It’s hard to believe that Coquette will turn 10 this year. It feels like it’s occupied its tin-ceilinged, chandeliered, bistro-chic space forever. We mean this in the best way—it’s smart and polished, and altogether comfortable in its skin, even if that skin changes daily. We’re sure that somewhere in an attic Chef/Owner Michael Stoltzfus has a menu that’s aging—because his well of culinary creativity seems to keep Coquette eternally fresh. That, plus dedication to ingredient perfectionism, and top talent heading the bar and pastry programs, lands Coquette firmly in the upper echelon of New Orleans’s restaurants and makes it one of our perennial favorites. For it to get any better, they'd have to add another one of the city's best chefs. Wait, that's Kristin Essig, and you'll want to dine here while she in the house.
Whatever we suggest will be long gone by the time you dine (and what you should really do if possible is spring for the five-course blind tasting menu; on some Tuesdays it's discounted to a ridiculous $45—the single best deal in town). Tuna crudo interspersed with compressed cantaloupe and garnished with herb-dusted popcorn had us chuckling with delight. Chicken-fried sweetbreads on a blueberry puree are a miracle in the mouth; baby eggplant paired with ricotta gnocchi over a chilled peach-tomato sauce wasn’t a beautiful sight—but was altogether divine on the palate. If any version of cheesecake is on the menu, make that your choice, unless you’re a chocolate lover. Then get the pudding and the delicate strawberry vacherin (for balance). If all this sounds a bit daunting, the $30 three-course lunch menu is more than a po'boy, but a great deal for the quality.