Cochon seems to be the place to celebrate Old World classic food with a modern take. It's ambiance seems to agree with the concept. The wooden furniture in the entire restaurant gives a slight rustic hint but not without a contemporary feeling.
Bread baskets can be undervalued sometimes since items on the menu are generally considered the star of the meal. But these rolls, oh my, soft to touch, warm on the inside and melting the whipped butter as I spread it, and slight sweetness on the taste. I was a happy camper even before the food we ordered arrived. What a way to set a good tone to the beginning of our meal.
The crab-stuffed artichoke is one beautiful dish served right inside the "shell" of the artichoke leaves. Baked and topped with crispy bread crumbs, we used our forks and dug all the way down to get a scoop into our mouths. The texture and presence of crab meat was there and the taste of crab combined with the somewhat creamy dressing was well balanced. T thought it was a good idea to spread the crab stuffed artichoke onto his bread.
T always teases me that I do not eat as much greens as him but in my defense, I do eat my greens. They just have to be prepared the right way, or at least a way that I find enticing. After we polished up the first plate of smothered greens, I asked if we could order another plate of it and we did. It was that good. Hopefully that would also have put his teasing to rest? Southern-style greens have always been something that we really like and understandably we don't see it much, if at all, in restaurants in Chicago. Usually simmered for up to an hour or more, these greens were tasty.
Fried alligators have always been one of the delicacies of New Orleans and since it was our first time trying any form of alligator dish, this dish was very welcoming to our palettes. The alligator meat bites were first deep fried until crispy and then tossed in chili garlic aioli. The entire dish had an oriental taste to it especially with the tangy hint coming from the aioli. The alligator meat itself was almost like a chewy form of chicken meat.
We also tried the fried rabbit livers that came on petite pepper jelly toasts. The livers were crispy on the outside and rich in the inside which was very well balanced out with the pepper jelly on the toast. Cochon is a fine example of contemporary Cajun and Southern-style cuisine done right and there is great reason for it to stay for a long time. We generally do not eat Cajun or Southern style cuisine often given that the couple of Cajun restaurants we have back in Chicago are tourist traps, but Cochon reminds us that we ought to seek it out more than we do now.
930 Tchoupitoulas Street
New Orleans, LA 70130
2011 James Beard Award winner for Best Chef in the South: Stephen Stryjewski
2010 James Beard Award winner for Best American Cookbook by Donald Link