Grub/Spirits Restaurant Reviews — 22 November 2016
Le Coq Rico, A Reason to Give Thanks

Le Coq Rico
30 East 20th Street near Broadway, Flatiron District
Getting There: 4,5,6,L,N,Q,R to 14th Street-Union Square; 6 to 23rd Street

The Bistro of Beautiful Birds, as it is called, is an utterly appropriate distinction for those New Yorkers looking for that perfect place to celebrate Thanksgiving. Helmed by Michelin star-winning chef Antoine Westermann, cozy Flatiron restaurant Le Coq Rico is a modernized brasserie that is focused on serving some of the City’s finest poultry dishes. And so it shouldn’t be much of a surprise that the bistro’s first US outpost, which opened back in the spring, is perhaps the most well-equipped to handle the most grandiose of holiday orders ahead of Thursday’s festivities- prepared by the talented hands of an elite renowned Chef, once named one of the Top Five Chefs in France.

Though the restaurant is technically a transplant from Paris, the feel and ambiance inside are definitively New York. Floor to ceiling windows accompany the restaurant’s narrow exterior where the sleek bar in front gives way to an inventive dining counter in back, both of which sandwich a dimly lit dining area adorned with lightly painted rustic wood-paneled walls and exposed bricks that give a nod to its Manhattan locale. The aforementioned counter overlooks the open kitchen, where the experience of watching the collaborative efforts of the kitchen staff alone is worth the cost of the delicious meal to be served later. Somehow relaxed yet upscale, the entire space manages to be eye-catching- meticulously designed to maximize each of a guest’s five senses.

Although most folks don’t routinely pay up for poultry as they might for a dry-aged cut of LaFrieda beef, ‘The Whole Birds’ at Le Coq Rico are intended to serve parties of four, selling at right around $100 all-in. But the sticker shock of a perfectly prepared “Catskill Guinea Fowl” or “Plymouth Barred Rock” shouldn’t scare you- not when the soft and tender meat is this well-seasoned and delicious. But it’s the restaurant’s Thanksgiving menu, that really leaves our mouths watering. From the ‘Duck Foie Gras Terrine’ with cranberry chutney to the ‘Stuffed Heritage Turkey,’ replete with red cabbage and chestnut fricassee and a mouthwatering butternut and citrus puree- an $85 Thanksgiving feast here is an absolutely ideal way to experience Chef Westermann’s cooking for the very first time.

Better yet perhaps? Have some family over to your quaint little apartment and grab some of the restaurant’s special Thanksgiving fare to go. Chef Westermann’s deliciously prepared Frank Reese Heritage Turkey pays homage to the responsibly raised birds with a delectable roasted onion and chestnut stuffing fit to serve up parties between 6-8 in size. And at just $280, their Take-Away menu is a veritable steal given the volume of food that will sit out at your table. Whether you decide to dine in house or grab a package for the road, Le Coq Rico will make sure that your every Thanksgiving need is accommodated.

- Jane Vane Arsdale

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