after dinner sneeze

a lot of g says, t says

“winning dinner” at cochon

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t says:  I’d like to take the time to introduce our latest cast member: alf.  Hiya alf!  So, lc and alf were in town visiting the other weekday so I was tasked with finding a dinner spot for the four of us.  I had a few requirements:
1)  Not expensive (entrees < $20)
2)  BYO
3)  Red wine compatible food (lc prefers red and I had a hankering for pinot noir)
4)  Easy availability (i.e. last minute reservations on a Wednesday)

And while yes, there are plenty of such places in Philly, how many of them could do:
5)  Guaranteed delicious

And with that, I knew what we had to do …  We had to go to Cochon …

April 2012, Wednesday Dinner, Party of 4.  Ahhh, Cochon.  Comfortable, casual, homey, and oh-so-piggy.  It’s one of adsz’s most under-rated restaurants – if only it was closer to where we lived, we’d be going all the time …

And so, with a bottle of pinot burning a hole in my “cellar” (i.e. the cardboard box underneath our wine fridge), we climbed into a cab and $10 later we were in Queen’s Village, ready for a much-scaled-down pigs-and-pinot feast.  Interestingly, the place wasn’t that empty when we had arrived – a good sign because we’d hate for them to go under due to lack of business.  Please readers – go to Cochon!

Now … down to business … g and I started with the gnocchi appetizer:

gnocchi + peas + crab + bacon + ?some kind of sauce?

Our appetizer was pretty good overall.  The cream sauce with the peas, crab, and bacon was wonderful, but the gnocchi were a little flawed.  I feel like they were trying to go for a super-uber-volatile gnocchi like at Vetri, but alas, the pasta came up crumbly instead of whipped/creamy/cloud-like.  But don’t take this as “bad” gnocchi, as I assure you that had there been an entire plate of it, I would have been a happy camper to have had it for an entree.

lc’s appetizer, for which I do not have a picture of, was the fried oysters.  I need to confess that when she first ordered them, I was hoping that she wouldn’t regret it, because seriously, it’s “fried oysters” – how good could it be?  Answer: DAMN GOOD!  In my opinion (not that I’m a fried oyster connoisseur, as I’ve had it only a handful of times), these were perfect.  The meat was just cooked on the inside and it had a tissue-paper-light crispy breading on the outside.  It was as close as one could get to eating a raw oyster … without it being raw.  Consequently, Cochon has singly-handedly re-opened my eyes to the world of fried oysters (although now that I’ve said that, I’m sure I’ll be let down by the next 5 places I try it at).

My dish was a “special”:

pork shoulder + mustard crust + Brussels sprouts + lentils

The shoulder was beautifully prepared, with a deeply piggy flavor beautifully balanced with the mustard.  The lentils were not quite Bibou-esque in flavor, but respectable in terms of texture.  The Brussels sprouts were impressively charred on the outside, just how I like ’em (I think others should note how to do it).  In the end, I felt that in the game of dinner, my dish was a winner for sure.  So let’s look at the competition:

steak + fries

g went with the steak and fries (with the ubiquitous cochon aioli).  The steak was cooked perfectly and well-seasoned.  There weren’t any real “mis-steps, and it had some nice bonus smoky/grilled flavors.  However, it’s not a very “complex” or “subtle” steak; if I could be sexist for a moment, I’d say this is a “man’s steak” for sure – straightforward, bold, meaty, no frills.  Consequently, it wasn’t Bibou-good, but g was still happy with it.

pork tenderloin + dried cherries + nuts + Swiss chard + Israeli couscous

And now enter lc and alf’s main …  They ordered a “special” pork tenderloin over swiss chard, nuts, dried cherries and some kind of reduction.  The pork is the new most tender pork I’ve ever had (not including pork bellies, which is all fat, so it doesn’t count).  Was it prepared sous vide?  It sure tasted like it – but what do I know?  It had playful sour cherries opposite earthy nuts.  If my dish was like a down-and-dirty devil, there’s was the lively-and-cutesy angel.  Two dramatically different takes on pig, for sure.  I preferred mine, they preferred theirs.  Counting lc and alf as one vote (it wouldn’t be fair to allow them to count as two votes), we looked to g to settle the argument.  g proclaimed alf and lc the “winners”.  No way!  We asked the server for a second opinion – he sided with me.  Obviously, I’m going to refuse to let lc and alf “win”, so I’m going to say that we co-won dinner.

As you can see, Cochon is still doing things beautifully.  If you want meaty meats with pigs and steaks and fat and butter and friedness, then it’s really tough to top.  If you’re a vegetarian or vegan, you might not find a whole lot here (although they technically do have a vegetarian option upon request).  Similarly, those wanting a light-and-fit meal might be disappointed as well.  But everyone else should be more-than-happy with Cochon’s offerings.  And, between Cochon’s BYO-ness and Savored’s 30% off, going there is a pretty sweet deal, indeed.  I hope they continue to get the love that they deserve.

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Written by afterdinnersneeze

23 April 2012 at 6:53pm

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