French Chef and owner of Le Coq Rico New York, Antoine Westermann, is not a novice in his field. Until 2007, he was a three Michelin star chef at his restaurant “Le Buerehiesel,” in Strasbourg, France, before he handed it over to his son. He opened his restaurant when he was 23 years old and earned his third Michelin star when he was 48, in 1994. At that time he was part of the French elite chefs, with Bernard Loiseau, Guy Savoy, and Alain Ducasse.
In 2007, he decided to move to Paris, where he opened two restaurants – Mon Vieil Ami and Le Coq Rico – and took over the famous “Le Drouant” in the Opera Garnier district, where the French literature jury deliberates the Goncourt prize since 1914.
Chef Antoine Westermann likes new challenges. His desire for renewal brought him to NYC, where he opened Le Coq Rico in March 2016 in the Flatiron District.
At Le Coq Rico, the bistro of beautiful birds, the bird is king! The restaurant, as you may have imagined, is specialized in poultry dishes: from the “eggz” to the birds through the foie gras.
I usually never, ever order chicken in a restaurant. Most of the time, it doesn’t look or taste any better than the chicken I prepare at home. But Antoine’s birds are not just any kind of bird: you have the Brune Landaise, the Catskill Guinea Fowl, and the Rohan farm duck – just to name a few from the list of special breeds you can find on the menu. The number of days shown next to the breed is the number of days the birds run freely before… well, you know!
The décor of the restaurant is very elegant: whitewashed brick walls and white feathers contrast with the dark furniture. The white oak floor, dark counter bar, and an alley of wine bottles lead you to the dining area. A very contemporary painting – bright blue and white – hung on the white wall – stands out as the only colored touch.
My personal experience was at brunch. The Viennoiserie basket was a delight with a selection of croissant, brioche, currant scone, and pain au chocolat served with butter and strawberry jam. The croissant was heavenly good!
From the Eggz section of the menu, I tried the “slow cooked egg”; the egg was very smooth and the mousse very delicate and refined.
The fresh cow cheese omelet and the seasonal mushroom omelet are proof that Chef Westermann has total mastery of making omelets. And believe me, not all omelets are successful. There are some critical rules to follow to produce a thin, soft, creamy, and tasty one.
In the  film “The Hundred-foot Journey,” the ultimate test for a cook to become a part of the brigade at the one Michelin star restaurant is to prepare an omelet. I love the scene where Manish Patel, aka Hassan Kadam, tells Madame Mallory, aka Helen Mirren, owner of the restaurant, “I would like to make you an omelet”. It is followed by a sensual and very appetizing scene on how to prepare a delicious omelet.
You can’t make it to Le Coq Rico without trying at least one of the poultry items listed on the menu. We opted for the Brune Landaise – 110 days, served with seasonal salad. The meat was very tender and tasty and the skin very crispy. The chicken breast was as tender as the dark meat.
I typically hate the breast, because it’s usually dry and tasteless. But not at Le Coq Rico, where Chef Westermann masters not only the omelets, but also every single part of the bird.
Le Coq Rico
30 E 20th St, New York, NY 10003