Though I’ve eaten there twice and enjoyed both meals immensely, I have no photos to share of Le Cotte-Rôti. It’s not because I didn’t have my camera: I have learned to take it everywhere I go. The fact is that I don’t really enjoy taking pictures of my lunch or dinner. I mean, who does that? Who takes pictures of their asparagus soup?
Oh right. I do.
Still, I do it reluctantly. Most of the time, I’d rather just enjoy the meal, get lost in my thoughts, or continue the conversation. I hate saying, “Wait! Don’t touch that, I need to take a picture,” my friends’ forks caught in suspended animation above their plates.
Don’t get me wrong, I like having the photos, and sharing them with you. The visual aid jolts my memory, and helps me to write. I just don’t like taking them.
It’s a shame, really, because the food at Le Cotte-Rôti is both delicious and beautiful.
The restaurant sits on the corner of Rue de Cotte and Rue Charenton in the 12th arrondissiment. (Its name is a play on the famous Côte Rôtie appelation of the northern Rhone.) The block is lively during the day thanks to the nearby Aligre market, but at night this a sleepy little pocket of Paris, albeit one with its own dining scene: Rue de Cotte is a sort of restaurant row in this quiet, decidedly non-touristy quartier.
I ate here by myself one afternoon in February — it was by far the best meal of that short trip — and made a point of returning earlier this month for dinner.
The serveuse actually remembered me. Maybe because I had had three courses and two glasses of wine for my solo lunch. But seriously, how could I have said no to dessert when the first two rounds had been so, so good? I was a goner after the appetizer, a rich “onctueuse” of chestnuts. Onctueuse is exactly what it was: Thick, silky, and savory, garnished with lardons and topped with unsweetened whipped cream. My main course was a crisp-skinned chicken thigh over celery root purée and dessert was a spiked and spiced compote of prunes with a slice of french toast.
You know, just a little lunch. (At a little price: The midday formule was only €19.)
Dinner was as good or better. There was a creamy pumpkin soup with a plump ricotta dumpling. There was cod topped with elegant pleurotte mushrooms and tarragon. There were sweetbreads. There was a truffled potato purée. There was a white Burgundy from a somewhat obscure premier cru that had some truffle aromas of its own. There was riz-au-lait with salted caramel.
Of course, I have no proof of any of this. You’re just going to have to take my word for it.
Le Cotte-Rôti, 1 Rue de Cotte, Paris 75012, +33 (0)1 43 45 06 37