New York's number one new restaurant of 2016 belongs to a Philly guy.
"The genius of this project from the chef Daniel Rose and the restaurateur Stephen Starr is that it gives us almost everything we loved about New York's old-line French restaurants without the things we didn't," NYT restaurant critic Pete Wells wrote.
The writeup for Le Coucou goes on to praise the restaurant's wine list (it "covers the historic old appellations of France"), its seating (which lacks a forgotten "Siberia" section), and its pike quenelles (which "have a finer flavor than the ones at La Grenouille," a beloved French restaurant that opened in New York in 1962).
In a review from November, Wells rated the restaurant three out of a possible five stars — an "excellent" score — and wrote that it would be his "first pick for visitors from out of town who wanted a meal they couldn't have back home."
Starr opened the French-inspired restaurant in May at the 11 Howard Hotel in Manhattan, with the project serving as his sixth eatery in New York. And as Starr told Inquirer food critic Craig LaBan in April, cutting his teeth in Philly gave him the confidence to move on to the Big Apple.
"If you do something in Philly you feel good about, you can make it to New York," Starr said. "I was very insecure to begin with. And I'm still a Philly guy at heart. But I feel like I'm a part of New York right now, too. It feels like it's part of my beach."
In addition to Le Coucou, Starr is involved with New York restaurants including the British-cuisine focused Clocktower and Upland, a "Californian brasserie." A few others — Buddakan, Morimoto, and El Vez — also have locations in Philadelphia.
Starr also recently opened a restaurant in Paris in October called Chez La Vieille. As the New York Times reported earlier this month, the bistro is an 18-seater, and focuses on traditional French cuisine.