4 Fleur
EntreePrice-23
BreakfastNo Breakfast SundayNo Breakfast MondayNo Breakfast TuesdayNo Breakfast WednesdayNo Breakfast ThursdayNo Breakfast FridayNo Breakfast Saturday
LunchLunch SundayNo Lunch MondayNo Lunch TuesdayNo Lunch WednesdayNo Lunch ThursdayLunch FridayLunch Saturday
DinnerDinner SundayDinner MondayDinner TuesdayDinner WednesdayDinner ThursdayDinner FridayDinner Saturday

Coquette

Uptown 1: Garden District & Environs: 2800 Magazine St. 504-265-0421. Map.
Nice Casual.
AE DC DS MC V
Website

ANECDOTES AND ANALYSIS
He’s never come out and said it, but I get the impression from dining in Chef Michael Stoltfus’s restaurant that his main goal is to keep the restaurant in a state of flux. That’s not uncommon among our gourmet eateries, but Michael takes that direction a few more steps farther than most. In my review of a few years ago, I used the phrase “The menu is written in sand.” That still applies, even the patch of sand and the handwriting is different from the last time.

Coquette was one of the two or three best restaurants of 2009. (It opened late in 2008.) The menu went off in many directions from the beginning, but about half of the entree choices were familiar food. But then he got original, and with a daily list of about six entrees it was frustrating to figure an order that merged with one’s idea of a satisfying dinner. By building a main course out of one or two small plates, that brings the variety up to par.

A corner of Coquette.

A corner of Coquette.

WHY IT’S NOTEWORTHY
The restaurant market is ever in need of restaurants that back away from all traditions without making us crazy. Chef Michael fills that role rather well. That said, this is not the place to go with a friend who is very conservative about his eating preferences. You are here to be edified by the chef. If that doesn’t work for you, it might be an uneasy repast.

Fried oysters with sweetbreads.

Fried oysters with sweetbreads.

WHAT’S GOOD
The direction of Chef Michael’s menu lately points to rustic, almost primitive foods. He goes after exquisite raw materials that come from careful farmers, butchers and fishermen. It is likely that several dishes will be vegetarian, or close it. Don’t write those off as not your bag.

BACKSTORY
Chef Michael Stoltzfus and dining room orchestrator Lillian Hubbard are a couple that came together in New Orleans because of family connections after Katrina. Michael learned his craft on the eastern shore of Maryland, which has much of the same seafood we do here in New Orleans. Both worked with John Besh at Restaurant August. Lillian and some of her staff were in the dining room at nearby neighbor Commander’s Palace.

The building was an 1880s-era townhouse. It was an auto parts store for a long time until a 2004 renovation. It hosted a succession of three previous restaurants. When the last of these shut down, Michael and Lillian jumped in.

Scallop.

Scallop.

DINING ROOM
The building is spacious and a bit grand. Dining rooms on two floors. The downstairs, with its oversize bar, tall ceilings, tile floor and mirrors, has an unambiguous old New Orleans feeling. The brick-walled, windowed upstairs is actually the more pleasant place to dine, with almost too much space between and above tables. The stairs to the second floor are a bit more challenging than most, so if you have a problem with climbing, reserve a first-floor table.

REVIEWER’S NOTEPAD
More ruminations appear in our Dining Diary. Click on any of the dates below for those reports, each written a few days after a meal at Coquette.
12/11/2011 ~

BEST DISHES
The menu changes constantly. Dishes marked with a » are the sort of things they do best.

Starters
»Fried Gulf oysters, blood orange, baby fennel, sorrel
Grilled baby carrots, cashews, charred scallions, guajillo chile
»Seafood stew, collard greens, shrimp toast
Louisiana rice shrimp, crawfish tails, hogshead cheese
Charred broccoli parmesan, white anchovy
Crudités; seasonal preparations
Smoked catfish dip, celery root, beets, pistachio
»Fried chicken, hot paprika, whipped honey, cucumber

Entrees
»Hanger steak to share, pimiento cheese, cabbage
»Red snapper romesco, Tuscan kale, celery root
»Quail, chaurice sausage, crowder peas, parsley, scallion
Butternut squash, farro piccolo, brussels, cipollini onion
Smoked pork jowl, cabbage, creamer potato, mustard
»Fried catfish, pink-eye peas, smoked onion, sunny side egg
»Duck for two, dirty rice, bay leaf, baby turnips

Baked oysters with fennel.

Baked oysters with fennel.

FOR BEST RESULTS
Reservations are essential, especially when there’s anything going on in town that attracts the gourmets and bar patrons.

OPPORTUNITIES FOR IMPROVEMENT
Maybe it my old Creole palate, but I often feel that the food needs a little touch of something. Some of the ingredients seem almost too fresh, if that makes any sense.

FACTORS OTHER THAN FOOD
Up to three points, positive or negative, for these characteristics. Absence of points denotes average performance in the matter.

  • Dining Environment +2
  • Consistency
  • Service+1
  • Value +1
  • Attitude +1
  • Wine & Bar +1
  • Hipness +2
  • Local Color +2

 

SPECIAL ATTRIBUTES

  • Sidewalk tables
  • Romantic
  • Good view
  • Good for business meetings
  • Open Sunday lunch and dinner
  • Historic
  • Easy, nearby parking
  • Reservations accepted

4 Readers Commented

Join discussion
  1. Kathryn on August 24, 2014

    Enjoyed Coquette’s Coolinary Special this evening and it was excellent! The flavors are so fresh and distinct. The service and atmosphere were extraordinary also. We will return soon.

  2. Paul J on January 5, 2016

    Stumbled in here for brunch this past Sunday after failing to make plans for a Commander’s Palace-type. The room is breathtaking (we sat upstairs). Beautiful. Food was outstanding. Could have used more guidance from our server with the 3-course brunch menu, as we ended up ordering way too much food. Overall, it was fantastic and I would definitely recommend it. There is love in the food prep.

  3. Steve Koeppel on January 14, 2017

    Seems to have been some significant change in personnel and format. Food, while still good, is not like it used to be 4 months ago. I didn’t recognize anyone. Went for typical Friday lunch, when it is usually packed, and the place was only about one third full.Had a turkey and dried shrimp gumbo that was more like soup than any gumbo I’ve ever had or made, Been a regular for years but that may have been my last trip.

  4. Guy Johnson on September 24, 2017

    Had a party of 6 and one of us effectively had to sit in the aisle – with a great view to inside the bathroom. When I DINE, I expect a DINING room.

    I had the snapper. It was fresh – broiled ok. In a mayonnaise base. Nothing special.

    TOMMENT:
    You wouldn’t be here if you had rejected that table and said you would wait for one that wasn’t in traffic. That’s all you need to do! Defensive dining.

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