When I first moved to Raleigh back in 2008, the food scene in the Triangle was way different then it is now! There were a handful of restaurant and hospitality groups that dominated the scene including Urban Food Group which owns Chow, Vivace and Coquette. And so recently, I’ve been making some efforts to get back to some of these tried and true restaurants. After a few visits to Coquette I can happily say that this French brasserie has held up well over the years!
Sitting in a premium location at the front of the old North Hills mall area, Coquette offers up a beautiful European design for guests. Brasserie in French means a large open dining room that’s lively and noisy. Coquette totally fits that bill with a continental, white and black tiled floor, leather covered seating, along with a stylish, long bar at the entrance area. Further inside, you’ll find the main dining room with fabric-covered ceilings to quiet the room. The dining here at Coquette feels both casual, European, and civilized, harkening to an earlier time and place. Given the ambiance here at Coquette, you’ll usually run into a 35+ type of crowd who appreciates this type of more traditional dining experience and service.
The menu at Coquette sports all the quintessential French classics you’re typically hankering for: French onion soup, salads, crepes, chilled seafood, steak frites, coq au vin and more. Entrees are in the mid-20s which is about right for a nice, French restaurant, in my opinion. And Coquette conveniently serves up a lunch, brunch, mid-day, and a dinner menu covering all the hours. Over the course of several visits, I’ve had a chance to explore a bit at Coquette and it’s been impressive!
To start with, I’d recommend the classic French onion soup and croquettes! Coquette’s French onion soup has that deep rich beef broth spiked with slices of onion and topped with gooey cheese! A bit of broth-soaked croutons on top makes this soup nearly a meal but it’s such wonderful comfort food on a cold day. The croquettes are wonderful, fried potato balls with gruyere inside. A bit crunchy, a bit cheesy but totally delicious! And the classic truffle frites features skin-on fries flecked with parmesan shards and truffle oil, perfect for delicious dipping.
For lunch, try their steak sandwich! A thick slice of tenderloin tucked underneath arugula, gruyere, and aioli. Such a wonderfully tender piece of beef cooked to medium and contrasted against the greens of the arugula and savory cheese. The wonderful baguette bread that’s wrapped around the sandwich just makes it a perfect bite. For brunch, the classic croque madame is a great, fork and knife sandwich. Ham and gruyere cheese in a grilled sandwich topped with a fried egg. Served with a nice side salad in vinaigrette, it’s a wonderful option for a light but satisfying meal.
And for mains, consider the beef bourguignon or steak frites, two French mainstays. The beef bourguignon pairs tender stewed beef with wide, flat noodles and served in a soft, beef broth. It’s a fantastic meal in colder weather that’s hearty and comforting. The steak frites (choose either a flat iron cut or ribeye) shows off perfectly cooked, medium sliced beef topped with a brandy peppercorn sauce! Paired with the crispy skin-on frites, you’ll have a delicious Gallic take on the classic meat and potatoes meal.
And finishing off your meal at Coquette with chocolate profiteroles stuffed with chocolate mousse and served with raspberry sauce is a very happy ending! On the weekend, Coquette breaks out a weekend brunch menu with more favorites like a crepes, omelettes and benedicts.
One noticeable plus for me at Coquette is the service. Super professional and well-trained, they know how to take care of their customers at the bar or in the dining room. While I usually shy away from long-standing Raleigh restaurants, I’d have to say that Coquette has really held its own over the years. While still offering classic French food in a lovely setting, the prices are a bit higher than I’d like, but certainly in the range of what you’d expect from a slightly, upscale restaurant in North Hills. So a slow round of applause for Coquette! She may be a bit flirty but she still delivers a great dining experience…
4351 The Circle At N Hills Street
Raleigh, NC 27609