REVIEW: Revolution never before tasted this good as Coup d’état claims a corner of Uptown.
When Figlio opened in Calhoun Square in 1984, it instantly set Uptown’s dining-out agenda.
Fast-forward 30 years for some serious restaurant déjà vu, because it feels as if Coup d’état is on the verge of pulling a Figlio and becoming the neighborhood’s latest “it” spot.
And why not? The cavernous two-story restaurant and bar is the work of the same synergistic team behind Borough and Parlour, the one-two punch that set off culinary fireworks in the North Loop when it opened 15 months ago.
And what a team: co-chefs Tyler Shipton and Nick O’Leary, barkeep Jesse Held and money guys Brent Frederick and Jacob Toledo. Even the same Minneapolis architectural firm, ESG, is on board.
Not that the restaurant is a Borough carbon copy. Far from it. The cooking at Coup d’état isn’t nearly as food-forward as its downtown counterpart, although it’s not trying to be, either.
But by taking a more thoughtful approach to what is essentially bar food, much of what Coup d’état accomplishes is often delightful, and occasionally remarkable.
Actually, to label it bar food is something of a misnomer, because O’Leary and Shipton manage to transcend the implication of dreary predictability that’s wrapped in that appellation.
In the shared-plates department, silky raw tuna and blood orange segments, radiating the same deep ruby tones, are a memorable and visually striking play of cool on cool. Delightfully creamy stuffed eggs are topped with tiny coral-tinted trout roe.
A crispy-edged slab of pork belly shimmers with fatty goodness and exudes a deep Sunday ham flavor. Mellow duck confit is the surprise inside delicate, deep-fried risotto orbs.
Shipton and O’Leary nudge diners down rarely traveled — for Uptown, anyway — territory. East Coast oysters are pulled off the grill at the exact moment where they achieve maximum ocean-fresh brininess.
In a nod to his Wisconsin roots — and a hat tip to chicken wings without serving chicken wings — O’Leary brines freakishly meaty frog legs, then deep-fries them to a tempura-like crispness, glazing them with a feisty harissa-cardamom sauce. Fabulous.
The menu isn’t exactly a sandwich-free zone — hurrah — but it’s close.
Instead, there’s bone marrow, so unabashedly smoky and spreading like jam across thin slices of grilled baguette.
Even better is the kitchen’s best dish, an approachable riff on a Borough top performer. The star ingredient is octopus, which clocks considerable low-temperature cooking time to achieve maximum tenderness.
From there, it’s browned on the stove, then tossed in a red chile-citrus vinaigrette and laid out over grilled bread swiped with yogurt. They’ll never be able to take it off the menu.
Pasta and pizza
At the menu’s heart are a handful of lovingly rendered pastas. The last gasps of winter seem to dissipate with each bite of oblong agnolotti, filled with creamy mascarpone and winter squash and finished with crispy sage leaves and divinely rich brown butter, an evergreen combination.
Gloriously spicy pork-beef meatballs are paired with ropy spaghetti. Pappardelle tossed with mushrooms and pancetta comes off as a comfort-minded stroganoff.