Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Coquette New Orleans

Coquette is my corner bistro, a friendly neighborhood place where everybody knows your name.
Owners, Chef Michael Stolzfus and Lillian Hubbard make it that way. They are a couple, and Coquette is their baby.

Coquette is located in a great corner building in The Irish Channel, on Magazine Street at the corner of Washington Ave.

The renovation is so spectacular, with exposed brick, crystal chandeliers, a fabulous wood bar, gas lights outside, just every detail perfect.

It was once a rundown car parts store, and has been several restaurants since its renovation in 2004.

First it was a Surf and Turf place that was over priced and under whelming and it closed within months. Then it was a place called Table One that was an oasis after Katrina, one of the first places that opened. I celebrated my birthday there. Table One closed too, the food never being able to live up to the fabulous space.

There was one more restaurant in the space before Coquette, an Asian place that added zebra carpeting and fake orchids everywhere. It was awful!!!

Finally, the handiwork of chef Mike Stoltzfus and Lillian Hubbard broke the spell of the address known for housing short-lived restaurants despite the fact that the property is totally gorgeous.

Chef Mike moved to New Orleans from the eastern shore of Maryland a little over two years ago. He was a sous chef at Restaurant August (John Besh's posh place) when he decided to open Coquette down the street from Commander's Palace. Lily runs Coquette's front of the house.

They are part of a crop of young talent settling in post Katrina New Orleans, eager to be a part of the fabulous rebirth that is happening, part of the "new nola STYLE".

It is not difficult to explain what keeps drawing diners back to their restaurant. Coquette is a neighborhood place with intelligent, creative food, an inviting bar and frequent drink specials that draw on both an eclectic cocktail repertoire (ask for the "Bailout" with bacon-infused bourbon) and a concise but captivating wine list. It sounds simple enough, yet it's difficult to think of a local restaurant to compare it to.

Coquette makes good on the casual demeanor suggested by the terms Bistro and Wine Bar. Denim isn't likely to raise anyone's eyebrows, and the cool and friendly and knowledgeable waitstaff can read tables well enough to know when it's safe to break into informal conversation.

The restaurant is undeniably elegant. Housed in a 19th century building restored to its original brick and wood splendor, the restaurant's main dining room fits a single row of tables next to a long bar inside a narrow footprint. The close quarters fosters intimacy, but there's also grandeur in the setting, much of it overhead: soaring ceilings, custom chandeliers and rich dark woodwork. There is an attractive second-story dining room as well (we'd love to have a tango party there!).

Personally I dine there as often as I can. We take out-of-town guests too. Recently Marcy Blum, super eventista with a celeb ladden client roster, was our guest.

She thought the bartenders were the most skilled and clever mixologists she has seen anywhere. And Marcy could not stop raving about the food and the service, no faint praise since she dines regularly at the top restaurants in New York. She also offered to do Mike and Lily's wedding when the times comes, which made Mike blush and Lily smile.

I am starting an irregular regular bloggers luncheon to be held at Coquette. I got the idea from the Houston bloggers!

The first one is going to be on Thursday May 6 in honor of Laura Casey being in town and hoping Laura Ingalls Gunn and Fifi Flowers will be here too.

New Orleans bloggers Jessie from The Gimlet Eye, Mitchell from Optimism and White Paint, Caroline from perch., Julie from The Bayou Contessa, Nathan from Laurel Street, Amanda Talley from The Big Easy Life, Jessica from Black.White.Yellow, Beki from Artsy Crafty Babe, and Bryan and Tom from Hazelnut have all been invited.

If you want to come just let me know, and we'll add a place for you.

Alberto often comes to pick me up from work with Cholo. We usually stop at Coquette and sit outside for a cocktail before walking home. Wednesday is when Coquette runs a wine s special, and Thursday is the night for any specialty cocktail made for you at a bargain price.

2800 Magazine Street
New Orleans, LA 70115-2229
(504) 265-0421


pve design said...

Wonderful idea, to have a regular blog lunch at such a swell spot. I love the name.
c'est jolie!

Jan said...

Nice place Vamp !
I can only imagine what post-Katrina would feel like - brilliant that things are on the up.

The Consummate Hostess said...

Oh fabulous! I was lucky enough to meet my husband in NOLA and always treasure a visit to the city that I adore. Next time that I am in town, I will make sure to stop by Coquette! Great post!

beki said...

Oooh, let me check my calendar - I might be able to make it!

studioJudith said...

Classic NO corner bistro .. .
all so very familiar - and the perfect time of year to still be comfortable sitting outside for that early evening cocktail.
Thanks for the trip down Memory Lane!


Tricia Rose said...

Making me hungry...

Renae said...

it is a fab restaurant, I went last time I was in NOLA. I would just love to have lunch with you girls...Fifi is one of my bloggy pals. I'll have to pass this time though, I am having a very special house guest the next week and I have to get ready!

Karena said...

What a great place to dine and agreat idea Valorie! Have fun!

Art by Karena

Velvet and Linen said...

I have delicious fond memories of our dinner at Coquette. I hope that we can do it again soon!


The Gimlet Eye said...

I love Coquette and cannot be more excited about the bloggers lunch there....great post!
(I, too, have fond memories of the Table One oasis post-K...eating on styrofoam plates and choosing among three menu items never felt so luxurious after fixing homes!)
Thanks for including me in the lunch!

Ms Smart said...

nice spot. easy style. aged comfortable elegance. cheers.

Fifi Flowers said...

Ooooh sadly... I will not be in town... I sooooo wish I was... someday I hope!!! Would love to meet you!!!

Marnie said...

sounds like a delicious spot after work - wish I could drop in on your bloggers lunch - alas miles away in the still-chilly northeast

Kwana said...

How nice. Thanks for the view of your corner bistro.

Laura Ingalls Gunn said...

Oh yes, Coquette! A perfect gem of a spot for a luncheon.

Bryan and Tom, sigh. The Bayou Contessa... every blogger indeed makes the perfect guest list.

I SO wish I could be there. You are quite the gem yourself.
I have not forgotten about our time spent together and will soon be blogging about our wonderful first introduction.

I am sorry that I haven't been commenting as much. I see that your beloved has been a bit under the weather and I am sending sunny thoughts your way.

Be blessed dear one.

VictoriaArt said...

What a beautiful introduction! Such places are a blessing to have near by! What a classy restaurant and the idea of a blogger luncheon is splendid!
It's going to be fabulous, your guest list is proof enough!
What a reason to come to visit...
Please tell us how it goes!

Hope Alberto is doing better! More well wishes for him!

PVE just suggested to me we entertain a similar blogger luncheon idea in our Rivertowns region! It's catching on quickly! ;)


Laura Casey Interiors said...

I am so excited! We are going to have such a great time and what a fabulous spot.

red ticking said...

looks amazing... i would eat there all the time...

Carla said...

Coquette looks like you are in Paris. What a beautiful Bistro. I hope Paris Tango arrived. Carla

Living It At Home said...

Love the name and everything about it. I can picture myself sitting outside! You are lucky to have such a friendly place to hang!

Suzy / Sparker Shop said...

JUST walked by Coquette on our way to tour the Garden District today - we'll have to make our way back to try it out this week!

24 Corners said...

Now *that's* a corner bistro! It's perfect! How lovely that you both get to walk there and that Cholo is a regular as well!

And I'm beyond thrilled that you visited, perked my crazy day right up!!! xo J~

Dee Stephens said...

I'm new to your blog! I'm originally from Baton Rouge but living in Charlotte now.
Never been to this restaurant but will have to try next time I'm in town.
One of my good friends owns and runs should TOTALLY check him out! it's awesome!

Anonymous said...

Oh my, what a spot. I love the ritual of you, Alberto, and Cholo stopping there on the walk home from work.

La Petite Gallery said...

That looks like a spot I'd like to dine at.. The only thing missing in the photo's was you sweetheart.
It looks like it would make a
swell movie backdrop.


Rafaela Costa said...

Adorei conhecer seu blog.
te seguindo pra saber de tudo q rola por aki.


Real Estate Resuscitation said...

My husband and I were lucky enough to be in New Orleans 2 weekends ago and we walked by this lovely spot on Sunday, but it was closed then. We did stroll past Perch too and I snapped a photo in your honor! New Orleans was fantastic even though we didn't get to stay as long as we'd like to. Everyone was very friendly and welcoming there. Thank you for your recommendations you emailed me on where to eat and what to do there. We ended up eating dinner at Herbsaint which was very good despite the fact they have a bit of an awkward dining room and the serving staff stands around sort of hawkish like. Hard to complain when you are eating pork belly though!


Fifi Flowers said...

oooh I soooooo NEED a trip to your world... I want to go here and try a whirl at tango class... le sigh... someday I hope!