JE NE SAIS ...WHA?
Veteran Houston French chefs are not opening a French restaurant in River Oaks
Three Frenchmen have teamed up to open a new restaurant in the River Oaks Shopping Center, but Cocody may not be quite what people are expecting.
Chef David Denis, his brother, front of house specialist Sylvain Denis, and chef Lionel Debon worked together at Le Mistral, the acclaimed French restaurant in the Energy Corridor that closed in 2019. More recently, the Denis brothers have been operating Bistro 555, the Memorial-area French restaurant. Their business partner, Edwin Bosso, grew up in French-speaking Ivory Coast before coming to Houston, where he attended Rice University and started a successful career as a consultant.
Those biographical details would seem to suggest that Cocody will also be a French restaurant, but that's not the case. Instead, the team is creating a restaurant that's merely "French-influenced," according to press materials.
“Cocody is French-influenced because its leadership came from France. The owners are originally from the French-speaking Ivory Coast. All three operating partners got their training and built their early careers in France, including at a number of Micehlin-star (sic) restaurants,” publicist Mark Hanna writes in email. “The menu, on the other hand, will be a variety of dishes they have created for Cocody which can't be so easily labeled. There will be a lot of influences from all over, including Houston and Texas.”
We'll have to wait a bit to learn more about the specific dishes that will be created by the blending of French training with Texas influences, as the menu is still under development.
Considering the neighborhood, not opening a French restaurant in that location seems wise. After all, Cocody will have to distinguish itself from Brasserie 19, the restaurant across the street from its location at 1971 West Gray that has been serving French-influenced dishes such as escargot and trout almondine to River Oaks diners for more than a decade.
Whatever food the chefs decide to serve, they will do so in an elegant dining room with an Art Deco-inspired decor that includes a free-standing metal bar, a chef’s tasting room, and illumination by hundreds of shimmering crystal lights. It will also be quite large — with a 7,000-square-foot interior and a 2,000-square-foot patio.
As for the rest, Houstonians will have to wait and see what kind of not-French food this team of French chefs comes up with.