Le Coucou

Perhaps against all odds, Daniel Rose has been impressing Parisians for a decade with his local-ingredient-driven restaurant Spring, which opened in the city’s Ninth Arrondissement in 2006, later moving to the First. These are the people who invented the Michelin Star, after all, and Rose learned to cook almost on a whim at the Institut Paul Bocuse in Lyons after studying history and mathematics at the American University of Paris.

Given all that, opening a restaurant stateside might seem easy, but: “I think New York will be tougher and they have every right to be,” said Rose late last week from Le Coucou, his new endeavor at 11 Howard, Aby Rosen's recently-opened hotel in Manhattan, on the day the eatery was set to soft open. “Paris is a city that sleeps. There’s still something called Sunday in Paris, that doesn’t exist [in New York]. There’s a nonstop nature here, which is fun.”

Located in the “wonky” neighborhood of Little Italy, between Soho and Chinatown, Le Coucou offers Americanized versions of traditional French cuisine. “You can never really change the way you cook, but because we have access to different kinds of products, and different cooks and different equipment, it changes the nature of things you do,” Rose said.

To wit, ingredients are locally sourced, in keeping with his philosophy, but being 3,600 miles from Paris has resulted in dishes he couldn’t possibly imagine for Spring or La Bourse et La Vie, his second restaurant in the City of Lights. “I never saw black bass before in my life!” he said. “I never saw tile fish, and we don’t get halibut that’s so big.”

Fish from Long Island, scallops from Maine, chickens sourced from Chinatown - “They all have to be something special,” said Rose of his ingredients. “If you fill your arsenal with lots of special things, then it makes your mission a lot easier.”

The mission being his menu, which is comprised of tomato and pea salad with strawberries and pistachios, veal tongue with caviar, black bass with fermented daikon, and prime filet with bone marrow jus and oxtail potatoes—dishes that sound lofty but are meant to be eaten everyday.

“New Yorkers eat out a lot, right? So you can’t eat an Ambassadors Dinner every day of the week,” Rose said. “It’s not conducive to working 18 hours a day or whatever people do here. So you want to find a place where you can have a bit of a party and feel nourished, and also leave feeling light.”

For his first foray into the American market, Rose teamed up with some experts: Stephen Starr, the restaurateur behind Buddakan, Upland and Morimoto; and the design team Roman and Williams, who used steel chandeliers, salvaged marble and reclaimed oak flooring to offset the open kitchen with hand-glazed teal tiles. The bar, meanwhile, is meant to invoke a grand manor house, with a vaulted ceiling and hand-painted mural.

“It’s a very grand dinner but at the end it’s very clean,” Rose said. “That’s always been the signature of Spring restaurant.”

Not that he’s banking on his past successes.

“There are always concerns, anytime you do something new,” he says. “I think New York has its own set of concerns, but it’s such a vibrant exciting place to be, and a very different place than Paris. So I get the best of both worlds.”

Produced by Biel Parklee. Photography Assistant: Heehyun Oh.