Monday, January 4, 2010

Cochon, Quest for the Perfect Pork

The New York Times "Food and Wine" section is printed every Wednesday.  It's required reading for all employees where I work.  Usually, there are plenty of interesting articles on wine, cheese, and a restaurant review on one of the many restaurants in NYC, but imagine my surprise to read a review of a New Orleans restaurant a few years ago in one of the Wednesday papers. Cochon, a relatively new restaurant at the time, was featured that week.  After reading about how fantastic it was, I had to go on my next trip home.

Sure enough, my folks agreed to make the drive into NOLA from Baton Rouge, my hometown, with Dan and myself in tow.  It was an idyllic afternoon and made for some wonderful memories. We spent our day touring the French Quarter, stopping for beignets at Café du Monde, a walk by the Cathedral, and later watched a little wedding on the levee overlooking the Mississippi River, ending with our dinner at Cochon. By the time we got to the restaurant, I was nearly drooling with anticipation.  I had been looking forward to the meal for months and I was ready to load up on pork!

Cochon is a casual bistro in an off-the-beaten-path part of New Orleans.  They bring in entire pigs to butcher down into all of the usable parts which is just about everything for them.  They make charcuterie, use the ears in salads, and cure their own bacon.  I think I remember reading on their menu that they use everything "from the rooter to the tooter." It's an offshoot of Chef Donal Link's classic New Orleans fine-dining destination, Herbsaint, and has been getting rave reviews for some time now.  I believe they have now also opened a butcher shop nearby to sell sausages, bacon, and patés at retail. Of course, I had to try it all and I'm glad my parents and Dan were willing accomplices.

Some highlights of the meal were the oyster and meat pies, panéed pork cheeks, rabbit livers with pepper jelly, and homemade root beer parfait.  We had almost everything on the menu, a few desserts, a delicious bottle of red, and cocktails to start. I don't think the meal came to more than about $50 a person after tip and tax although the details are hazy from the food coma that ensued afterward.  It was certainly an insane value by anyone's standards.  The service was warm and friendly, and we felt quite at home in their unassuming setting.  We were dining on the early side and I'm glad we did, because the place really filled up and got busy for a Monday night.  Chef, Stephen Stryjewski, even came out towards the end of the meal to shake our hands and say hello.  It was a pretty special meal.

I'm looking forward to my next trip home in a few weeks, and I'm hoping to make it there.  I'm sure the food will be just as amazing, and is there really such a thing as too much pork?


  1. The Warehouse district is making a comeback in New Orleans. It's a trendy spot for new restaurants. The close proximity to Magazine Street shopping and the WWII Museum make it a good choice.