Daniel Rose's Epic French New Year's Feast
Where to spend New Year’s Eve hasn’t been an issue for Daniel Rose for more than a decade. The Chicago native opened his first Paris restaurant, Spring, in 2006. A second Right Bank bistro, La Bourse et La Vie, followed nine years later. “Every other night of the year we throw a party in Paris for our guests,” says Rose, “but on New Year’s we close. I cook for family and friends at home.”
This year, however, Rose, whose pre-Spring résumé includes stints in the kitchens of Paul Bocuse and Yannick Alléno, has opened his first-ever restaurant in the United States; Le Coucou is in New York City, where shuttering on December 31 is akin to breaking a hospitality law.
Rose’s long-awaited American debut felt New Year’s–ready from the moment it opened last summer and started plating its airy pike quenelles, a highlight from its uncompromisingly French menu. Unlike his low-key and intimate restaurants in Paris, Le Coucou occupies a glamorous and generously sized room now considered to be among the most beautiful places to eat in Manhattan. Champagne, oysters on the half shell and midnight kisses suit the dramatic decor, courtesy of design-world superstars Roman and Williams: pewtered-steel chandeliers, upholstery in mohair and velvet, a bar that manages to feel timeless despite being only a few months old.
For Rose, New Year’s is the night when he wants to join the fun and not be stuck in the kitchen the whole time. “You’ve just come from Christmas with all its ceremony and its rules,” he says. “New Year’s has to be free-form.” Kids are allowed to stay up late, and guests, he feels, should come to the table when they please, if at all.
So Rose and his wife, Marie-Aude (they met when she applied for a job at Spring), put the food out all at once and let people have at it. And to keep things “simple,” they always plan a few room-temperature dishes, like leeks vinaigrette. Preparation, he says, is a more casual act for New Year’s, too. “I don’t worry about chopping too fine.” He’ll cut the sea scallops into sizable cubes and garnish them with endive leaves in a curry vinaigrette. And for the apple cake he serves for dessert, the fruit remains chunky and piled high on top. “It’s my grandmother’s recipe,” he says. “Every pastry chef I’ve ever worked with screws it up by making it too fancy.” An oysters Normande starter may sound like a task, but Rose debunks the notion quickly: “Shuck oysters, add cream, broil.”
A New Year’s done right, according to Rose, leaves its mark well into January. “There have to be Champagne glasses left in places where you won’t even find them for a week or two,” he says. “That’s how you’ll really know you had a good time.”
Le Coucou chef Daniel Rose stirs apples into the batter of this pound cake–like dessert and then tops it with more of the Calvados-spiked fruit. We think we could eat this cake pretty much each and every day of the fall and be extremely happy. We think you would be too.
Roland Bello Roland Bello