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Cocagne

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cocagne has been open for 3 days...it hasn't been busy yet. I think it is a refreshing alternative to l'express, maybe it doesn't have that comfy feel of familiarity (yet?) but the prices are extremely reasonable, the portions just, and the originality and freshness of the food commendable. particulatly good were the entrees of the day, marinated sardines with pine nuts, watercress and roasted red peppers, and the smoked/marinated herring salad with potatoes, watercress and a delicious tarragon mayonnaise with shallots and bits of egg. It may seem surprising to see a chicken breast on the menu but really, it was amazing. simplicity supplied with skill. and where else can you eat escargots with pleurottes, sundried tomatoes and gnocci in a creamy parsley broth?

i think you stand little chance of being disappointed, food wise, unless you are really picky and expecting toque. the wine list isn't fabulous but there are plenty of affordable bottles...simplicity.

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Sorry, but that menu hardly sounds like an alternative to L'Express. And the prices are a lot more than L'Express as well. Mains are in the $20-$30 range. At L'Express they don't go over $20.

They will not be serving lunch any time soon.

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is cocagne gonna serve lunches, too?


"Bells will ring, ting-a-ling-a-ling, ting.... the bell... bing... 'moray" -John Daker

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Was at cocagne(bistro orgueilleux) with a chef friend from London as well as another chef from montreal last night.Not exacltly what we expected, we thought it was going to be a bistro and thats exactly what it wasnt.A 2 course meal with a beer and glass of wine was 55 can$ which for a bistro is quite insane.The food was good but not exceptionnal, the portions were small as well.The feel of the room was quite cold no real ambiance, service was good.It just seems to me that they create a confusion stating that they are a bistro, it`s just not. We will try it again in a month or so to have a better idea, I know they`ve just opened i`ll give em that.

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It sounds bit more like Toque! lite to me than bistro. Bigorre, can you give us an idea of what you ate?

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As we entered the bistro orgueilleux we were asked to put our jackets on hangers situated by the entrance under the eyes of 1 bartender 2 waiters looking at us doing fu*k all just looking pretty there in front of us.WE then were escorted in the back of the room which was about 20% full.The time was 8 oclock,thursday night.Passing by the pathetic oyster showcase in the middle of the room I ask myself exactly what they were trying to create as for atmosphere.Obviously not the typical bistro in my little head or my friends.First course came , pork belly and baked beans in tomato sauce.The piece of belly was about 80 grams which is a nice portion but the actual cut was not spectacular, too much fat compared to meat, the cuisson was excellent melting in mouth but underseasoned , no salt on the table grrrrr grrrrrr the belly wasnt seared either which I think is quite important to do for adding flavor and texture, regarding the beans in tomato sauce I wont comment cause that too pisses me off.My friend had greens and rabbit kidneys, that would be a very small portion of lettuces and 5 half pieces of kidneys it was pathetic it was a two bite salad , innaceptable for the price charged.Then came the sweetbreads , really good sweetbreads (27$) good portion but the sauce was just non existent it was this little drizzle around the beautiful piece of veal,It came with a quarter of roasted salsifis and some puree of roasted garlic.The other dish was Omble chevalier wrapped with bacon beautiful cuisson moist fish.When I usually go the a bistro I don`t expect a culinary experience or some little epicurious adventure I expect great ambiance cheap wine fast service and low prices I just want to be there enjoy myself talk loud and be merry! Cocagne was everything but that. sorry , like i said before I will try it again it might be a warmer ambiance soon and I wish they do become what they want a BISTRO!

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That's very true. It would be a smarter move to open something casual in that space, and perhaps work up to a slightly more complex menu. Your meal there didn't sound all that different from what you might have to fork over -- expense-wise-- at Toque!

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Robert Beauchemin (aka, Beaucher) reviews Cocagne today in La Presse and gives the restaurant four stars (out of five, I think)

http://www.cyberpresse.ca/dossiers_a/04200...04,646194.shtml

Geez, what's that restaurant been open now? Two weeks? Robert, seems a tad early for a review, no?

(notice I called the place a restaurant. If that establishment is a bistro, I'm a monkey's uncle :hmmm: )

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Have to agree, read it this morning and thought I was still dreaming.

The description seems at odds, there is mention about the classical bistro, then the description of the place itslef, the plates and the price seem to stretch the definition... However, looks like the food and plates are very well taken care of, in the past, I've never been at odds with Robert's star system. This one gets a question mark, I'll defintely have to give it a try soon.

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I read that too. I think the only problem here seems to be the bistro moniker... Hot review for sure...

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Funny though, I couldn't quite get a take on the food from that review. Or should I say, I wasn't tempted by the makeup of the dishes.

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Funny though, I couldn't quite get a take on the food from that review. Or should I say, I wasn't tempted by the makeup of the dishes.

Hmm. I found the dishes more appealing than those discussed in other reiviews. But, then, descriptions of prefect sweetbreads always make me swoon. It's true that Tastet discusses only the dishes he and his companion ate, though — that's, what, six in all? Strange, too, his failure to mention the wine list ("Le Chambolle dissout les graisses à la perfection" doesn't count). Especially when the resto's website is useless in the menu and wine departments. The man certainly knows how to string a sentence together, though.

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:shock: Jean Philippe Tastet's reviews are usually quite ambiguous, meaning they don't offer a detailed, structured account of the food. I'm wondering what it is about the food he did describe that you didn't feel "tempted by"...the focus on organ meats?

He conveyed quite obviously, if one is to have any faith in his writing, that the food was better than just good. what is so deterring about this?

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Jean-Philippe is a great friend of mine, so I'm not knocking his writing, which I think is superb. :wub:

It's more about the menu at Cocagne, which never grabbed me or made sense in the bistro genre. Guess I'll wait to get over there and see for myself.

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I've eaten three times at Cocagne and i can say that the food has changed a bit.I really enjoyed my first time but prefered my last time that was two weeks ago. The food was always nice but like every other restaurant, it is getting more precise. Come on give it some time!(everybody no matter what the job takes time to truly fullfill a task specially when he's the big boss) :wink:

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That's an interesting topic, how long does it take for a chef to get up to speed in a restaurant? Look at chefs like Claude Pelletier, Normand Laprise and Nicolas Jongleux, who really were very good in their new restaurants from the get go. My first meal at Toque! remains one of my best, so I don't really believe everyone does better with time in their first year.

Long term is a different story, as is my experience with La Chronique this week -- which has never been better.

As for Cocagne, I think Loiseau seems like the kind of chef who needs time to find his style in this new restaurant, especially because it lacks a sharp focus (forget the bistro thing).

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I'll repeat one of my favorite sentence:

In a ring, anybody can be a champion for a few seconds, but how many can hold up 12 rounds...


Alexandre G.

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Alex is thre type of guy who will get better with time.It's true that this bistro thing is a bit confusing but more probably to us.Last time i ate there, the food was very close to what a bistro offers(when you read the menu) but the presentations were modern (moderately).A Cafe in Paris and a Cafe in Montreal are not the same thing.Here you will expect Van Houtte or Starbucks but in Paris you are dealing with a much more refined business.What do we really expect from cocagne?It'strue that the prices are a bit high for a bistro but isn't that what orgueilleux is all about.I was in the same situation when i opened Lemeac, everybody was comparing us to other bistros and one of my competitors was just across the street.When you think of it,L'Express,Levesque, Gauthier are doing a fine job and the last thing we need is another clone of these guys. Alex has never worked in these kind of places so he can't be doing that stuff.I totally agree with Lesley when she says that he still needs time to truly find his voice. The first few months you open your doors and say this is what we do but you also ajust to your clientele.That's what i mean when i say give it more time!

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It's funny how some chefs start focused, then are all over the place style-wise, and other chefs are all over the place style-wise and eventually find their focus.

As for the bistro description of Cocagne, I always thought it was a way for the new boy, Loiseau, to set himself apart from his famous boss, Laprise. :wink:

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okay, i think from the beginning the term "bistro" has given cocagne a certain definifion to live up to. it is not l'express. but it is just as much a "bistro" or more so than lemeac is. the prices have come down slightly since the beginning and the menu has undergone changes, not because the chef is struggling to find his style...that hasn't changed, but there is a conciousness of adapting to clientele, a clientele bent on the definition of what a bistro is. does au pied du cochon classify as a "bar", which is technically what it's chef wanted? in montreal it is rated amongst gastronomic restaurants, which is not what it set out to be nor what it purports itself to be. and yet it is thriving and people go to enjoy it whether it is a "bar" or a restaurant. it is unfair to say that the chef of cocagne has chosen the bistro appelation in order to distinguish himself from the chef of toque. cocagne doesn't pretend to offer the same fare as toque and its classification as a "bistro orgeilleux" is original and genuine, as are its food offerings.the menu will not remain unchanged year-round, year in and year out, because the chef takes into account our seasonal changes and makes an effort to optomize his offerings with personal findings such as wild leeks and garlic, giving his food even more oomph than one would normally expect from a typical "bistro". the variety and the cuts of meats offered as mains are not always typical, yet they permit bistro prices and the chef is able to offer the highest quality because he has the skill and cares enough to do something different. i think cocagne deserves more credit than fellow egullet contributors are giving it. it will be appreciated, with time, under the classification which it has assumed, and rightly so.

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OK Oceanfish, whoever you are, look up the definition of bistro then get back to me. :hmmm: And why would it be more of a bistro than Lemeac? Explain. Also, who out there is calling Au Pied de Cochon a gastronomic restaurant? And why is it unfair to say they might have chosen the bistro descriptor to distinguish itself from Toque!? What the hell is wrong with saying that? Not fair??? What the???

Once again, I feel I have to say that I have a really hard time taking comments seriously by anonymous posters. If you want to put some force behind your words, may I suggest you crawl out of the shadows and sign your name. :hmmm:

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Well, I don't feel the need to sign my name. Most of what I read and respond to on this site is written by folks with pseudonyms, and that is just fine with me. It is also fine with me if you are unable to "take seriously" what I contribute because I follow the norm and remain anonymous. I will, however attempt to clarify things from my last posting, if it matters...

What I meant when I said that it was unfair to accuse Loiseau of calling his place a bistro with the intent of distinguishing himself from his former boss is, even though that may hold some truth to it, is that that may not be his REASON for doing so. He DOES have his own focus and style which is unique and therefore may be difficult to compare and assimilate with other "bistros" in montreal. If he were to be doing the same thing in new york, for example, would there be such a dilemma over the genre? I did say that I think cocagne is just as much a bistro as lemeac is, and perhaps went a little too far in adding "or more so" in trying to make a point. the menu at lemeac is widely varied, ingredient wise at least. Is caviar considered affordable bistro fare? maybe so. why are there three variations on plates of foie gras (which by the way in its raw form is not of the same quality as the foie gras alex buys, and yet the menu price is equivalent).

perhaps lemeac seems more bistro like in ambiance...it does have a relaxed and bustling dining room which cocagne lacks at the moment because it is still new. people do come in alone and eat at the bar at cocagne, they come in for a cheese plate or a dessert after a meal elsewhere, and they are welcomed in casual dress.

cocagne does not offer a "menu degustation" which lemeac does, typically not a "bistro" formula. I mainly wanted to say that I think cocagne is strong in originality AND simplicity and therefore may not immediately be seen as what we are familiar with associating with other bistros in town, yet it deserves to be "judged" if that is what is happening here, based on its own merits and standards. Its name, "bistro orgueilleux", leaves room for interpretation, which could perhaps be better understood after having experienced what it has to offer.

as for my comment about Au pied du cochon being viewed as more than a "brasserie"...a 30$plus "hot dog", albeit being composed of lobster and foie gras is served in a purchased hot dog bun, and the recommendation of the waiter to accompany this late night snack being a 17$ glass of wine, with no prices written or spoken, seems like more than one would expect to pay for such a place and meal...perhaps one needs to be more careful in ASKING prices before ordering.

I don't think I left anything out. I will make an effort to refrain from making "unqualified" statements, since I do not believe the qualifier need be my identity.

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