Le Coq – London N1
August 29, 2013 § Leave a comment
This little Islington bistro is giving roast dinner new life: rotisserie chicken with refreshingly unusual trimmings.
It isn’t often I have a roast for my dinner, and on those rare occasions when I do, chicken certainly isn’t my preferred meat. However, Le Coq serves up such a fabulous feast of rotisserie chicken that I couldn’t help but be charmed. This is roast dinner with a difference. And I liked it.
Having only just opened on the previous evening, Le Coq was still within its soft opening when I visited with friends. A slightly slow service was only to be expected and completely justified by a 50% discount on all food, but in any case our catch up was long overdue so we were happy to sit and soak up the buzz of this already busy little bistro, watching the chefs at work as they skillfully prepared dishes from their tiny counter kitchen.
The menu, lit up in lights perched high up on the wall, announces the option of two starters, one main, a couple of sides and two desserts. Needless to say, choices are quite limited but with two courses for £16 and three for £20 (and that’s before we took off the 50% discount) you can hardly complain!
My starter of ‘Vegetable Crudites with Lovage Mayonnaise’ was delightfully simple and refreshingly fresh. The garden of vegetables, some raw, others par-boiled, are in truth simply prepared and simply arranged, but I loved the light and healthy appetiser – it’s bizzarrely quite rare to have something so quaint for dinner (when eating out) and I savoured every bite. The ‘Squid with Sea Purslane‘ was equally light and tasty, an ever so slight heat of chilli adding a depth of flavour to the little appetiser. Both dishes were small and offered a delicate start to the evening. As soon as out mains arrived, I was grateful for it.
An enormous platter of ‘Sutton Hoo Rotisserie Chicken‘ was placed before us, closely followed by a bowl piled high with ‘Grilled Bitter Leaf Bread Salad‘, three cups of ‘Rotisserie Potatoes‘ and ramekins of ‘Chicken Drippings‘ and ‘Tarragon Mayonnaise‘. A feast for the eyes and a feast for our bellies. We got thoroughly stuck in, each helping ourselves to generous slices of breast, a meaty leg and cuts of wing to accompany our fresh, bitter salad and delectably salty, crisp potatoes. Dabs of the tarragon mayonnaise were my preference over the chicken dripping gravy, which, unusually for roast chicken, was entirely unneceesary, the bird itself being flavoursome and moist enough on its own. The salad was an unusual combination of grilled bitter leaves and toasted chunks of bread, all tossed together with an unidentifiable dressing that contrasted beautifully with the softer and more delicate meat and roast tatties. We managed to do the meal justice, leaving only one lonely looking drumstick at the end.
Though we all had achingly full tums, I felt we couldn’t pass on the desserts, so I ordered one of each – a ‘Gooseberry Tart‘ and ‘Summer Pudding Ice Cream‘ – for us to share. Despite Charlotte and Matthew both claiming to be too full to suffer another bite, no sooner had the dishes arrived than the tart was all but demolished; the two of them greedily scoffing all but the crust and a spoonful or two of goosebury filling. But who could blame them? The tart was scrumptiously good; the pastry crisp and crumbly, the filling sweet, but tempered by the bitter gooseberries, which was, as Matthew went to some length to point out, akin to a classic lemon tart, but without the lemon. I personally preferred the ice-cream; the rich and powerful berry flavours and crunchy biscuit topping bringing my meal to a perfect end.
Le Coq is cheap and casual, fresh and fun and a superb alternative to both homemade roast on Sundays & dinner any day of the week. Although we only had the pleasure of sampling their rotisserie chicken, other options will be sporadically available – I hear rumours of rotisserie-ed pork belly and octopus! Thats another reason to be back. Not that I needed one.
Acknowledgements: Thanks to Matthew and Charlotte for taking a chance on my weird choice of restaurant – I think it worked out pretty well?!?!