Dining Out: Cocotte Bistro’s French-inspired fare included winners and inconsistencies

At Cocotte Bistro in the Metcalfe Hotel, cassoulet vert is a vegan dish that swaps in mushrooms for the usual meats in the classic French bean stew.
At Cocotte Bistro in the Metcalfe hotel, cassoulet vert is a vegan meal that swaps in mushrooms for the normal meats in the traditional French bean stew. Photo by Peter Hum/ Postmedia

Cocotte Bistro
123 Metcalfe St., inside the Metcalfe hotel, 613-231-6555, cocottebistro.com
Open: daily for breakfast, lunch and supper, see site for information
Prices: appetisers $10 to $24, mains $22 to $56
Access: no actions to front door or restrooms

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I have half a mind to connect to France’s ambassador to Canada to see what he would state about Cocotte Bistro’s vegan cassoulet.

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Normally, that legendary rustic stew from southeastern France is a hearty meat-fest brimming with pork sausage, duck confit and in some cases goose fat, all adding to a slow-simmering change of white beans from peasant grub to fare suitable for a gluttonous king. There’s even an organization called L’Académie Universelle du Cassoulet, committed to promoting its name and promoting its genuine preparation.

At Cocotte, the cassoulet– or need to that be “cassoulet”– does consist of white beans. It does away with all the goodies for predators and swaps in roasted King mushrooms, a kale and walnut pistou, pearl onions, and confit cherry tomatoes and a crowning peashoot salad.

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At Cocotte Bistro in the Metcalfe Hotel, cassoulet vert is a vegan dish that swaps in mushrooms for the usual meats in the classic French bean stew.
At Cocotte Bistro in the Metcalfe hotel, cassoulet vert is a vegan meal that swaps in mushrooms for the normal meats in the timeless French bean stew. Photo by Peter Hum/ Postmedia

Part of me states this meal is a slap in the face of French cooking, or a minimum of veganism run amok. Another part of me states chef Stephen La Salle’s meal tasted respectable, as meals with appropriately roasted King mushrooms and great accompaniments normally do, and the cassoulet authorities should stand down.

Cassoulet debate aside, I have actually lots of divided viewpoints about what we consumed throughout our 2 sees to Cocotte, which opened in late October inside the Metcalfe hotel, a freshly refurbished shop hotel throughout from the Ottawa Public Library’s primary branch.

Previously, La Salle opened the Albion Rooms in the Novotel Ottawa hotel and banquet delight in the Andaz Ottawa ByWard Market, 2 hotel dining establishments where I consumed well and which left me with clearer, less ambivalent reactions. My ideas might be muddied due to the fact that La Salle’s kitchen area picks to make some meals that are basically standard, however likewise others that riff artistically on their French motivations for a menu that might perhaps be too big in it try to use or riff on numerous valued French meals.

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Ultimately, I had a couple of products that were magnifique however many more that were meh-nifique.

Let’s start with some winners. The pumpkin and butternut squash soup ($10), made with coconut cream in another nod to veganism, was soothing and autumnal. Salmon tartare ($19) that included fish treated with lavender and herbes de provence, was flavourful and pleasurable. We were wowed by a main dish of braised veal cheeks ($36), with its tender meat being in an attractive sauce that nodded to blanquette de veau, a cherished French stew. The “Ottawa-Brest” dessert ($14), effectively mashed up and the traditional Paris-Brest dessert with– await it– fried dough à la Beavertail, and we could not get enough this maple-y, sugar-y extravagance.

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Pumpkin soup at Cocotte Bistro in the Metcalfe hotel
Pumpkin soup at Cocotte Bistro in the Metcalfe hotel Photo by Peter Hum/ Postmedia
Salmon tartare at Cocotte Bistro in the Metcalfe Hotel,
Salmon tartare at Cocotte Bistro in the Metcalfe hotel, Photo by Peter Hum/ jpg
Braised veal cheeks at Cocotte Bistro in the Metcalfe hotel
Braised veal cheeks at Cocotte Bistro in the Metcalfe hotel Photo by Peter Hum/ Postmedia
Ottawa-Brest dessert at Cocotte Bistro in the Metcalfe hotel
Ottawa-Brest dessert at Cocotte Bistro in the Metcalfe hotel Photo by Peter Hum/ Postmedia

But the other meals that we attempted did not strike comparable heights and triggered gripes of differing sizes.

I quibble with the fish soup ($18), the less expensive spinoff of Cocotte’s $58 bouillabaisse for 2, since while it was delicious, its pickerel quenelles were a little heavy and the star of the meal was its grilled bread slathered in rouille. Fried veal sweetbreads ($20) were well carried out, however we longed for more than 3 them in the order. Fogo Island Turbot crudo ($26) was a vibrant and toothsome app etiser, however it had more connections to Peruvian food that bistro fare.

Fish soup at Cocotte Bistro in the Metcalfe hotel
Fish soup at Cocotte Bistro in the Metcalfe hotel Photo by Peter Hum/ Postmedia
Sweetbreads at Cocotte Bistro in the Metcalfe hotel
Sweetbreads at Cocotte Bistro in the Metcalfe hotel Photo by Peter Hum/ Postmedia
Fogo Island turbot cru at Cocotte Bistro in the Metcalfe hotel
Fogo Island turbot cru at Cocotte Bistro in the Metcalfe hotel Photo by Peter Hum/ Postmedia

I grouse that the Arctic char meunière ($34) was inelegantly plated which its room-temperature beet and pearl couscous salad did not have the appeal of a hot accompaniment. The green bean Caesar ($19), while enjoyable, required more of a Caesar-y punch. The Niçoise salad ($28) included a lot of seared tuna and a thick anchovy-enhanced vinaigrette that was more like a dip, however the remainder of the meal felt over-simplified and small.

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Arctic char Meuniere at Cocotte Bistro in the Metcalfe hotel
Arctic char Meuniere at Cocotte Bistro in the Metcalfe hotel Photo by Peter Hum/ Postmedia
Green beans Caesar salad at Cocotte Bistro in the Metcalfe Hotel.
Green beans Caesar salad at Cocotte Bistro in the Metcalfe hotel. Photo by Peter Hum/ Postmedia
Salade Nicoise at Cocotte Bistro in the Metcalfe hotel
Salade Nicoise at Cocotte Bistro in the Metcalfe hotel Photo by Peter Hum/ Postmedia

I stomp my foot at the disparity of the steak frites ($34), that ultimate French restaurant favourite, which we purchased two times wishing for achievement. At our supper, its french fries were great, while the meat was a mushy frustration. At lunch later on recently, the bavette steak was the very best thing that arrived on our table, however the french fries were uninviting. In both circumstances, the sauce, which was absolutely nothing unique, may have been much better on the side or ended the plate.

Steak frites at lunch at Cocotte Bistro in the Metcalfe Hotel.
Steak frites at lunch at Cocotte Bistro in the Metcalfe hotel. Photo by Peter Hum/ jpg

I pointed out above that the menu may be too big. For my functions, that held true due to the fact that I didn’t navigate to buying Cocotte’s seafood charcuterie, bouillabaisse, beef tartare, duck confit, beef bourguignon, hamburger or onion soup. They might well be wonderful, however my spending plan, while generous, might not truly stroll through the stretch of the menu.

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Food aside, Cocotte has other points in its favour. A round of mixed drinks at supper was sturdily gratifying and I ‘d purchase the smokey, maple-y Old Fashioned ($17) once again. Service was trained and pleasant, and the environments are good and uncluttered.

So, a month after Cocotte’s opening, it strikes me that its kitchen area still has work to do to make its French motivations happy. I’ll hold back on welcoming the French ambassador there for some cassoulet, and limitation myself to making a diplomatic evaluation that this dining establishment is appealing, however at this moment, unequal.

phum@postmedia.com

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