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Restaurants & Bars 5

Brief dining report: Cochon, and others

280 Ninth | Mar 21, 200802:41 PM

So I was in town last week for business, like so many others, and had in mind to visit Cochon, the "it" restaurant in n.o., or so it appears to this out-of-towner. I was not disappointed.

The aroma.

The aroma walking into that restaurant is what I hope it's like walking into heaven, because--gosh darn it!--the smell was enough to induce unearthly bliss. Wow. WOW. My knees were buckling by the time I got to my seat.

The menu is not extensive, but it appears that items are well-chosen. I was struggling over whether to do small-plates (the fried pig's ears sounded good), or entree (Louisiana Cochon), and after a few sips of Cabernet (good), I decided to choose the latter. Started with a white bean and ham soup, which was laced with an intriguing smokiness and satisfying richness. The entree was done, well, perfectly...browned on top, moist beneath, and the turnips (?) were a great compliment to the meat above. Service was terrific. I had gotten a glass of Cote du Rhone, which was flat, and they took it back with nary the bat of an eyelash, while recommending the Cab, which had complexity and a far more discernible finish. After the entree, I was sad that I hadn't any room left for dessert.
All in all, very satisfying. I'd go back for small plates next time.

Earlier in the day, I had happened by W.I.N.O., sampled some reds, and had the pleasure of examining their selections. Don't recall what I sampled, but I wasn't wowed by anything I tried. Very impressed, though, by the selections for sale, and by the staff, which is solitious and knowledgeable. Took back a Robert Foley Vineyards 2006 Charbono that I'm eager to try, along with a Clos Trottelegotte 2003 Cahors. If any CHs want a report of these tastings, just holler. W.I.N.O. is a wonderful resource, and I was very pleased to stumble into it.

Other dining venues on this trip were far less satisfying, and suffice it to say that I won't soon return to either place: Cafe Amelie, whose courtyard is lovely, does not have the cuisine to match. Ho hum oysters, and a drum entree that was well-prepared but lacked much flavor. When I bit into the andouille sausage accomapnying the entree, it lacked all flavor. Not impressive. Nice service, though, and an impressive spot for a restaurant. I was kicking myself for not having waited until Irene's had tables available.

Second spot, Tommy's. Lovely interior, great service, but the lamb chops I ordered medium rare were cooked ranging from practically uncooked to well-done, all on the same plate! I had to laugh. I also didn't get the appeal of serving what appeared to be a half-pound piece of broccoli with the drum entree...it looked kinda perverse sitting there, like an uprooted tree. The chef didn't prepare it well, and it was over-steamed. Very uneven results from the kitchen, though it was very busy when we were there, and actually I might try Tommy's again, earlier comments notwithstanding...

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