Coquette, on the corner of Washington and Magazine.
It was just like me not to make reservations, but though the corner restaurant was packed (people were even dining at the bar), it didn't take more than 15-20 minutes before we scored a table. We ordered quickly after perusing the menu during our wait, and it wasn't long before our food came flooding out of the kitchen.
First and foremost, I have to talk about the bread. Anytime you go out to dinner, quite often a basket of bread will be brought to the table and though filling, it isn't always something you remember fondly about the meal. At Coquette, they serve a warm loaf of their own, house-made ciabatta that is so tasty, it will literally knock your socks off. This divine loaf is sliced and served with a sea-salt enhanced, creamy butter that John and I gobbled without reservation or concern about having enough room left over to eat what we had actually ordered.
I selected the Tempura Shrimp with a garnish of sambal (chili sauce), grapefruit, nicoise olives and cilantro. The large pieces of shrimp were fried perfectly with a crispy, tasty batter. Both of us commented on the odd combination of grapefruit slices and pitted olives, but I thought it was a nice shock of contrasting flavors.
For his entree, John picked the Steak Frites, sliced pieces of rare hangar steak piled high with French fries and drizzled with a shallot vinaigrette (for the steak) and malt aioli (for the fries). His dish was so tasty that I continuously poked my fork into his plate stealing flavor-drenched fries and, on occasion, a nice hunk of steak. But, in all fairness, John was doing the same thing to me.
Finally, we had what was likely one of the most unusual desserts I have ever eaten, Butterscotch Pudding with broken snicker doodles, bourbon and bacon ice cream. I am a huge sucker for anything Butterscotch, so it was not difficult to make my choice, but I have to admit that the bacon ice cream really struck me as being particularly delicious. Rich with a smoky flavor, it is an ice cream that, though delicious, I would not be able to eat in large quantities. Only one thing would deter me from ordering it again and that was the foam garnish on top. Maybe I will never be one to appreciate the latest fads in haute cuisine, but I will never understand foam. It recalls to mind the wickedness of my youth when salting snails in my backyard could keep me entertained for hours on end. C'est la vie!