While Frenchman Michel Moran has been an impressive force on Warsaw’s dining scene for a number of years, the cuisine of his homeland has never really broken big in this country – puzzling when considering the cultural and historic ties between the two nations.
At least, that was the case till now. French cuisine is experiencing a boom in Warsaw, with a number of Gallic projects realized this year. Bistro la Cocotte is one such place, and comes with possibly the best setting of the lot – round the corner from pl. Zbawiciela and snuck inside a residential courtyard on Mokotowska. While the location isn’t the most conspicuous it feels oh so right: with its boutiques and wine stores and art nouveau tenements, is there a street that feels more Parisian than this?
And with access through a shadowy courtyard, the sensation you’re stepping inside a little secret is a pleasure in itself. Presenting itself in a riot of red and white gingham Cocotte feels warm and intimate, a factor aided by a small open kitchen and the atmosphere of home. The menu, chalked up on the blackboard, is a flexible affair that makes use of the ingredients at hand, and is divided into a smattering of starters, desserts, salads and plat du jour.
On my visit I order beef carbanade, which to my knowledge is actually more of a Belgian dish – and that is not the only influence from the Low Countries. There is Belgian beer, among which appears Duvel, Westamalle, Kriek and Leffe. The beef transpires to be soft and tender and falls apart on the fork, and is all the better for being served in a delicious stew of mushrooms, onion and bacon. The accompaniment of thick chips is a natural addition and just what’s needed to soak up the sauce. This is simple, honest comfort food at its best.
Then, for dessert, I order a strawberry tart: a delicious slice of sin with a delicious creamy base. Again, it’s uncomplicated but so right for the venue. As a neighborhood bistro Cocotte succeeds on every level. That the cooking is good and the prices fair (the most expensive dish spotted: duck confit – 39zł) just adds to the overall experience. This is a place to savor, a place to wallow in the slow life and forget Warsaw outside. And if the city had another thirty venues like this, then that wouldn’t be enough.
(words and pictures: AW)
Bistro la Cocotte ul. Mokotowska 12, facebook