The Best Fancy Breakfast Dish of 2016
There’s a word for the dish billed as “coeur de l’entrecote, dix par dix, beurre maître d’hotel” on the breakfast menu at Le Coucou, the chef Daniel Rose’s restaurant in Soho, and that word is lucullan. Lucullan conveys a turned up luxuriousness. It's derived from the name of a dead and ancient Roman politician who would probably rather stay that way than try and wrastle with Opentable, the concept of slim-fit menswear, and the neo-gilded age opulence of the dining room where they serve this dish, which is essentially glorified steak and eggs.
The specifics: Rose does not use wet- or dry-aged beef and does not deploy fancy, made-up descriptors like “Gold Label” or “Cleaverman’s Reserve.” The entrecote is just a good, well-seasoned cut of rib-eye kept on hand for breakfast and brunch service only, which means you don’t get the cross-utilized leftovers from someone else’s luxe dinner. The dix par dix in the name refers to the ten-second sear each side gets on the plancha, while maitre'd hotel is just textbook compound butter that has for decades been little more than a rote chore of culinary students. It’s infinitely dense and redeemed here with minced chervil, tarragon, and the greenest greens. Fried eggs are daintily brown at the edges, and black pepper is sprinkled like sunspots onto their yolky quotient only. (“The yolk is better with pepper than the white, I think,” Rose says.) There’s a pile of neatly dressed salad on the plate, too, if that’s your thing.
Because all breakfast has inherent power, the concept of a power breakfast is pretty dumb. Especially in New York City, where the term is used to describe the power broker regulars at places like the Loews Regency, who filter in at 7 a.m. (bankers), 8 (real estate moguls) and 9 (all remaining bigwigs and Larry King). The people are powerful, the food is lackluster: A deputy mayor orders unfancy oatmeal, some bigshot producer opts for a sliced banana on a plate. Famously, Larry King had a standing order at the Regency for a burnt corn muffin that no doubt cost a lot more than it should have.
At its best, with its mismatched clientele, bric-a-brac-ish Limoges-style sugarcube holders on the tables, and the approximately one billion low-watt light bulbs in the chandeliers, the bustle at Le Coucou suggests a less stodgy, reformed power breakfast. At $30, the entrecote is among the most pricey morning dishes offered to the city’s breakfast ballers, and tellingly, a lot of them don’t even look at the check when it comes. But the steak is delicious, and those fried eggs seem perfect enough to have just stepped out of someone’s breakfast dream, if not yours.