The newest in the ever-expanding roster of French restaurants in South Philly, Coquette, has had a particularly difficult birth. The chef and the sous-chef (who was also his wife) quit only five weeks after opening. The liquor license was delayed by nearly 90 days thanks to interference from state Sen. Vincent Fumo’s office. A woman crashed her car through Coquette’s window. But what about the food? Craig LaBan dug it:
There is something to be said for a platter of oysters glistening beneath the briny chill of their natural liquor. And Coquette has already established itself as one of the few good raw bars east of Broad, which isn’t surprising considering that Neff’s Sansom Street Oyster House is the best raw bar west of Broad. Our bluepoints were ideal, as were the meaty Skookums in their ruffle-edged shells. I devoured the sweet, fleshy snap of the littleneck clams and the tender moistness of delicately poached shrimp cocktail. When it comes to actual cooking, Coquette’s kitchen generally delivers solid renditions of bistro basics. The Lyonnaise salad has a bracingly acidic vinaigrette to counter the bitter frisee greens and the richness of lardon bacon, cubed potatoes, and carefully poached egg. The cassoulet is a hearty reason in itself to come Wednesday night, when it’s the plat du jour, the meatily flavored white beans nestled into a terrine around a shank of herby duck confit, soft boudin blanc sausage, and a caramelized strip of slab bacon. Coquette serves a fine steak-frites for $17, the hanger meat permeated with a garlicky marinade, the fries handmade (though they could have been more crisp). The “Bar steak,” a cut of boneless short rib, was tenderized for a quick sear rather than a braise, and I savored the marbled meat’s flavor as it mingled with the side of creamed spinach and the “a cheval” yolk of a sunny-side-up egg.
Also, this gem from the review:
The service should also rethink its manners, if Suresh Joseph is to be believed. Joseph, a cell biologist at Thomas Jefferson University, was simmering at the bar after receiving a brush-off from his server, and a long wait for dry roasted chicken, because “there was a famous food critic in the house and that his attention[s] were therefore being diverted.”Bad excuse - even if I had, unfortunately, been spotted. If it’s any consolation, our service wasn’t so snappy, either, and my roasted chicken (eaten on a previous visit) was also memorably dry. So much for special treatment.