So if you happen to be on my Facebook or follow me on Twitter, you know all about the trip I took a few weeks back to the Big Easy. New Orleans was hands down incredible – food, culture, fun. I planned the trip well in advance and luckily made a reservation at Cochon before it was nominated and won (!) the James Beard Award for Best Chef : South 2011! I can say after my painfully delicious meal there, that award was so well deserved…
Donald Link, who also helms Herbsaint, and Calcasieu, and Stephen Stryjewski, who officially won the JB Award, conceived Cochon and wanted to highlight Cajun-style, regional cuisine using local ingredients. The restaurant is in the warehouse district in New Orleans, and they followed it up with Cochon Butcher (also fab) next door, which has more of a sandwich / charcuterie / bar food / butcher menu with a lovely wine selection as well. Yes, a butcher that serves wine.
Cochon has an open kitchen layout with simple banquettes and tables. The focus is all food – which is homey, rich, and flavorful. The menu is an all day one, so I went for lunch my first day in New Orleans (and it was packed!).
We started with the amazing wood-fired oyster roast, drizzled with this spicy, soppable garlic butter. The fried gator with chili garlic aioli, spicy grilled pork ribs with watermelon pickle, and fried boudin with pickled peppers were also really killer. Boudin is originally a French, pork sausage. The NOLA version eschews casing the sausage in favor of rolling it into a ball and crisp, batter-frying it. I never said this was a light lunch.
For the mains (I know. can you imagine we ate this much?), we had the oven-roasted gulf fish “fisherman’s style”, smoked beef brisket with horseradish potato salad, mac and cheese, and the most buttery, black peppered grits I’ve tasted. Smoked brisket, by the way, like gumbo or etouffee, is a rite of passage down there. We were sufficiently comatosed from just how filling, perfectly seasoned, well-cooked, and all around delectable the meal was. Oh, and the fresh-baked bread hot out of the oven? Out. Of. This. World.
We obviously couldn’t leave without dessert, and the black bottomed brown butter banana cream pie was the best version of banana cream pie I’ve ever had. Hands down.
This place is a NOLA must and WILL be a stop the next time I head down there!