Destinations Magazine

Ma Cocotte in the St Ouen Flea Market: Coolest Resto, Toilets and Clientele of the Year; Food, Well, Quoting a French Expert "Nothing Very Special."

By Johntalbott

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5.0 Ma Cocotte, 108 Rue des Rosiers, 93400 Saint-Ouen (Bus #85 Paul Bert),, has been generating hype/buzz since long before it opened in October to interesting reviews; interesting in that everyone commented on the decor etc. and gave fewer words about the food.  But in the closing days of 2012, I felt we had to go with our neighbors who were just back from their journey around the Cape Horn.

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The formule is extraordinary - 2 courses for 24 and 3 for 29 euros including a 1/2 of bottle of water or a glass of wine; but on closer inspection, nothing was truly jumping out at your eyes stuff - Paris mushrooms and shrimp and hachis joues de boeuf seemed the most daring of choices.

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The bar/common table is cool, the garage door beams are cool, the tile is cool and the open (that is, "California" kitchen) is cool.  The clientele is hip, the waitfolk speak English and I'm sure other tongues antique-hounds speak and the place had a pleasant buzz that belied its 40-70 dB level.

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The food John? - the food?  Oh yah.  Well Colette and I started off with the champignons de Paris and shrimp, cold, in a delicious sauce and our friends split a generous portion of foie gras with a chutney, ok, but nothing special.  No pictures John?  Ans. I was jet-lagged, dazed and confused.  Then Colette had two pieces of a passable farm chicken with "boring" mashed potatoes (and she knows her mashies), our friend #1 up the hill a banal blanquette de veau, and friend #2 up the hill, a parmentier.  At the last minute I switched from the hachis to a tartare (bad error) and frites (good move).

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Then, while I was not allowed to have a dessert (Quote from Mom, circa 1941, "If you don't finish your food you can't have dessert, there are starving children in China [PS "Mom, 'still', and Appalachia too"]), I watched and dug into their rice pudding, creme citron crumble and Baba - annnaah.

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We interrupt this program to bring you an important announcement about Ma Cocotte's decor - "It is cool, Philippe Starck cool, from the cool elevators to the cool bathrooms to the cool second floor."  Pop quiz (do they have those anymore?) See if you can find Waldo, aka Colette, who refuses to have her real name or image damaged by the likes of meself, unlike Francois Simon, whose mug is  plastered all over kitchen walls.

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OK, it's reckoning-up time.  Our bill, I dunno, once again, these guys up the hill out-classed me and put a literary gun to the head of the place, so I never saw it, but, but, but with a 29 E formule, 35-45 E a la carte and 18 E Talmar wine, you can do the math.  BTW, the bread was exceptional and did I mention the decor, clientele and toilets - Ok, so.....

Go?  As it was supposedly said long ago, "You can't eat the scenery."  One of our friends, described by his partner as a "person who never has a bad word to say about anyone," declared "Nothing very special."

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