This feature is brought to you by our friends at Stella Artois.
Le Coq Rico in New York City’s Flatiron District calls itself the “bistro of beautiful birds.” There, Chef Antoine Westermann crafts a daily ode to all things poultry, from eggs to entire birds. While Chef Westermann has four restaurants in Paris, the American outpost of Le Coq Rico is the one place that you can sample Chef Westermann’s cuisine here in the U.S. That is unless you happened to attend last week’s French feast presented by Chowhound, Feastly, and Stella Artois.
For one night only, Chef Westermann and his team brought the Le Coq Rico experience to a warmly lit Chelsea loft, where two long tables were set with leafy floral arrangements and glowing candlelight. The Chef himself made the rounds as guests arrived and wasted no time getting the poultry party started with appetizers like duck rillette tartines and chicken curry croquettes. Many had their hands full with miniature mugs of creamy gazpacho in one hand and freshly poured Stellas in the other.
Although Chef Westermann is well known as a poultry expert, this dinner also celebrated another versatile ingredient. As we sat down to dine, Le Coq Rico’s general manager Anthony Battaglia explained how each of the evening’s three courses would incorporate beer.
To begin, we were treated to a foie gras dish from a man who knows a thing or two about this specialty: Le Coq Rico’s Executive Chef Guillaume Ginther. Just about six months after Le Coq Rico opened in New York last March, Ginther represented the restaurant at the World Series of pâté (formally known as the Pâté Croûte American Finale). He brought home the top honors and went on to take third place when he represented the U.S. in the world championship. But for last week’s feast, it wasn’t all business as usual. This time, his Hudson Valley duck foie gras was paired with a beer bread roll and small cubes of pale yellow beer reduction jelly.
The second course presented us with the restaurant’s name sake: Le Coq itself. Each guest was served a heaping plate of Brune Landaise chicken that had been poached and roasted in beer. According to Battaglia, Chef Westermann learned about American chicken breeds while working in Washington, D.C.. Now, his restaurant partners with local farmers who pasture-raise their chickens. And furthermore, these particular chickens had been raised for 120 days—that’s double or triple the age of most birds you’d find at a typical market. As Westermann once explained to Esquire, this means that “they’ve had time to develop texture and flavor.” Each plate at the pop-up feast carried at least two different pieces of chicken, giving us the chance to sample different flavors and textures from breast to leg.
While poultry didn’t make an appearance in the final dessert course, beer was represented in more ways than one. Two thick slices of brioche had actually been soaked in Stella Artois, then nestled against a poached pear and a scoop of beer ice cream. While the beer flavor was subtle, I thought I detected a delightful bit of fizzy carbonation in the ice cream. But after three decadent courses with a Stella chalice that never went dry, it’s possible the bubbles were just in my head. One way or another, the rich pain perdu was a delectable conclusion to a dreamy evening.