Le Cote Brasserie
700 Tchoupitoulas St
New Orleans La
This venue located in a historic warehouse built in 1910, which operated as a furniture company for many years, was the site of my Vintner Dinner. The exterior retains an industrial air with brick walls and metal clad windows. The green canopies give the hint that something else lies within. In front of an open kitchen a 50-foot counter functions as bar, dinning table and raw bar. Executive Chef Chuck Subra born in New Iberia combines South Louisiana seafood cuisine with Asian influences.
The wine being poured that night was from Alexander Valley Vineyard. The original acreage purchased in 1962 by the Wetzel family included land owned by the founding settler Cyrus Alexander. In the 1975 they began making extraordinary Chardonnays and Cabernet Sauvignon. Over the years they established themselves as producers of elegant age worthy wines. Robert Wetzel, Family Partner, and Arnold Gilberg both in the sales end were on hand to represent the winery.
The evening started off with an hors d’oeuvre table of oysters Rockefeller, various cheeses, in-house pate, and sugared walnuts. It was accompanied by Redemption Zinfandel. Not an obvious choice but with the black pepper/blackberry palate and balanced acid it set off the various items nicely. The pate was especially good. Next came Ahi Roulade, raw tuna wrapped in rice paper on a bed of carrot shreds. A dipping sauce made with soy and citrus came with it. The wine was New Gewurz from the North Coast. Cold fermented in steel it retained a good deal of the spicy nature of the grape. The citrus and ginger tones with the crisp finish with a touch of sugar paired well against the earthiness of the tuna and the dipping sauce.
Next came Pan Seared Scallops. Large diver scallops with a crusty exterior and almost raw interior sitting on a passion fruit emulsion containing lobster vanilla oil. The Estate Chardonnay served made a perfect match. The combination of steel and French oak fermentation gave it wonderful fruit overtones with a slightly oaky backbone. Chardonnay always friendly to seafood took a giant leap with this wine. The sweet scallop with the fruit emulsion with its vanilla undertone walked step in step with the wine and brought both to greatness.
The second course consisted of Foie Gras, Sweet Breads, White Asparagus, and Wild Mushroom matched with the Estate Cabernet Sauvignon. The dish itself started off with a base of asparagus spears with a sauce of sweetbreads chunks and wild mushrooms topped by a piece of seared foie gras. The wine possessed complex dark berry tones with a structured tannin base that did not pucker out your mouth. The richness of the wine boosted the earthy quality of every ingredient except the asparagus. I found it to be a false note both in texture and flavor. In my opinion a contrast that did not work and I basically ate around it. I consumed the vegetable then revealed in the rest of the dish.
The main entree proved to be Veal Osso Buco with Saffron Couscous. It stood with Cyrus; a Boudreaux variety blend called Meritage in the US. I had concerns about this dish (too heavy for the weather) but the meat portions were sane and extremely tender and flavorful. The couscous treated North African style with cinnamon and cloves lent lightness to the dish. The wine fit this dish like a glove. The berries and chocolate palate with firm tannins and toasty oak tones meet the dish and did not overcome but instead brought both to new heights. Definitely a case of similarities boosted each other.
The dessert consisted of a Black Forest Mousse Tort with Sauteed Wild Cherries on a White Chocolate Brandy Anglaise paired with Sin Zin. On a chocolate cake base stood layer upon layer of different mousses with a surprise inside (some of the cherries). The cherry and black pepper palate of the wine heightens the chocolate experience. I find I prefer Zinfandel to Cabernet most of the time because of such characteristics. It makes an excellent compliment to chocolate. The tart was not too sweet and the wine not too tannic. The oak ageing (75% American and 25% French) adds just the right aggressiveness to it and lead to a balanced finish.