Coquette: Hottest Restaurant in the Triangle

coquettefriseesalad

Coquette opened 16 days ago to a fairly small crowd — maybe 60 or 70 guests.  Yesterday, they served nearly 300 customers — for lunch!  A recent story from the News & Observer, focusing on Coquette’s owners, Kevin and Stacey Jennings, hasn’t hurt, but the restaurant served over 400 patrons this past Saturday, the day before the article came out.  Coquette is easily the hottest restaurant in the Triangle, and folks aren’t letting something trivial like the crappy economy get in their way of being seen at this new brasserie.  Hell, I was amazed at how much wine was being poured at lunch yesterday — yes, it was Veteran’s Day, but still, this was lunch.  The restaurant was caught off guard a bit by the number of yesterday’s customers, as they were a bit understaffed in the bar area, but service was still pretty efficient.

I only recognize about 1/3 of the servers at Coquette, as there has been a fair amount of turnover.  That’s natural for any new restaurant, but it’s still sad to know that so many people couldn’t make it here.  I’m pleased to see Jeremy Tornow, the ex-Marine Air Force member, still there.  “I’m not going anywhere,” he tells me with a grin as he hurries to get wine to one of his tables.  When a restaurant is this busy, a waiter can make a really good living.  Particularly a good restaurant.

Coquette has also started its breakfast service, offering a small number of pastries, quiche and omelettes along with some fruit and house-made granola.  Here’s the menu:

Les Omelettes et Les Quiches

Fine Herbes $6

Lorraine $6
ham, caramelized onions, gruyere

Asparagus & Chevre $6

Quiche du Jour $7

Les Cereales et Pan

Croissant de Buerre $3.50

Croissant Amandine $3.50

Pan au Chocolat $3.75

Chocolat Eclair $3.95

Vanil Eclair $3.95

House-Made Granola $6
rolled oats, almonds, cranberries, raisins, hazelnuts

Les Fruits

Bowl of Fresh Fruit
with European Style Yogurt $7

Grapefruit Brulee $4.50

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18 Responses to Coquette: Hottest Restaurant in the Triangle

  1. Rafe says:

    Ate there last week and every dish we had was incredibly good. We had the pea soup, the frisee salad that appears at the top of the post, steak frites, moules frites, and the braised pear dessert. I cannot wait to go back.

  2. Dana says:

    What are your 3 favorite things on the menu?

  3. Varmint says:

    I’ve barely made it through a small portion of the menu, but the moules frites (and just the frites) are great. The soups have all been good — the onion soup is as good as I’ve had anywhere. The skate was OK, but I had that on opening night, and I know they’ve perfected it. The quiche is outstanding, and I don’t really care for quiche. The coq au vin is very strong. I had a croque madame yesterday which was very good, but just a bit too heavy for lunch. Salads are also great.

    Frankly, the kitchen puts out some really good food. My only complaint, and I think they’re fixing that, is that they occasionally have a pretty heavy hand with the salt. The salad that accompanied my sandwich yesterday tasted more of salt than of dressing, which is a slip-up that shouldn’t occur.

  4. MikeB says:

    My wife and I also ate lunch at Coquette on Veteran’s Day. It wasn’t too bad when we got there (noon, on the button) but it was slammed within minutes. Onion Soup is the best in the area, even better than Saint-Jacques. Wife was pleased with the Grilled Shrimp Barigoule. I ensured a nice afternoon nap with the very rich and filling Voilaille (cassoulet) washed down with a witbier.

    There was a bit of an issue with desserts… we ordered profiteroles and the poached pear and waitress confirmed out order as profiteroles and cherry “pancake” (can’t remember the term). We corrected her and assumed everything was fine. Well, the desserts were taking awhile (due to the aforementioned slammed status) and one of the managers came by to apologize and say that our profiteroles and cherry “pancake” would be out shortly. The look on his face was priceless when we told him we actually ordered poached pears. Scott Luetgenau eventually brought us the proper desserts and removed them from the bill (though we didn’t think that was necessary).

    I thought the service was great, aside from the dessert snafu. Those refreshing water/ice, topping off coffee, and bussing tables were definitely on their game. I expected these sort of service details to suffer when the restaurant is slammed.

    We definitely will make dining at Coquette a regular event.

  5. Jeremy Tornow says:

    I’m Airforce…. Still in the Reserves to!!! To everyone reading, come dine with us. You won’t be disappointed!!

  6. Varmint says:

    Damn, sorry about that. Will fix, Jeremy! Such an insult to the Air Force!

  7. foodnetwork says:

    Do the writers of this site work at Coquette? Every other article is about them. You mention only recognizing 1/3 of the servers. Seriously? Like who notices that? The restaurant has only been open for 2 weeks, do you mean retained workers from South? I love the food there. Well priced and great decor. Hope they continue with their success!!!

  8. Varmint says:

    There’s only one writer — me! Please see the box on the top right of this blog for all of the Coquette posts. I’ve been covering the opening of Coquette and have chronicled it from early construction until today. So when I said that I only recognized 1/3 of the staff, that’s from the first day of training before the restaurant opened.

  9. susan says:

    After bringing the family on the first Saturday night it was open, I brought a friend last evening. It was a wonderful place for an after-work cocktail and some nice cheese. It was great to pretend we weren’t actually in North Hills (had to squint to avoid spotting REI!). It sounds like the breakfast and brunch will be amazing as well. Someone said something about a crepe filled with apple and brie…..

  10. mssc54 says:

    That picture….

    Is that Donald Trump’s old hair piece?

  11. Ross says:

    Were there tonight and good thing we had reservations – it was literally three deep at the bar and standing room only until we left well after 9. The meal was perfect – escargot (to me, not as good or as plentiful as St. Jacques) was very good, onion soup very nice, coq au vin was exceptional (juicy and so tender, hard to believe it was chicken) and the Thursday special, Half Poulet Roti’s crunchy and flavorful skin was a joy. The cherry and also the pear desserts were interesting and well portioned.

    All in all it was a great evening, and as busy as they were the staff was courteous, knowledgeable, and prompt. The one spoiler was a tall, dark, hawkish man that kept coming around to steal our plates literally before we were on the last mouthful. To make matters worse, as we were leaving his comment of “finally!,” which could clearly be heard above the cacophony, was utterly tactless, and frankly spoiled the whole meal.

    So to sum up, this place is a pale imitation of St. Jacques. I now feel disloyal for even trying another French restaurant. Especially since St. Jacques is a true French restaurant, in menu AND spirit, where a comment in such poor taste as “finally!” would never be uttered in the presence of a guest.

  12. Scott Luetgenau says:

    Ross,

    I appreciate your comments regarding your meal and service. What you overheard from one of our staff members is incredibly disappointing. We strive to hire people based on their ability to take care of others and make them feel welcome. This is the basis of our hiring process. Unfortunately, not everyone is capable of such caring service and unfortunately this isn’t always evident in the hiring process.

    I would encourage you to contact me to discuss the details of your experience and invite you back into the restaurant as our guests to give you the experience that you deserve.

    I would also like to say that while St. Jacques is an incredible restaurant, we are a completely different genre of dining which focuses on more casual, rustic, regional French cuisine with a more relaxed style of service that is prompt, informative and unobtrusive.

    This is in no way an excuse for the comment you overheard and I hope you accept our sincere apologies and take me up on my offer to have you back in Coquette.

    Scott Luetgenau
    Director of Operations
    The Urban Food Group
    scott@urbanfoodgroup.com
    919.539.5047

  13. Scot says:

    I like Coquette, from my one visit, I’ll go back many times I think, and UFG really does some nice restaurants and have an awesome philosphy. I gotta say I agree with Ross, and although it’s your blog, write about what moves you, seems a little Coquette-centric the last couple months (second time you’ve reprinted all or part of the menu/price list? what’s up with that?). Give us more recipes like your buttermilk pie!

    From my visit? I only stopped for appetizers. The onion soup wasn’t my favorite, a little too much oniony pungency, not enough savor and beefy oomph; I preferred the dish I had at Porter’s the next night. It was a little loud (a lot of hard surfaces, and loud seems to be the trend in new restaurants; maybe it’s a brasserie thing). The wine list was really neat, some things you see in France that you don’t see so much here. The server was AWESOME – I’ve never gotten less than excellent, and I do mean excellent, service at a UFG restaurant. I can’t wait to go back, as it seems like it’s going to be really nicely done, as good as what was served at South, but more like comfort food even if it’s a little exotic than fried chicken.

  14. Varmint says:

    Again, this was a special series of articles about Coquette, because the owners and management gave me complete access to everything and everyone associated with the restaurant. I’m pretty much done with the coverage of Coquette. FWIW, I’ve separately posted the dinner, lunch and breakfast menus.

    And my next piece will be on something near and dear to my heart: Eastern style North Carolina barbecue!

  15. amanda says:

    SO excited to try Coquette when I’m home for Christmas in NC — I’m a North Carolina Ex-Pat living in Tennessee so it’s always awesome to see what Raleigh is up to. Can’t wait to try this.

    Oh, and looking forward to the Barbecue Piece: THERE IS NOTHING LIKE IT OUT HERE IN TENNEESSEE.

  16. Sonia says:

    So excited to hear your review of Coquette. I’m going to convince my husband to meet me there for lunch one day before I need to pick up our litttle one down the street from preschool.

    I’m even more excited to see you have a blog. I love your comments and reviews on e-gullet. Amazing what you’ll find when you google locopops Raleigh.

  17. Jeannette says:

    It was very busy and our meal arrived at a snails pace. We were disappointed when they were out of a 2 menu items and a dessert. The wrong entree was delivered to my niece, and her dessert accidentally went to another table. The homemade bread was delicious and definitely was a bright spot. My moules had to be sent back because they arrived lukewarm. It may be helpful to have descriptions of the desserts on the dessert menu. Having lived in France, I knew what a Poire was, but I felt this might be intimidating to people who don’t know French vocabulary. Hopefully, they will get the kinks worked out.

  18. Varmint says:

    Greg Cox of the News & Observer wrote a most enjoyable review of Coquette today, giving it 4-1/2 stars.

    http://www.newsobserver.com/1132/story/1395758.html

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