This must be what heaven tastes like.
It’s the rare meal that’s practically perfect on every level. Last night, I dined at Coquelicot, a gorgeous French bistro in the heart of Gemayze, and found myself embarking on a journey that can only be described as a culinary masterpiece.
The feast begins with a wave of mouthwatering appetizers. We sample a selection of tasty treats including smoked salmon rolls, beef brochettes, fresh tuna rolls, and some outstanding spicy chicken bites. The salads are crisp and colorful – one is bursting with succulent citrus fruits, while the other employs a unique ingredient; fava beans (it’s a success, trust me). Hesitantly, I move on to the shrimps bathed in goat cheese and they’re surprisingly incredible. I’m not usually a fan of goat cheese but these creations deploy just the right dose of creaminess and flavor. As the opening round of our meal comes to an end, I bask in the exquisiteness that is the steak tartar followed by the exceptional sesame shrimp. They’re both just extraordinary.
The main courses arrive next, as Coquelicot‘s owner, Mazen Kassem, eloquently emphasizes the mightily impressive quality of US prime beef, and the fascinating details of its aging process. We sample the couer de fillet and the cote de bouef, and they’re both equally marvelous in different ways. Immensely tender, they require no sauce whatsoever. Next comes the orange-glazed duck; it’s terrifically crunchy and a definite standout, while the triple bypass burger (yes you read that right) lives up to its name with its thick, juicy meat. Although I start to get quite full, I still manage to sample two more dishes: the salmon and the mushroom-stuffed chicken. Both are superb. However, the crown jewel here is undoubtedly the grilled Foie Gras. Served on deliciously-moist bread with apples on the side, there are no words to describe the sensational wonder that is this dish. It capably elevates my love of Foie Gras (as inhumane as this delicacy is) to another level.
As I try to catch my breath, a complimentary scoop of green apple sorbet makes it way to our table and it’s absolutely divine. I’m a huge fan of lemon sorbet, but this flavor is a spectacularly refreshing palate cleanser. And finally the dessert, oh the dessert… It’s no secret that Pain Perdu is my all-time favorite dessert, and Coquelicot‘s genius take on the dish just might be my favorite yet. With two generous portions of caramelized-soaked breads, every bite is packed with tremendous flavor and sweetness that still manages to somehow feel light and fluffy. And with a heaping portion of mangoes and bananas, and a scoop of vanilla ice cream on the side? Well, let’s just say I’m in heaven.
The Pain Perdu isn’t the only dessert we sample. Every restaurant has its own version of Nutella crepes, but Coquelicot‘s blows the competition straight out the water. Two ravishing Nutella crepes land on our table with their legs tied together. It reminds me of a stuffed pig being served to slaughter (an appropriate term for the devouring I’m about to indulge in). The crepes ooze with gooey deliciousness and I gobble a whole one up within a matter of seconds.
To bookend the meal, I decide to top everything off with my own special palate cleanser: a luscious chocolat mou that’s remarkably rich and delectable. Apparently, they also serve one with homemade Nutella ice cream, and that little revelation practically ensures I’ll be dropping by again very soon.
It must be stated that Coquelicot is downright captivating to look at with its fine details and cave-like facade. The place brims with an understated elegance and an inviting atmosphere, made even better by some awesome cover tunes handpicked by Mr. Kassem himself. As if I couldn’t love the place more, Mazen divulges a fascinating tidbit that blows my mind: the distinctive handwritten pattern on the couches are the same ones Victoria Grayson barks orders from on Revenge (one of my favorite shows). Suffice to say, Mazen’s attention to detail coupled with his love for food AND good TV (well the show’s first season at least), win me over wholeheartedly.
Price: Around 45$ per person.
Presentation: Each plate is meticulously prepared and presented. A feast for the eyes.
Must try: If I had to pick: the Foie Gras, the couer de fillet, and the Pain Perdu. But seriously, everything.
Go with: A friend, a date, your family – they’ll all love it.
I can’t recommend Coquelicot enough. The scrumptious dishes, the flawless presentation, the warm ambiance – it’s a bonafide marvel in every way. Simply perfect.