Le Coq is exactly the restaurant that Oak Park needs. As JoanB has aptly put it, the nice restaurants in Oak Park suck*. Our village should be primo locale for hot chefs seeking a suburban base, with our urbanity, our upward mobility and our overall collective refusal to believe we actually live in a suburb but it is not. Le Coq has finally stepped into the void.
Le Coq expertly mimics a real Parisian bistro, coming just short of the nicotine stained walls and the dogs underneath the tables. This is pure imitation, not derivative imitation as you would find in a LEY place. The place is incredibly compact but the bistro clad servers navigated the place well. More important, the owners walked the narrow aisle replacing dropped forks and otherwise pitching in--although truth be told his assistance on ordering desserts was pretty much useless as he loved them all.
Before dessert we had the bouillabaisse (Ms. VI) and a pork roast (me). The bouillabaisse was a tad contemporary, surely missing the classic fishes and the even more cruicial, rouille, but it had a very well cooked, non-traditional scallop, and the fishes and seafood were so well cooked, with tons of safron, that the heck with authenticity. My pork roast, fatty and including bones, hardly made a summer dinner, but what the heck on that too. I really ordered the dish for the cabbage studded bacon, or was that the bacon studded cabbage on the side, and that part of the dish did not fail at all.
On the side we got the pureed potatoes, on advice of the waiter, and the ratatouille. I have this image of Thomas Keller making mashed potatoes once, from some TV show, Cook's Tour I think, where he kept on adding more and more butter and he kept on pushing the whole thing through a sieve, and I think the cooks at Le Coq saw the same episode. On the other hand, the ratatouille tasted mostly of canned tomatoes.
Those desserts, a chocolate marquise and a tropical fruit sorbet profiterole thing, desribed in detail to us, both matched the love. In fact we went from wanting one to getting two. I was especially happy with sticking with the advice on the homemade pistachio ice cream for the marquis.
I think most of us, well me for sure, like bistros for the food on the menu and the allusion to classic French cooking. It is stuff that is almost always good just for being on the plate. I thought that Le Coq took it a step more. It tasted of the chef. Expert preperations and care in the kitchen made the food taste that much better. I very much intend on making myself a regular.
Although as I work towards regularness, I do have one small issue. I found the menu, while firmly traditional, seemed a bit more authentic as to long time Americanized bistro's than classic French bistros. In other words, a bit safe in its choices. For instance, none of the selections including anything offally or bloddy. Also, there are no specials, only a daily plat. I would wish for a bit of attention to seasonality. I mean that ratatouille should be on the menu next December, and I suppose it would be just as average.
734 Lake St
Oak Park, IL 60301
Phone: (708) 848-2233
*But remember, there are plenty of good restaurants NEAR Oak Park: Jimmy's, Bistro Marzubet, La Quebrada, etc.
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