Nestled a block east of the Third Ward’s bustling Broadway sits Coquette Café (316 N. Milwaukee St.). Founded by venerable Milwaukee restaurateurs Sanford and Angie D’Amato before changing hands to its current owners, Coquette gave me high hopes for a Downtown Dining Week meal to remember. As I entered the rustic-yet-modern dining room, I felt confident in my choice — the French bistro’s alluring atmosphere seemed the perfect respite for this busy workweek diner.
Expansive windows flooded the dining room with light as dulcet music intermingled with diners’ chatter. A wisely made reservation secured us seating overlooking Milwaukee Street.
After indulging in the restaurant’s serene atmosphere, I turned my attention to the restaurant’s prix fixe menu. For $12.50, diners can enjoy three courses (starter, entrée and dessert). To start, I selected the Potage Parmentier, a leek and potato soup topped with a flourish of tarragon oil. My dining partner enjoyed the Field Greens Salad, a crisp mix of greens and light Dijon vinaigrette. Both had us excited for the dishes to come.
Shortly after finishing our starters, we dug into our entrées. The savory Croque Monsieur paired with frites brought to mind classic French country cooking. The addition of a tangy dipping sauce made the frites a meal standout for me. The Roasted Beet Salade, a fresh bed of baby arugula topped with beets, feta, spiced hazelnuts and zesty orange-garlic vinaigrette, made for a lighter second course. The beets gave a substantial quality to an otherwise light dish.
We finished our meals by indulging in dessert — the Chocolate Mousse for me and the Oeufs a La Neige for my companion. While I thoroughly enjoyed the mousse, it was the pillowy meringue “oeufs” covered with a rich caramel sauce had me coming back for a second bite.
The charming atmosphere coupled with a satisfying meal left us with smiles on our faces. This bistro offers a relaxing reprieve from life’s daily deluge — even if just for the lunch hour.