New Orleans Report: The Hit Restaurant, Cochon
The hit restaurant of the festival was Cochon. It seemed to be where everyone was going all the time. With its slightly elevated down-home Cajun cuisine, Cochon represented a pinnacle of well-executed but un-gussied greatness. It was where I went within 30 minutes of getting to my hotel. Scott Beattie of Cyrus fame went with me, and we ran into Amanda Washington, a bartender at Rye along the way (the Big Easy was so loaded with SF bartenders that, wherever you went, you couldn't swivel your head without seeing at least two or three).
Several things stood out on Cochon's menu, particularly the baked oysters, fried alligator with chile-garlic aioli, fried pig's ears, rabbit and dumplings and hen-and-sausage gumbo (below).
But if you regularly read this blog, you know that I'm a big root beer fan, and so I was mightily impressed that the menu had its own root-beer section. First I've ever seen, though you will note that the selection is not so exciting.
Furthermore, I drank good old Abita Select and a Sazerac made with Hardy's rye, which was a surprisingly good match with that dark and charred gumbo. My first meal ended up being one of the best.