It’s difficult to pin down favorites on chef Mike Stoltzfus’ menu simply because his seasonally driven, regionally eclectic menu changes so frequently. It’s a moving target. Fortunately, it’s also compact — a short but sweet lineup of high-caliber dishes that travel beyond the typical New Orleans menu.
You can close your eyes and point, and land a dish like New York strip steak with oxtail ravioli or roasted lamb neck with creamy grits, and either will turn out to be exactly what you wanted. The only downside is, if you fall in love with a dish one day, there’s no guarantee it’ll be there the next time you’re craving it. Case in point: Chitarra, squared strands of pasta named for the string-like instrument it is made on, decked in duck confit, shiitake mushrooms and a clingy, creamy sauce. Or the oyster stew scattered with nuggets of local andouille. Here today, gone tomorrow.
There are a few standards you can usually count on, like shrimp and grits, plump sea scallops in whatever iteration they’re served, or the knock-out appetizer of tempura Gulf shrimp lit up with bittersweet slivers of grapefruit and sambal, a spicy Asian chili sauce.
As fleeting as the menu is, most of the plates at Coquette deliver like house specialties — dishes flawlessly rendered by the kitchen every day. For newcomers, the $20 three-course weekday lunch at Coquette offers an excellent sampling of the menu and a perfect venue to escape the French Quarter and eat like (and with) locals. The $25 three-course brunch is also one of the best un-kept secrets among locals and a great departure from the city’s jazz brunch song and dance.
Locals head to the irresistible corner bistro Coquette for a dynamic, eclectic menu marked by dishes with global influences and seasonal, regional ingredients.