after dinner sneeze

a lot of g says, t says

Posts Tagged ‘Cochon

With a Heavy Heart …

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t says:  Every now and then you hear about something devastating and have a severe negative reaction: sadness, anger, regret.  These emotions are often appropriate, following things like national/international tragedies, losses of family, etc.  But every now and then, they sneak up and ninja you at times you didn’t expect.  For example – it’s like when you trade in your first car – I mean who cares – it’s just a car!  It didn’t matter yesterday, when you used your foot to kick your door closed because your hands were full.  And you were so excited today, when you bought a new car!  But I’ll never forget the few seconds of remorse that flashed into my mind as we left the dealer, never to see our trusty ‘ol red-orange-burgundy-colored S40 behind ever again [even though we were driving away in a newer, better car!].  Sometimes I still look for her …

Well, today is one of those days:

Pig BYOB extraordinaire, Cochon, has closed.

For those that don’t know, Cochon was the classic “Philly BYO” in the truest sense.  It was small.  It was homely.  Chef cooked spendidly, but stayed out of the spotlight.  Prices were incredibly reasonable, often in the low-20’s.  Portions were incredible.  You always felt like you were “getting away with something” when you ate there – like how could it be that you had such a great meal without spending $50 per head?!

That said, I recognize that g and I haven’t been to Cochon in years – 2013 according to our blog.  Of course, we still recommended it to everyone, but we just hadn’t made it there ourselves.  I guess we, like the rest of Philly, forgot about it.  Damn.  Had we lost our way?  Maybe we got caught up in things like “craft cocktails”, “beer gardens”, and “tasting menus”.  We sought out the hot new restaurants with narrow niches, like Pho and “plant-based” cuisine.  “Interesting wine lists” made us tolerate the non-BYO-tariff.  “Celebrity chefs” came from New York and/or television cooking shows.  Meanwhile, the Solomonov, Vetri, and 13th Street empires continue to grow, proving that success-begets-success.  The Philly dining scene has certainly lost its Scrappy-Doo attitude, nowadays far closer in resemblance to Fred[dy Prinze Junior].

So let’s to take a moment to reflect on the Cochon:
It all started in 2009 for us.  (Cochon apparently opened in 2007, though).
There were pork shoulders and tenderloins and everything inbetween (want “the fish?” or “the duck?” – it probably had pork in it).
But of course, the memories that will get me just a little choked up will be those of the BRUNCH:
The Elvis French Toast and Those One-Inch-Thick Pancakes (sometimes with chocolate!)

So yes, we at adsz will mourne the loss of Cochon.  While I am sad they didn’t have a celebratory “Cochon is closing week!” where undoubtedly the adsz would have dropped everything to attend one last hurrah – perhaps it is better this way, leaving us with the fond memories of dining with mimosas/wine in hand, raising a glass to how lucky we were be together, eating [there].

Written by afterdinnersneeze

4 August 2015 at 2:10pm

Posted in Happenings

Tagged with , , ,

long live pig at cochon

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t says:  For the past couple weeks, we’ve had some fabulous meals, hitting up Little Fish and Bibou on consecutive weekends.  We kept the trend going by visiting Cochon.  We visited Cochon for Mother’s day brunch and it was fabulous (as usual … so no pictures taken) – but in that instant, we knew we had to come back for dinner, soon!  So we did!  And we brought along kp and two other close friends (a and v were still MIA …) to take on the piggerific dining experience that is Cochon.

May 2013, Saturday Dinner, Party of 5.  This one won’t be a full review of every dish, as you already got the punchline from the title: YES, Cochon makes delicious food.  YES, you should go.  NO, leave your vegetarian friends at home.  Well, maybe that’s not fair – I keep on wanting to try their unlisted vegetarian item, but I keep getting sidetracked by things like this:

duck heart

duck heart appetizer: I’m a sucker for a duck heart.  Is it the future cardiologist in me?  I have no idea.  But there’s something that’s so simple about a duck heart that’s wonderful.  Tablemates did try it and we agreed: it had the texture of filet mignon, a brilliant smokey flavor (a lot of the grilled items at Cochon have an intense smoky flavor to them), and a surprisingly mild duck flavor.  The accompanying sauce added a hint of sweet and that herbed slaw reset the palate nicely.  Quite a delicious appetizer!

prok shoulder

out-of-focus shredded suckling pig: if you go to Cochon and they offer you the suckling pig as a special … you get the suckling pig.  period.  super-tender shreds of pig, accompanied by charred brussel sprouts, lentils, and a bacon broth – instant game over.  it’s a dish that could do no wrong.  now on one hand, it was so rich that after my appetizer I couldn’t finish it all at dinner …

leftovers

… but on the other, I took home the leftovers and g whipped up an omelette the next morning that was absolutely to-die-for.  I show you the picture so you can see in the upper left corner the congealed fat gold that was so critical in the omelette’s success.

Now, we do have to put a disclaimer up here.  Cochon is indeed absolutely brilliant.  But in a monkey-knife-fight with Little Fish and Bibou, the other two are going to win.  Cochon is all about richness and smoke and decadence.  And there’s absolutely nothing wrong with that …  But Bibou’s steak is always going to have that extra layer of refinement, and their pig’s foot and lentils will always have the extra depth.  Of course … Cochon is easier to get in to and a tad cheaper that the other two, so pick you poison wisely!

Written by afterdinnersneeze

25 May 2013 at 10:37pm

pancake-off: cochon vs. honey’s

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t says:  There are two kinds of brunch spots in Philly … the kind that everyone knows about and waits for religiously every Sat/Sun morning … and the kind that, for some inexplicable reason, go unnoticed.  (Actually, there’s a third kind, too: the expensive kind like at the Four Seasons or Lacroix … but who can afford that regularly?)  For this post, I’ve put adsz fave Cochon vs. everyone-and-their-mother’s-fave Honey’s for Battle Pancake …

Challenger: Cochon's Banana and Chocolate-smothered Pancakes - just as fluffy as it used to be, but now served on a plate so you can behold it's massive height!

Challenger: Cochon’s Banana and Chocolate-smothered Pancakes – just as fluffy as it used to be, but now served on a plate so you can behold it’s massive height!  It features this banana-nut-laden bread (that’s different than before when the banana and walnut were just on top of the pancake) – and I know that it looks burnt (I was about to complain when I first saw it), but when I tried it, it actually added this really addictive toasty flavor and a super-light crunch to the outside – it’s more like a burnt sugar than a burnt bread – very weird.  I’ll dock them the points for the appearance as it looks a bit dark, but I’ll leave the points alone for taste, as the pancakes were truly delicious – I can almost finish the entire plate!

"Champion" (by wait time): custom concoction of banana-chocolate-PB pancakes at Honey's.  Ultimately not as fluffy and loses points for undercookedness in the center of one of the pancakes - likely due to poor distribution of stuffings causing concentration in the center, thus making it more difficult to cook ... sorry guys - i can't take the blame if you're a little sloppy

“Champion” (by wait time): custom concoction of banana-chocolate-PB pancakes at Honey’s. Ultimately not as fluffy and loses points for undercookedness in the center of one of the pancakes – likely due to poor distribution of stuffings causing concentration in the center, thus making it more difficult to cook … sorry guys – i can’t take the blame if you’re a little sloppy.  I ate around the undone area – it was fine, but at +1.50 per topping, the bill racks up so it’s as expensive as Cochon’s.

Winner: definitely Cochon.  And that’s not to say that Honey’s was bad – aside from the uncooked part, it was quite delicious.  But I think the problem is that it’s not remarkable; I could make the same exact pancake at home … actually … I could do it better.  However, Cochon’s fluffy pillow of love is something that I know that I can’t make at home no matter how hard I try (if someone gave me a recipe, I could give it a whirl).  Consequently, I have to give Cochon the nod for better pancakes.  Because of this, I just don’t foresee us waiting in line for Honey’s on the weekends, ever.  Plus, Cochon has other little “perks” of going … like this:

behemoth

“Widowmaker” … no – that’s not what it’s called on the menu … but it should be!  This guy probably has ~2500 calories, 2473 of which are from fat … it’s totally crazy (and crazy-delicious!  it’s sr’s favorite!  and i think that v even tackled it once!)

Written by afterdinnersneeze

7 April 2013 at 9:43am

Talula’s Garden crushes brunch

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t says:  We had heard that Talula’s Garden was now offering brunch – naturally, we just had to go.  Oddly enough, it actually took us quite a long time to get there – maybe a bit more than a month?  (That’s odd for Olexy-fans like us.)  Whatever the reason for the delay, we finally went this past weekend – and we were on a mission!  You see, this upcoming weekend, for Mother’s Day 2012, we’re going to do something absolutely stupid – we’re going to have brunch with our parents … in Philadelphia … at a restaurant …  It’s. going. to. be. insane.  It’s Mother’s Day, it’s graduation weekend, and Dad Vails are in town.  Insane, but I guess we’re up for a challenge.  In preparation for the insanity, g and I reasoned that we at least had to do some reconnaissance at the brunch candidates – namely the longtime adsz favorite Cochon and new-kid-on-the-block Talula’s Garden.  So we donned our service uniforms, packed our hi-tech image acquisition apparatus, and force-marched it to Washington Square … (btw – we went to Cochon recently – they’re still ridiculously tasty).

May 2012, Sunday Brunch, Party of 2.  After sitting down, g and I dove into the brunch menu – we were quite hungry from the morning stroll.  And it hit us: the menu oozed pure awesomeness.  My mind was boggled – there were too many dishes to try: blintzes, pancakes, butcher’s breakfast, pastries, cheese, donuts …  I’d say 50-67% of the menu was totally t-worthy.  This conundrum was great news, as all of the preliminary reports featured so few dishes that I feared a lack of selection (which would have stunk for Mother’s Day if there was nothing that mom liked …).

After much consideration, g and I forced ourselves to limit our choices to 3 selections – three that we were pretty sure most people in our party next weekend would choose (Party of 12 baby!).  Here they are:

breakfast pastry trio + lemon curd + butter + berries

Hidden in the menu was the breakfast pastry trio – as it’s not called that at all.  Nevertheless, as soon as we spotted a single item, we knew we had to start with the breakfast pastries.  That item: lemon ginger scone.  While I’ve mentioned them in passing in Talula’s Table posts (although I’m currently failing to find them right now), I think that this blog has failed to completely capture g’s (and my) love for Talula’s Table’s scones, especially the lemon ginger ones.  And if TG’s scones are even 23% as good as TT’s, we would be happy.  How did it stack up?  We’ve decided that it was almost as good as anticipated.  It was a bit cakier/cakeier/more-cake-like than TT’s, which makes for a lighter pastry – but the flavor was spot-on.  There’s pluses and minuses to this, though.  On one hand, there’s a certain richness that TG’s scone lacks, but on the other, you don’t feel completely full after eating just one scone, so it’s definitely not too much of a letdown because we had more food to eat!  And while the muffin and coffee cake (especially with the lemon curd) were also very good (giving Parc’s pastry basket a run for its money), you just can’t beat a lemon-ginger scone, even one operating at 87% of max-deliciosity (you have to try them when they come straight out of the oven at 7am at Talula’s Table in Kennet Square … only then will you understand our obsession).

g’s main = “crab benedict” over fresh English muffin + potatoes

g ordered an egg-based savory breakfast dish … surprised?  Not I.  This one was featured egg, crab, and some kind of ?tomato-based? Hollondaise/Bearnaise-ish sauce and accompanied by those wonderfully-gold brown potatoes … and it totally rocked g’s socks.  It was funny, because although there weren’t massive chunks of crab, that sauce tasted so much like crab it was kind of like what would happen if capo giro made crab-flavored gelato.  Ok, maybe that’s not the best picture to paint, but you get the idea – it had a very vivid crab flavor!  The eggs were perfectly poached with good yolk runniness.  And then there was that English muffin … that English muffin was crazy!  We got word from one of our fave TG staff that these were made in house and required some time to perfect before they released this dish – well let me say it was perfect!  (I’m contemplating swearing off Thomas’s.)

t’s main = wheat pancakes + bruleed bananas + pecans

What you see before you is my main.  The wheat pancakes pictured above were oh-so-fluffy – coming within a hair of the reigning pancake champ at Cochon in terms of thickness,  but still pretty impressive!  The bananas (with accompanying sauce like a bananas foster) and pecans were fantastic (although perhaps obvious) accompaniments, and reminded me a little of the bananas that Cochon used to put on their Elvis French toast (back when they used to offer the Elvis French toast).  Actually, I loved the Elvis-themed toppings so much back then that I frequently asked them to put them on top of their super-wicked pancakes.  But alas, they Elvis no more.  Ok – back to TG’s pancakes: while “wheat” is normally not a desirable flavor for me (just ask g about my thoughts on wheat bread), it actually added a little bit of a savory pinch in the background of all the sweet on the plate – I liked it!  I think overall, the dish needed some salt – maybe a piece of bacon or something, which I guess I should have ordered, myself.  Be that as it may, in light of Cochon’s lack of gussied-up pancakes (they only do French toast dressed with sausage gravy on their menu right now – pancakes are a “side dish”, and while they’re still fan-frickin-tastic, they lack to bananas and bacon ice cream of old …), it seems like there’s a new pancake champion in town … Talula’s Garden!  Woop woop!  Raise the roof!  And other such cool exclamations!

And then we were full …

g and I were bummed – there was still so much food our mouths wanted to taste, but our stomachs had had enough!  We decided that TG was the way to go for Mother’s Day brunch – not to say that Cochon would have been worse, but there really is something special about their brunch.  While it’s not as heavy as Cochon (which g and I like – we were full, but we didn’t feel disgusting), it’s also not as inexpensive as Cochon, so I don’t know how often we can afford to go.  I think Cochon will remain our usual adsz Sunday brunch pick, with TG winning “special occasion Sunday brunch”.  So great job TG!  We look forward to seeing you this weekend.  I hope you guys are ready for the crazy that is Mother’s Day.

Written by afterdinnersneeze

10 May 2012 at 9:01am

“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.

Written by afterdinnersneeze

23 April 2012 at 6:53pm

Cochon makes a say: OMG

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a says: OMG.  Update for our post:
http://www.citypaper.net/blogs/mealticket/Weeknight-dealage-through-the-end-of-the-year-at-cochon.html
Oh, and when are we going back?

t says:  Thursday?

g says: yippeee!

Written by afterdinnersneeze

1 November 2011 at 8:11pm

Posted in Happenings

Tagged with ,

Fall Fits Cochon like a Pigskin Glove

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a says: October 2011, Dinner, Party of 3. My mother was in town, so we wanted a nice dinner out but nothing too expensive. This likely meant byob and unfussy food. v and I have hit most of these places in Old City several times and wanted to show my Mom something new. I narrowed it down to two finalists, Chloe and Cochon, and after some debate, we decided on Cochon since they recently switched to a fall menu. (I realize Cochon is not located in Old City but it was close enough for our purposes, and more importantly, it never disappoints.) Readers of adsz are already familiar with our (a, v, t, g, and kp) amorous relationship with Cochon’s brunch but we felt their dinner service deserved some love, also.

Holy flying pigs did they deliver. We arrived to find the place almost empty, not a complete surprise on a weekday but undeserved considering the Cochon experience. There are always a few menu additions so we waited to hear those before making a final decision – v and I were leaning toward pork (duh) and my mother, toward escargots and gnocchi. The specials for the night only confirmed our initial inklings of pork and snail-filled bliss. Among the important information provided by our waitress was this lovely nugget: for $30, a patron could have 3 courses and a complimentary beer. OH. MY. GOD. Each course’s options were limited to a few dishes, but get this, escargots were a first course option and PORK BELLY (t’s “Pork Caps”) was a second course option, even though it wasn’t on the menu. After dinner, I sent t the picture below and this tidbit: “Yeah, that’s right, the PORK BELLY dish is in full effect @ Cochon… and it was amazing.” (update: It looks like the $30 prix fixe menu is only for October, their anniversary month, so get on over!)

My mother ordered the fried oysters and the vegetarian gnocchi, an off-menu option, which comes with roasted vegetables. I went with the $30 prix fixe and chose the escargot, PORK BELLY, and poor boy dessert (and Great Lakes Burning River pale ale). v only ordered an entree, slow-cooked suckling pig, since we knew a lot of food was on its way. Cochon is never one to be fussy with plating but everything looked lovely when it came to the table and the flavors soared from there.

"PORK BELLY"

All protein was cooked perfectly, with the PORK BELLY soft and tender less the crispy, crunchy skin. The sleeper dish of the night was definitely my mom’s gnocchi which had the perfect pillow-y consistency paired with harmonious flavors. v has had her share of homemade gnocchi and has even made some herself – none have compared to the consistency of these light, fluffy, tender gnocchi. The fried oysters with fennel were somehow light (for the night) and refreshing, and the escargots were solid.  A slight edge for escargot flavor might go to Bibou but the surrounding pancetta, garlic-butter sauce at Cochon made us ask for extra bread to sop-up every last bit.

One knock on the meal from v, the lentils under her pork were “overpoweringly” salty and did not compare to the tour de force that are Bibou lentils. We ended with the poor boy dessert which was some mix of bacon ice cream, shortbread, and caramel gooeyness served warm in a ramekin. This was better than I expected as I don’t think of Cochon as a dessert place, and put a smile on each of our faces. v thinks this dessert was reminiscent, but not as delectable as the caramel budino at Barbuzzo.

I went with a Graf Hardegg “Vom Schloss” Riesling 2008 which I thought could hold-up to pork while matching well with the appetizer options. We’ve had this in the past and it has always served us well with its medium body, off-dry crispness. The apple and citrus flavors cut through the richness of the pork and escargots. The Great Lakes pale ale was a nice treat to start dinner and clear the palate. Oink.

t says:  Loving the Pork Caps.

Written by afterdinnersneeze

27 October 2011 at 12:08am