For our NRT outing in January we selected Coquette Brasserie in North Hills. It is a quintessential French Bistro with black and white tiled floors, wooden chairs and marble top tables and a bread and water station in the middle of the room. It is a causal yet elegant atmosphere.
We shifted NRT back a week so it would coincide with Triangle Restaurant Week. When we arrived at Coquette we found that the restaurant week prix fixe menu included items which were on the regular menu. Also, the regular prices are not so high that the $30 prix fixe price was a ‘deal’. Therefore, we opted to go ahead an order off of the regular menu. In my opinion, restaurant week is a chance for a restaurant to shine, offer new dishes, and attract new customers so it was a bit disappointing to see little effort put into it at Coquette. There was an excellent discussion on the purpose of restaurant week on VarmintBites blog with a great discussion and comments from the owner of Dos Perros and Jujube with an industry perspective which resulted in an updated post by VarmintBites.
We ordered some drinks and wine and began analyzing the menu. The waiter brought out some bread, a nice brown bread and a classic baguette, with some room temperature butter. The baguette was wonderful with a nice chewy, crust and a soft delicate center. We couldn’t get enough!
We started by sharing two appetizers. The namesake, gruyère and potato coquette were served with a nice tangy garlic aioli. While addictive (I mean it is cheese and potatoes!) the coquette were a bit dense and drier than expected. The steak tartare, however, was fantastic! The quail egg added a wonderful richness to the perfectly diced steak. It was served with grain mustard which was a perfect compliment to cut the richness of the steak and egg.
For my entrée I had the lamb ragoût crêpe. The lamb was beautifully braised with perfectly diced root vegetables. The ragout was served over delicate crêpes. I wasn’t sure what to expect but was pleasantly surprised. One of my dining companions had the beef bourguignon which was also prepared to perfection, rich with mushrooms and pearl onions and served over egg noodles. The only complaint was that there could have been more beef. The other entrée at the table was the steak frites which was served with a béarnaise sauce. The hanger steak was cooked to order (medium rare in this case). The béarnaise provided a decadent richness to the dish.
We decided to go all out and ordered three desserts. We tried the flourless chocolate truffle cake which was nice but very standard. The vanilla crème brûlée was again nice but could have used a deeper vanilla flavor. The highlight by far was the morello cherry clafoutis. Clafoutis is a rustic French dessert made of sweet cherries (or any other summer fruit) baked in a pancake like batter. It was delicious! The cherries were just sour and the batter had a delicate almond flavor throughout!
Our server was helpful though the service was a bit slow that evening. The portions were also surprisingly large for this type of an establishment. If you are looking for a wonderfully prepared French bistro food and a nice atmosphere Coquette is a great choice.
4351 The Circle at North Hills
Raleigh, NC 27609