Ode to a Delicious Friday Night

Oh, Coquette Café. Where have you been all my life? You, with your perfect linens and pretty waitstaff. Your favorable wine list and the funny little breads. And your desserts…oh, your desserts.

Last Friday night, the man introduced me to a new (to me) restaurant in the Third Ward, Coquette Café. Interestingly enough, it does have new ownership. Randy said it hasn’t changed at all, so I take that to mean it has been heaven all along.

At 8pm we managed to walk right in and be sat at a table with a view into the dance class across the street (dinner and a show!). Our waitress was knowledgeable, but unobtrusive. We started with a glass of wine, Soupe à l’Oignon (that’s French Onion Soup with Melted Gruyère Cheese for y’all non-Francophiles out there) and a piece of bread that was served in a paper bag. Yeh, I don’t get that either. The bread was a little dry, but the soup was outstanding. There were enough onions in the homemade beef stock that it almost had the consistency of a stew.  The bread was the perfect size and both it and the cheesy crust allowed themselves to be cut with the soft side of a spoon so we didn’t have to slurp up the soup. (That doesn’t mean Randy didn’t. I think if his tongue was long enough, he would have licked out the bowl!)

Halfway through our main course I remembered to take pictures. I had the Casserole of Sautéed Eggplant with Tomato Concasse and Parmesan Custard that was so unbelievable I had to just stop talking. The eggplant was so rich and the custard so creamy. It was like eating a bowl of eggplant parmigana without needing a fork or knife. So delicate for such a hearty dish. Heaven.  Randy got the special of the evening, a Jamaican spiced tilapia with unique grain served risotto style and sautéed greens. While he enjoyed his meal, I think we both liked mine better.

Then it came time for dessert and I ordered the chocolate mousse, because, well, that’s what I do. Randy ordered the crème brulee. The desserts came out, I tucked into my mousse and asked Randy if I could try his. I honestly don’t think I’ve ever had crème brulee before. If there’s a chocolate option, I always go that route.

Well, holy hell, have I been missing out all these 29 years! You know how I said above that if Randy’s tongue was long enough, he’d lick his soup bowl? Well, it was only because the waitress took away the empty dish that I did not use my finger to get every last ounce of fresh vanilla bean custard or miniscule shard of burnt sugar. Oh, the burnt sugar that tasted like perfectly roasted marshmallows fresh from the fire. My eyes may or may not have rolled into the back of my head at this point.

So anyway, if you get a chance, may I recommend the delightful Coquette Café at 316 N. Milwaukee Street here in Milwaukee for a night out on the town? Or as a place to pick up a cooking class or Day in the Kitchen for your favorite person with a birthday coming up….whatever.


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