Man, between this and Coquilles St. Jacques, the French sure do have a lot of suggestive food names 😉 Coq au Vin is exactly as translated, a rustic French dish consisting of cooking a rooster in wine. The concept of slow-braising a chicken in wine, vegetables, and spices dates back to ancient Gallic times in France, but an official recipe for coq au vin (which really calls for chicken, not necessarily a rooster) didn’t exist until the 20th century. Usually, the chicken is marinated in Burgundy wine (though the wine may vary based on what part of France you get the dish), then seared in pork lardon, and slow-cooked until it is incredibly tender. It’s a deceptively easy dish, as there are really only three steps to cooking the bird (along with thickening the sauce for presentation and adding vegetables to the stew), but when you serve it to your guests, it looks as if you got a crash course at the Culinary Institute in order to make them dinner. It’s a hearty, wholesome peasant dish that comes at the perfect time of year, right before it gets too hot to enjoy a bird that’s been stewing all day.
Opened in the fall of last year, the relatively new French bistro Buvette makes a mean coq au vin, as well as a ton of other classic French dishes that evoke the simple and earthy dishes of the French countryside. A tiny little restaurant in the West Village even keeps their theme of a small, cozy French bistro in the decor and the dishes themselves, with each dish being a small sample of the super-big plates of French peasant cuisine. The coq au vin here is also served small, but you get a ton of flavor packed into the chicken leg you’re served, marinated for what seems like forever in the rich Burgundy wine turned into a sauce. Even the chicken legs themselves are small, which makes me giggle–these are not the giant chicken legs you get at a Texas barbecue. This place is perfect if you’re looking to celebrate the national food holiday with some coq au vin but aren’t interested in eating an entire chicken, or sitting near the stewing pot all day. One small tasting plate at Buvette, a glass of Burgundy to go with your vin, and then you can be out again real quick and onto another bistro–or stay, and order a few more plates to make your night!
42 Grove St (between Bedford St & Bleecker St)
“A barrage of little things with big flavor followed: a glass jar of salty, creamy chicken-liver mousse; a crock of brandade de morue, also salty, and just a tad fishy; poireaux en vinaigrette, leeks laced with mustard; savory, meaty lentils with kale. After a while, you get used to the diminutive proportions and start to look forward to having just a bite or two of everything—such as the exemplary “viandes,” which might include creamy rabbit potpie; coq au vin, deeply infused with wine, soft and tender; and perhaps the smallest cassoulet in the world.”–The New Yorker
“In this dollhouse setting, Williams made a compelling case for reviving old-fashioned French country cooking. Her immaculate renditions of coq au vin, goose-fat rillettes or intense, lacquered wedges of tarte Tatin arrived on tiny plates, in petite jars or in miniature casseroles, her time-warp flavors recalling an era when there were still classic bistros on every corner.”–Time Out New York
“The sauce of the coq au vin ($15) is also exactly as it should be, rich and plummy with wine, dotted with soft browned globes of mushrooms and stewed chicken legs that are smaller and leaner than most you’ll find in the U.S. It’s deeply satisfying, elegant yet homey.”–Gastrochic
Some reviews from Yelp.com:
“My family and I order to rabbit confit, pesto di noci, chicken liver mousse, coq au vin, duck, mussels, and a rabbit special. Everything was absolutely delicious. The servings are quite small, which in my opinion is good because it allows you to try more. I definitely recommend this restaurant if you want to try some excellent french food.”–Kerry M.
“My first visit I went around 3pm on a Friday and it was almost empty. The bartender/waiter was incredibly helpful in guiding me around the food and drink menus. I had the coq au vin, lentil side, and the mousse. Everything was incredible! I have lived in France before and this is definitely the best mousse I have ever had– its so rich! The atmosphere and food are perfect when you want a place to have a quiet lunch/mid-afternoon bite.”–Nicole C.
Make sure you check out the updated NYC Food Holidays Map to find this most recent holiday!