Le Coq Rico – Best Duck Ever?

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Three of us had a fabulous meal at Le Coq Rico this week.  I had been told by a friend that the duck was the best he had ever had, so of course, being duck afficionados we had to try it.  The restaurant is a branch of one in Montmartre in Paris, owned by Alsatian chef Antoine Westermann, and the Frenchness is palpable. The atmosphere is rustic and sophisticated at the same time, with whimsical touches like panels of feathers on the wall, and more feathers suspended from the ceiling.  The clientele is mostly well-dressed, well-groomed, and well-behaved, not screeching like what we so often encounter these days.  It is lively, however, and everyone seemed to be having a good time.

Let me start by saying we ordered too much food. We tend to do this on our first visit to any restaurant, in order to try more dishes. So, we began with the offal platter, a board holding two each of various chicken innards and wings. It was delicious, as were the duck rillettes and the deviled eggs with tuna ventresca and cabbage salad.  The duck is billed as being for up to three people, but with appetizers and sides it could easily feed five.  It comes with a green salad, and we added a side of mushrooms. This is not your traditional roast duck, it is only the breast and wings, albeit a huge one. When it still had its legs, this bird must have weighed ten pounds or more.  Like the chickens here, it is spit-roasted, resulting in tender but firm, medium-rare meat, with a bit of fat left under the skin.  It is served with a jus for pouring over. Stanley and I drank a Nitro Milk Stout, while Rick had a glass of sparkling blanc de blancs. We thought the dark, rich beer went especially well with the food. We almost skipped dessert, but were tempted by the chestnut and passion fruit vacherin, so we decided to continue stuffing ourselves.  I’m so glad we did, as this was something I would normally expect to have to travel to France to experience.  And, once again, it was not only enough for the three of us, it could have served four.

I can’t wait to return to try the chickens.

http://www.lecoqriconyc.com/

 

Obica Mozzarella Bar – Flatiron

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We tried Obica after receiving a Blackboard Eats deal, and have now been there twice. I’ve tasted a number of dishes, all very good. The menu is extensive and offers the possibility to order a number of small plates or go the traditional appetizer plus main course route. The mozzarella bar is a great concept. I love mozzarella and burrata, and here they are served in creative ways.

The Mozzarella Experience includes Bufala Classica and Basil Pesto, Bufala Affumicata and Marinated Artichoke, Stracciatella and Anchovies, and Ricotta, Pine Nuts and Cranberries. The Burrata Degustazione has burrata with three different toppings:  Smoked Salmon, Sea Urchin, and Bottarga. Each of these is perfect for two to share as appetizers.
We’ve also had the mozzarella in carrozza, eggplant parmigiana, and pappardelle with duck ragu, and of the main courses, the ribeye and lamb chops. I haven’t yet tried the pizzas, but look forward to it in future.
For dessert, the semifreddo was excellent, and we also liked the tiramisu.

 

Gnocco – Rustic East Village Italian

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Gnocco was a wonderful surprise for us. Always looking for great places to eat that are on discount dining plans, I found this by searching on Idine. Further research turned up much praise, so we went there a couple of weeks ago and had a memorable meal.  Everyone was seated in the enclosed, heated garden, which has a nice rustic feel.

We shared two starters. The octopus carpaccio was perhaps the best I’ve had of a dish not often seen. The shaved celery and pink peppercorns in lemon vinaigrette added much flavor.  The vitello tonnato, while not quite rivalling what we’ve had in Italy, was nonetheless delicious.  I had the branzino and Stanley the loin lamb chop. Both were perfect, with intricate flavor combinations. To drink, we both had Moretti La Rossa, one of our favorite beers.

For dessert, I had tiramisu and he had vin santo with biscotti.

Service was attentive.  The menu is extensive, and we are looking forward to trying many more dishes, including pizzas and pastas.

http://www.gnocco.com/#eat-together

 

Rive Gauche Bistro – Athens, NY

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Wow, what a find! I was alerted to this by a post on Chowhound, which has mysteriously disappeared, but I will be posting my own report there. Rive Gauche is everything you could hope for in a bistro. Charming decor, lively but not loud, warm and attentive service, and a large selection at reasonable prices. It’s classic French cooking done well.

The first thing to arrive on the table is a little ramekin of chicken liver mousse topped with a red wine gelee. Served with toasted bread, it’s a great starter. For appetizers we had the country pate, and escargot in puff pastry. Both were served with a pile of greens in a balsamic vinaigrette. The pastry was light as a feather. Portions are very generous. Our main courses were coq au vin (roasted, not stewed, but none the worse for that), and short rib Bourguignon, just a bit different from the classic, this one served on a bed of spinach. Both dishes came with a potato gratin. Now, I’m not a big fan of potatoes, but these won me over. For dessert, we shared a slice of dulce de leche cheesecake. It was very good, but I sense that the desserts are not made on premises.

The wine list looks pretty good, but we opted for beer. Stanley had Boddington’s and I had Keegan’s Mother’s Milk stout. We like these, but I was a little disappointed that the Founders Dirty Bastard, a favorite, was not on the list though I had seen it on the website.

All in all, it’s a great addition to the sleepy village of Athens and we hope to return soon.

http://www.rivegauchebistro.com/