French chefs arrive in River Oaks
Très chic River Oaks restaurant opens with French chef cred, stunning space, and must-see Mona Lisa
A stylish new restaurant debuts at the River Oaks Shopping Center this weekend. Cocody will open for lunch and dinner beginning Friday, December 1.
First announced this summer, Cocody unites three of the men behind Le Mistral, the Energy Corridor French restaurant that closed in 2019 after 18 years in business. They are chef Lionel Debon, chef David Denis, and David’s brother, front of house specialist Sylvain Denis. The Denis brothers also operate Bistro 555, the French restaurant on Memorial Drive that replaced neighborhood favorite Bistro Provence.
Before diving into the food, let’s consider the restaurant’s setting. The expansive restaurant — 7,000-square feet inside with a 2,000-square foot patio — has enough space for a main dining room, a separate bar area, a lounge, and a chefs’ tasting room with a view into the kitchen.
Owners Edith and Edwin Bosso hired Austin’s Winn Wittman Architects of Austin and local designer Nina Magon to bring the Art Deco-inspired design to life. Inspired by the center’s roots in the 1930s, the interior includes hundreds of crystal lights, a free-standing metal bar, and an updated take on the Mona Lisa that’s sure to be all over social media.
While some of the menu is undeniably French — more on that in a bit — chefs Debon and Denis are showing more Texas influences at Cocody than in their prior restaurant. At dinner, diners can opt for a Gulf Coast favorite like blackened snapper or the barbecue-inspired pulled pork tournedos that come with a “light smoky reduction.” Roasted Colorado lamb and two different beef tenderloin should also appeal to Texans who like a hearty meat entree with their meals.
Of course, those looking for French touches will find them throughout the menu. Consider entrees such as lobster risotto, roasted duck breast with celery root puree, and roasted chicken breast with basil ratatouille as three examples. The Sunday brunch menu includes classics such as Eggs Florentine and scrambled eggs served in their shells. Similarly, the wine list emphasizes selections from both France and California.
French-influenced restaurants have proven to be popular in the River Oaks area. Brasserie 19, arguably the city’s most successful French-inspired restaurant, is right across the street. Bludorn, which blends French and Gulf Coast influences, is only a couple of miles away. Annabelle Brasserie, the latest concept from B&B Butchers owner Ben Berg, just opened nearby in the Autry Park mixed-use development.
Then again, none of those restaurant have French chefs leading their kitchens. That, and Cocody’s high-style design, should entice diners to visit the newcomer.