What? It's June?? You have to be kidding me. I keep having this problem - a function of being crazy busy and spending lots of my online time elsewhere I'm afraid. Facebook and Pinterest are giving me a serious case of ADD when it comes to sitting in front of the computer lately. We've also had several rounds of houseguests, which is awesome, especially with the new guest room - but it's kind of difficult to sit down and write blogs posts when there are guests to be entertained. And chocolate croissants to be eaten...
ANYhoo - back to New Orleans - and Cochon. There were so many choices and so little time, but for various reasons, Cochon wound up being our big dinner out experience of the trip. We were on a bit of a budget so we stuck with mostly casual noshes the rest of the time - though we would have gone to Galatoires if the maitre'd had not taken exception to the flip flops worn by the gentlemen of our group (with collared shirts, which they specified on their website - sadly, there was no mention of a shoe requirement. *sniff*.) My first quibble with Cochon is that it could have been anywhere. With it's blonde wood and brick interior, it looked like something you could find in San Diego, San Francisco, DC, or Chicago. That's not true of most places in NOLA. We settled in with a couple of delicious cocktails. My favorite was the "Sacalait Punch" (pictured) Pierre Ferand Ambre Cognac, N.O. Dark Rum, Mathilde Peche Liqueur and lemon juice. I also liked the "Orange Whiskey" cocktail, with Buffalo Trace bourbon, Peychaud Bitters and fresh orange juice.
The menu offers a nice mix of familiar and sophisticated dishes with a little New Orleans flair. We ordered several starters to share - the "boucherie plate" - or charcuterie platter, crawfish pie, pork cheeks with spoonbread, favas and fresh herbs, and a salad that wasn't terribly memorable. The boucherie was terrific, not surprisingly - since they cure all their own meats, which they sell next door. The crawfish pie was also delicious - a rich, spicy crawfish filling enveloped in a crisp, flaky crust - served with a spicy housemade chutney.
The pork cheeks with favas and spoonbread were my favorite dish of the entire trip. The cheeks were braised and served over a rich, creamy spoonbread (somewhere between a corn pudding a corn bread) and served with a rich jus reduction.
My main course was the fried oyster and bacon sandwich. It was good, but I don't know that I'd order it again - you can get an excellent oyster po-boy at any number of places in NOLA and they have some other interesting things on their menu. It was also hard to eat on two pieces of thin toasted white bread.
James tried the signature dish, the Cochon - shredded pork mixed together with some seasonings and fried in a patty. This wasn't as good as I thought it should be - the seasoning was a bit too strong for my taste - heavy on the juniper and bay - and it was a bit dry. The cabbage and turnips didn't do much to cut the richness, either. Those are pork cracklins on the top. The rest of our party tucked into the Rabbit and Dumplings - which I am told were very good.
We tried two of the desserts - the Black Bottom Banana Cream Pie and the Butterscotch pudding...
The pie was by far the better of the two. I guess I'm pretty spoiled by the excellent butterscotch pudding at Pizzeria Mozza and Blue Ribbon Pizzeria - but this paled by comparison, literally. The texture was loose and soft, and the flavor just not intense enough.
We returned to Cochon on our last day in town to pick up sandwiches for the plane ride home at Cochon Butcher - just around the corner on the right side of the building. (They are open on Sundays, though the restaurant is not.)
I get the feeling this is where the locals go - they serve lunch and bar food at a few tables in the center of the room, and do a bang up takeout business with their cured meats and products - as well as of course, sandwiches.
The attractively packaged cured meats were tempting.
And the sandwich menu was too. I really wanted to try the pork belly with mint, cucumber and chili lime aioli, but we were constrained by lack of refrigeration, so we went with a Gambino and a Cold Roast Beef. They really hit the spot a couple of hours later, with the little housemade pickles they included.
I will definitely refer back to this menu for some inspiration the next time I get the idea a hankering to pull out the panini press!
The next NOLA trip is already on deck, for Mardi Gras. *Gulp* I can't wait. :)
930 Tchoupitoulas Street
New Orleans, LA 70130-3820