There are certain positive attributes that set Les Cocottes apart from the rest of the Parisian dining scene: the democratic no-reservation policy for one, makes this an ideal address for a good meal on the fly. The pricing is very reasonable, and the food is quite good, as it should be belonging to a stable of restaurants owned by famous chef Christian Constant. Of course, one would be remiss to neglect noting the use of Staub-branded cocottes to serve both hot and cold savory dishes.
Les Cocotte’s Caesar Salad has been lauded by many as one of the best versions in town, and while I don’t know if it deserves the superlatives, the salad is indeed very good, the crunchy iceberg served with lashings of funky anchovy-rich sauce. The other vegetable side was however a miss, much too pedestrian (even with the inclusion of truffle oil) to merit its 12E price tag.
Mains were substantially more interesting, a dish of shredded slow-cooked lamb wrapped into brik pastry to form a North African pastilla of sorts. Served with unctuous pumpkin puree, the flavors were at once exotic and familiar at the same time.
The cocotte of the day was a quenelle of minced scallops. The puck of scallops and filler tasted delicately sweet in a sea of butter sauce while the light, almost tofu-like texture resembled that of an ile-flottante. Another seafood dish that we really enjoyed was the precisely cooked piece of cod perched on well-seasoned, just-cooked lentils de puy.
Desserts fell into the safe but unspectacular category. The quarter of cake that was advertised as “the famous Christian Constant chocolate cake” was indeed ultra-rich and chocolaty, though it wasn’t that much more delicious than other chocolate fondants that did not have the famous sign written over it. The waffles disappointed with their dry interiors that not even the tasty fresh cream could save.
Ordinarily, we would have been quite pleased with a meal of such caliber and relatively gentle prices (less than 30E/pax for a savory dish each, 2 desserts amongst 6 and a bottle of wine). We would have been happy to bump elbows with our neighbors and overlook the hot seats under the spotlights. But we still cannot for the life of us understand how our server could refuse our requests for some plates so we could share our food by saying “we do not have plates”. When did asking for plate-ware in a restaurant, even one that serves food in iron-cast pots, become improper behavior? It was extra embarrassing because we had friends from overseas to whom we were defending Parisian service practices when this happened. We found that refusal unbecoming and for that reason, will bring our business next time elsewhere.
Les Cocottes – 135 Rue St Dominique, 75007, Paris