-4 people, although you can also order a quarter roast chicken with salad and fries. The chicken has a bronzed skin, is full of flavour, and even the white meat is moist. Other bird dishes are deviled eggs, duck foie gras, several types of terrines, and a signature dish of giblets, which sounds gross but is truly divine. The slow cooked egg with chanterelle mushrooms, fava beans and pea fricasse is wonderful too. The food is quite rich and on the heavy side, but they happen to make some pretty delicious vegetable dishes and salads as well. There are also a couple of seafood plates on the menu too. The side dishes of crispy fries, mushrooms, creamy macaroni and cheese make tasty accompaniments.
Where the kitchen really shines is dessert. Pastry Chef Matthieu Simon who worked three years in Vienna, makes superb French classic desserts. The Floating Island is perfection, a balance of light airy meringue in a velvety crème anglaise. He also does a wonderful job of the millefeuilles, ice cream, and the chocolate profiteroles.
The prices are on the high side, so be warned. A chicken can cost you $100. But as billed this is, “the bistro of beautiful birds”, and you have to pay for “haute” poultry.
This newcomer is taking off and for good reason, the food has an undeniable pedigree, there is a devotion to hospitality, and the food is seriously delicious.