When you make Bon Appetit's 20 Most Important Restaurants of 2013 list along with the Daily Meal's 101 Best Restaurants in America in the same week, you must be doing something right. So of course Cochon was up at the top of my list for my first visit to the city of New Orleans. Three hours after I landed, I hoofed it over to this busy restaurant for my first meal! And let's just say that Cochon did not disappoint me at all...
Located a bit outside of the downtown core New Orleans, Cochon is a foodie beacon in the middle of the night. With a large 20' neon sign out front, you're drawn like a moth to bright light. Inside, Cochon is pretty casual, no white tablecloths, busy bar on the left, roaring wood-fired oven in back, you don't immediately realize you're in for something special. But when you hit the hostess stand and get the wait time, you realize that Cochon is just a wee bit popular. Thankfully I'm dining single so I just need to find a spot by the bar and chill out until a seat opens up.
Thirty minutes later, a spot opens and I'm on it like white on rice. I review the menu while drinking a nice Tin Roof Blonde. Chatting up my neighbor who's eaten here many times, I go with the fried alligator bites and cochon, the namesake dish for the restaurant. My fried alligator bites arrive and it's an interesting starter. Crunchy, fried bites slathered with a bit of rich sauce and highlighted with mint leaves, it's an interesting flavor sensation. The alligator is a bit chewy and has a seafood taste but meaty texture. Add in the chili aioli and you've got a wonderful melange of flavors. Crunchy, savory, spicy and clean (mint), this appetizer is quite the flavor mix. The coating for the alligator tail is thick, crunchy but not heavy at all. Very nice job in the fryer, I'm curious as to what exactly the batter and coating is made of.
So yes, I'm pretty happy with the start of my meal at Cochon, and I can't wait for my main. My cochon main is an interesting entree. A large plump, round of seared pork along with various braised veggies and crunchy cracklins (pork rinds) which weren't greasy at all. Cochon is a dish similar to NC barbeque. Slow-roasted pork with a nicely seared outside, the tender meat is contrasted against the stewed veggies with a bit of tang. The cracklins act as a wonderful sponge, sopping up the broth that comes with the cochon and providing some crunch to the meal, yum!
And finally, dessert! A slightly traditional pineapple upside-down cake with lime sorbet. The cake is delicately, moist cornmeal with a nicely carmelized bottom ring, sweet and crispy. The top has a sprinkling of sauteed pineapple bits and paired with the tang of the sorbet, makes for a great dessert and tasty sweet ending! Service at Cochon's bar was solid and given how hectic the restaurant is, Cochon impressed with it's dishes, service and sweets. And while Cochon can be pretty busy, leaving you in the lurch for a 30 - 45 minute wait at the low end, the food here is well worth it. And once you get your seat, just sit back, relax and enjoy all that wonderfully prepared pork and seafood coming out of Cochon's kitchen. Bon appetite!
930 Tchoupitoulas St
New Orleans, LA 70130
Cochon - Reviewer: Ron Wen - Rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars