Don’t be wary of this day just for the fancy-pants name! It may be National Coquilles St. Jacques Day, but the term is just a fancy, French way to describe a particular way to cook scallops. There isn’t an official recipe for Coquilles St. Jacques, but all variations include serving a breaded, broiled scallop in a creamy wine sauce and presented classically on its own shell. In France, the coquille is a certain species of scallop, and for the dish to keep this name, it is the coquille and only the coquille that can be used. But for all other regions that aren’t native to the coquille–like New York City, for one–any old scallop variety will do.
Order yourself this classic French dish at a classic French restaurant in the city. Chez Napoleon in Hell’s Kitchen is a tiny little restaurant in the far end of the Theater District, that feels like it’s from an entirely different era and location. You walk in and you’re no longer in twenty-first century New York, but in a tiny bistro on the outskirts of Paris, where you can get both the freshest and most expertly prepared meals you’ve ever tasted. Chez Napoleon specializes in those classic French dishes that everyone tries to twist and “make their own,” but instead of futzing with tradition they embrace it, especially in their preparation of Coquilles St. Jacques. The scallops are broiled but still soft, and the creamy white wine sauce complements them perfectly. Ask if you can keep the empty scallop shell after you’ve eaten on it–I’ve got no idea if they keep and reuse them afterwards for more delicious scallops, but it never hurts to ask!
365 W 50th St (between 8th Ave & 9th Ave)
Some reviews from Yelp.com:
“And then the food… it’s great here! My dining partner and I had the Coquille St. Jacques as well as the Vichyssoise soup, both were very tasty (and creamy! Bring lactase along if you need it, or else you’ll be in trouble!). The vichyssoise had a great texture from the garnish, and the flavoring was very nice and refreshing after a warm day. The scallops were also a nice bit as well.”–Bruce L.
“We stopped in here for dinner before going to see Avenue Q – thank goodness for Yelp! What a fantastic meal – the coquilles st jacques was DIVINE, as was the escargot. For entrees we had beef bourginon and bouillabaisse – Julia had the onion soup gratin. We will be back for dessert as we ran out of time and were too stuffed to continue on the night that we dined.”–James C.
Make sure you check out the updated NYC Food Holidays Map to find this most recent holiday!