One of our favorite restaurants to open in the last couple of years, Rebelle reintroduced New York diners to the culinary stylings of expat Daniel Eddy, whose previous post was at Spring in Paris, under Chicago native, Daniel Rose. And now our cups runneth over, as Rose has made his way from France to New York as well, making his American debut, Le Coucou, on the border of Little Italy.
Got all that? It’s equally important to know that Rose’s partner in his first stateside venture is none other than Stephen Starr — Philadelphia’s preeminent restaurateur — who’s also behind over-the-top Big Apple spots like, The Clocktower, Buddakan, Morimoto and El Vez. But this current collaboration is a lot more akin to his considerably subtler Upland; a low key but impressive showcase for the chef Justin Smillie. So while Le Coucou is certainly not immune to trademark, Starr-style extravagances (think hand-blown chandeliers, triple hung windows, 600-bottle wine lists and even starched white tablecloths), Rose’s restrained, ingredient-driven cooking remains blessedly front and center.
Having previously described the establishment as a “Lutece reboot,” his goal is perfecting French classics, not reinterpreting them. Which is why you’ll find items as straightforward as Poireaux — poached leeks in vinaigrette, topped with a smattering of hazelnuts — and as antiquated as Pike Quenelles, bathed in sauce américaine. Save for a splash of green tomato juice, he resists getting clever with classic Dover Sole, and Bourride is reliant on the sum of its impeccable parts; namely, Santa Barbara spot prawns, mussels and clams, bathed in a ﬁsh fumet. If there’s a signature Rose offering, it’s the Tout le Lapin; literally translated to “All of the Rabbit.” Actually three dishes in one, it features medallions of liver-stuffed saddle, a crock of oven-roasted legs, and a pot containing a redolent broth, made from chest and belly. (Not super summery, but super satisfying!)
We never imagined we’d say this, but it seems a young American is serving some of the most formidable French fare in all of NYC.
138 Lafayette Street