FINE FRENCH FARE…TRÉS BIEN!
It’s no secret that we’re big fans of Coco Laurent. The French eatery and bar on the southwest corner of Seventh and Grand looks charming, serves stellar drinks courtesy of cocktail director Krishna Vutla, and has an unparalleled wine program run by touted Sommelier Henri Marquis. And with tons of competition in the area (yes, they are across the street from Bottega Louie and right next door to Sugarfish), Executive Chef Wilks Medley’s French and Basque-inspired cuisine should never get lost in the shuffle.
Our first ever sojourn to Coco Laurent was for a one-of-a-kind wine tasting experience with Henri Marquis, but part of that magical night was the fine French fare that our lovely wines were paired with. So Chef’s endearing eats definitely made a wonderful first impression. Since then, whether it was for a night of cocktails or a visit to Aperitivo Hours (home to $6 wines, $5 cocktails, $4 beers and cheap eats from 4-7pm), the food at Coco Laurent has always been a part of why we love the place so much. So imagine how excited I was when I finally went for a proper sit-down dinner.
During our most recent visit, we started with the light and fresh Pan Roasted Butterfish, served in a braised tomato stew with Kalamata olives, capers and crispy parsnip, paired with a lovely La Petite Perriere Sauvignon Blanc. This is a great starter item to share or one just to peak your palette.
One of my favorite dishes, which I’ve had at every visit, is the outrageously delicious sautéed Garlic Shrimp. I still can’t believe they don’t serve bread with this dish but they will gladly bring you a side upon request as it is served in the most fantastic garlic sauce. Previously we had it paired with a 2012 Urban Riesling where the sweet wine with the tangy garlic was pure genius. This particular night, the sauce was a tad garlic heavy but that’s not a bad thing, especially when you have the wine and French bread to soak up every last delicious drop.
After a round of the our favorite Insane Bolt cocktail, mixed with Smith & Cross Rum, bitters, Maraschino Liqueur and orgeat (a sweet syrup made from almonds, sugar and rose water or orange flower water), we moved on to a couple of remarkable light and tasty salads. The Prosciutto & Melon, served with Heirloom melon, slice La Quercia prosciutto, Burrata, mache, sea salt, extra virgin olive oil, and the rich and savory Duck Confit Salad, prepared with white frisée, apples, walnuts, gorgonzola, Cider-Chervil vinaigrette, were fantastic starter items. These were utter heaven with a 2010 Villa San-Juliette Sauvignon Blanc from Paso Robles.
For entrées, I couldn’t resist ordering the Duck a l'Orange with Muscovy duck breast, mustard greens, confit leg, citrus duck demi-glace (a rich brown sauce in French cuisine) and preserved orange marmalade. How can you not at a French restaurant? I went rouge with this order and decided to pair it myself with the Veev La France from the signature cocktail menu. The mix of Veev, Reyka Vodka, Blood Orange, Aperol, ginger, and sparkling wine (think Blood Orange mimosa) was spot on with the delicious duck. Pair these together and you’ll be one happy camper.
We also had the 8oz Angus beef Hanger Steak with Frites, along with a hearty side of Brussels Sprouts with pork belly, chili and parmesan. The steak was perfectly paired with a 2009 Chateau Mont-Redon Chateauneuf-du-Pape from France’s Rhone Valley.
After a glass of my new found favorite Plantation Rum, this time I went with the Trinidad (my own digestif--I’m a fan of liquid dessert what can I say?), a decadent dessert was almost out of the question but we soldiered on (thank goodness) and relished the fantastic Tarte de Chocolat.
Kudos to Chef and the Coco Laurent bar program for their fine panache in creating great experiences. While I personally love sitting at the bar to watch all the action, I really enjoyed sitting outdoors on the street taking in all the merry downtown LA mayhem. It’s like our very own mini Manhattan—there’s so much going on these days down there. Good food, great drinks, fine company, it’s the joie de vivre that makes it all worthwhile.
Coco Laurent is located at 707 S Grand Ave. Hours: Monday through Thursday from 11:30 am to 10 pm; Friday from 11:30 am to 11 pm; Saturday from 10 am to 11 pm; and Sunday from 10 am to 10 pm. Call (213) 623-0008.
By: Jose Martinez.