American diners tend to love a doggie bag, especially if they've been served up a huge portion of food (not to mention paid for it). But in restaurants in Europe, especially upscale ones, doggie bags are often seen as a big faux pas. The same goes for French restaurants in the States, which usually serve more pristine (read: moderate) portions, and don't want to risk spoiling their image by sending customers home with unsightly bags of leftovers.
But as the New York Times reports, Le Coq Rico, a much-heralded Parisian spot that dedicates itself to roast chicken—and that now has a branch in Manhattan's Flatiron district—is bringing elegance to the oft brown-bagged leftovers.
The restaurant, headed up by chef Antoine Westermann, focuses on whole birds—served at about $108 a pop—and often inspires guests to want to take home whatever they didn't finish. But instead of hastily packaging up the ripped-apart chicken into drab bags, the staff sees its diners' desire to save every morsel as a special opportunity.
"The star of our menus are the whole roasted birds, and after they are enjoyed at the table, we offer our clients the carcass along with an unfinished meat to take home,” Anthony Battaglia, the general manager of Le Coq Rico in New York, told The Feast over email.
The leftovers, carcasses and all, are placed in a glossy takeout bag, and included with the food are easy-to-follow recipes meant to feed any member of the family (doggie or not) at home. One recipe for the leftovers makes this stunning Poultry, Tuna and Tomato Tartare, also featured on the restaurant's website:
The response has been overwhelmingly positive, say Battaglia. “Mostly, people are very surprised that we would include the carcass. They assume that they'll just give it to their dogs, but then they see the recipes are realize that they can cook with it. We've had a few people come back into the restaurant to let us know how delicious the recipes were."
As for the poor dogs who assumed that bag of food was destined for their bowl? Guess they're out of luck.
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