San Diego/ Food & Drinks
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Published on June 19, 2024
James Beard Finalist Chef Tara Monsod Launches French Steakhouse Le Coq in La Jolla, San DiegoSource: Google Street View

The culinary scene in La Jolla is getting a boost with the opening of Le Coq, a French-inspired steakhouse headed by James Beard Award finalist Chef Tara Monsod. The institution promises a marriage of modern French cuisine with a Southern Californian flair, teasing the palate with a range of dishes that reflect Monsod's knack for infusing Asian elements into her cooking. Previously recognized for spotlighting Filipino food and culture, Monsod represented San Diego at the James Beard Awards gala, claiming a spot as the city's first finalist in the Best Chef: California category for her work at Animae, as reported by Eater San Diego.

Le Coq, debuting into the lively dining tapestry of San Diego, sits comfortably in a sizeable space of 7,500 square feet, formerly housing Herringbone. The concept, conceived by the culinary duo Brian Malarkey and Christopher Puffer, seeks to delve into the essence of French steakhouses while embracing the robust local cuisine scene. Monsod, who was propelled to the limelight as Animae's lead, continues her ascension, bringing forth dishes like a kare kare and dinuguan interpretation, which have been "elevated to the fine dining stage," Eater San Diego details.

The restaurant's offerings include a nod to traditional French footholds such as chicken liver mousse, sweetbreads, and bavette steak with peppercorn sauce, which sit alongside creative spins like a land and sea combo featuring mussels in a blue cheese sauce – a loving nod to Les Enfants du Marché where Monsod once staged in Paris, according to the chef's statement to Eater San Diego. Her time in Paris has allowed her to borrow more than just inspiration but specific culinary hits to include on her Le Coq menu.

Monsod's ability to fuse Asian flair with other cuisines is apparent in dishes like the duck l’orange with kumquat marmalade, tamarind puree, and chicory, showing up in, subtle gestures that underscore her distinctive approach to flavor. Le Coq showcases locally sourced provisions, featuring meats like pasture-raised pork from Ramona’s Thompson Heritage Ranch and poultry from Land & Feast in Valley Center when available. Diners favor instance, a brined, air-dried, and roasted half-chicken is presented in a format that includes its foot – a quirky yet honest tribute to its source.

After the restaurant's opening, Monsod plans to balance her time between Le Coq and Animae, where she has constructed robust teams including professionals she's worked with since her early Ten Greens days. Le Coq, at 7837 Herschel Avenue in La Jolla, extends its welcome with dinner hours from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. Sunday through Thursday, and 5 p.m. to 10 p.m. on Friday and Saturday. Bar hours were extended a little later, closing at midnight from Sunday to Thursday and at 1 a.m. on the weekends. Further details about the opening and reservations can be sought on their Instagram page, as noted by The San Diego Union-Tribune.