Updated on December 17, 2020 by Julia
Address: 29-31 Mengzi Road / 蒙自路29–31号
Hours: Daily, 5:30 PM – 10 PM
Visited: January 2018
Average Cost Per Person: 400-600 RMB
French cuisine definitely is never top of mind when you ask me what I want to eat. I think mainly because, excuse my ignorance, I’m not too sure what French food is defined by. My memories of Paris are genuinely filled with chocolate croissants, mussels, wine, and drunkenly searching for escargot at 1 AM. Cliché. Nevertheless, driven by the strong desire to devour fresh seafood and try Scarpetta’s famous bone marrow pasta, I was driven to Coquille.
Coquille and Scarpetta are run by the same owner. While Coquille is a little pricier and is categorized as a French seafood bistro, Scarpetta leans Italian, popular for its pasta and pizza dishes. However, because they are side by side, you’re free to order from both menus (or maybe you’re not free to do so, but I was the obnoxious customer that did?).
My first impression was that the service was ridiculously slow. Unfortunately, for an establishment that touts the type of atmosphere Coquille attempt to emanate, it seemed like our table was invisible. Maybe it was a busy night, but albeit still awkward that even when I raised my hand and asked for the waiter, he walked straight past me. Although my overall goal is to talk about the food, my expectations for service have to differ for Coquille compared to the 12 RMB beef noodle shop down the street where the cashier yells at me for standing on the wrong side of the line.
We started off with the petit plateau (398 RMB), which is their smallest platter of chilled seafood and comes with half a Boston lobster, four shrimp and two abalones. Honestly, I’m glad we tried to smaller platter, since for the price, I don’t think anyone was genuinely impressed. I’d skip this and spend the 398+ RMB on other items.
Unfortunately, they had run out of mussels for the night, so we settled for the boudeuse oysters (198 RMB). These were definitely a step up from the cold seafood platter. Boudeuse, although smaller oysters, tend to be plumper and meatier. With just a little drizzle of lemon, the mixture of citrus with the sweeter meats made this an amazing amuse bouche. I definitely could’ve eaten the half dozen myself. And then some.
This next dish officially blew my mind. The name, foie gras creme brûlée (128 RMB), sounds unequivocally French. I’ve always been dismissive of foie gras– deeming it unnecessarily fancy food for overly posh sophisticates. Served by itself, I’ve found it underwhelming and bland. But this was another level.
The mixture of the milk and cream gave the foie gras a smooth consistency. Topped with caramelized sugar and cherry sauce, the dish was a perfect topping to the crispy side of toasted carbs. There was definitely not enough bread, but luckily I had forced every one at the table to save our starter basket and happily/greedily sopped up the remaining foie gras and cherry sauce.
I was slightly disappointed by the presentation of the escargots (88 RMB) as I assumed they would be served in-shell, allowing me to really dig in for my meats. However, these were served in their individual basins of what I’ve read is a mixture of red curry and kaffir lime leaves. Unfortunately, another disappointment– especially considering the saucy presentation. The escargots themselves had a perfectly chewy texture, but as a bland meat that needs to be dressed with flavor, it was overwhelming lacking and I couldn’t find any of the curry and lime flavors that the dish profile supposedly touted. Definitely would skip and maybe try the fried frog legs next time.
Our last dish came from Scarpetta and was their famed orecchiette bolognese (half portion) (98 RMB), otherwise known as their bone marrow pasta. I am a pasta/noodle fiend, for anyone who knows me. Topped with a generous serving of bone marrow, I was ready to jump in. The pasta is a little too al dente for my liking, but with the creamy bone marrow mixed in with the intense flavors of the bolognese sauce, this was the dish for me. Luckily, my two companions found the flavor of the bolognese, since it is more meat-based rather than tomato-based as with more typical spaghetti sauces, to be overwhelming, so I happily polished off the dish.
Because we were there for a birthday, we were offered a chocolate mousse cake. As they say, nothing in life is free. The crust seemed stale (when I first bit into it, I thought maybe it wasn’t meant to be eaten because it was hard as a rock), and fell straight off the mousse, which itself lacked any flavor. Que sera sera, right?
It’s important to note that they are known for this grand beef wellington dish. However, due to the sheer size and knowing the appetite of my group, we were never going to finish even half of it so I skipped it this time around. I think if I ever do revisit, I’d come back with a collectively larger group appetite just to experience the one dish.
Recommended dishes: Oysters, foie gras creme brûlée, bone marrow pasta from Scarpetta
Would I return?: I’d come back to try their famed beef wellington, but otherwise, not much pulling me back