I had a vision for the restaurant that would be the subject of Paris Update’s last review of the summer season. It might be more expensive than the places we normally cover here, but we would be seated in a cool flower- and tree-filled garden, protected from the city‘s traffic noise and pollution, and we would dine on gourmet food served by friendly, efficient and unobtrusive waiters.
Alas, it was not to be – all such places were already fully booked for the appointed evening. Instead, we found ourselves sitting on one of those temporary wooden terraces set up in former parking spaces, invented during the first summer of the pandemic to allow restaurants to open for outdoor dining. This was a nicer-than-usual one because it was situated on the picturesque winding cobblestone Rue Lepic in Montmartre, but we were right next to the traffic, with the no. 40 bus (luckily, electric and fairly silent) and roaring, fume-spitting motorcycles zipping past us. Where were we? At Le Coq & Fils, the much-lauded “Poultry House,” specialists in all edible clucking, cheeping, egg-laying birds, owned by the famed three-star chef Antoine Westermann.
We could have taken a table in the air-conditioned interior but preferred to be outdoors for the air and light and the relative safety from Covid.
I was happy to see one of my favorite foods on the menu of starters: chicken livers, which are totally absent from Paris menus, except in Lebanese restaurants. Naturally, I ordered them. They came grilled on toast spread with horseradish and topped with thinly sliced radishes, a delightful combination.
My dining companion chose the tasty (especially the gravy that came with them) giblet-filled empanadas with confit lemon, fresh herbs and the house condiment, “Chic’up.”
And what about the poultry, which is supposed to be so wonderful here? To prove how serious it is about sourcing, the restaurant prints on the menu a long, detailed list of each type of free-range bird, including the breed, the name of the farm it was raised on and its owner and location, all in France. Even the source of the organic eggs is noted, as is the “Westermann-style” cooking method for the poultry: poached in broth, then cooked on the rotisserie.
Customers can choose individual servings (€25-€52) or whole birds to share (€83-€152 for two). We chose to split a Cou Nu des Vignes de Bourgueil, a funny-looking breed with a feather-less neck, found in the vineyards of Bourgueil, where it helps out by consuming insects and weeds, and fertilizing the soil with its excrement. Having served its purpose, it was now served to us, aged 160 days, as noted on the menu, cut up into its component parts.
I’m sorry to say that we were disappointed by this pedigreed bird. The white meat was dry, and in spite of its apparently fine provenance, the chicken as a whole was no better than something we could have popped into the oven ourselves at home. In fact, it wasn’t as good as what we could have cooked at home, since we both own clay chicken bricks, which produce perfectly cooked birds every time, with crispy skin and juicy flesh throughout, even the breasts.
I actually enjoyed my accompaniment much more. As a mac-and-cheese freak, I was absolutely thrilled by the macaroni gratin, and the fries were not bad. The mixed vegetables and salad were nothing special.
The desserts, however, were top-notch. Since a whole chicken for two is very filling, we were really pleased to see “shots,” on the menu, in other words, small servings of dessert for the reasonable price of €5. My friend had the incredibly rich chocolate mousse, obviously made with some very, very high-quality dark chocolate and paired with a bit of grapefruit marmalade.
I went for the “Coq’lonel,” lime sorbet with basil, egg-white emulsion and bison-grass vodka. The last-mentioned ingredient added an interesting, slightly bitter flavor to this light, refreshing dessert.
If you go to Coq & Fils, we recommend that you opt for the individual servings – a whole chicken is a lot for two people – or maybe try the quail, pigeon or guinea fowl instead of the chicken. And if you sit on the terrace, located across the street from the restaurant, you may well wonder why the chicken crossed the road.Favorite