I used to get the image of stuffy Maître D’s in tailed tuxedos with nasally French accents when I thought of fine French restaurants, but that simply isn’t the case at Coup des Tartes in Phoenix. It’s sill fine dining, but it’s done in an approachable fashion. Owner, Ron Pacinoni flutters around the restaurant with a friendly smile, not an upturned nose, making sure diners are having a great time as they nosh on French specialties such as escargot.
I had my first taste of escargot at Coup des Tartes and now the bar is set. I will admit, I was skittish at first but it was delicious – swimming in a confit garlic herb butter, kissed with lemon; the texture of the snails was tender and meaty. There is no need to be skittish when first-timers are diving into a dish like this, and escargot lovers will agree it’s some of the best around.
At a recent media dinner I had the opportunity to sample several other menu items. In addition to the snails, our appetizer course included Chèvre Tomate Bruschetta and Brie Brûlée. The bruschetta was perfection, with the right amount of tangy got cheese balanced perfectly with sweet tomatoes. The Brie Brûlée was classically French with a wedge of soft creamy brie, served alongside fresh seasonal fruit and toasts and topped with crisp apple slices that were sprinkled with surge and torched giving the dish it’s namesake brûlée’d coating.
The evening moved along with the next course which was a shockingly delicious Curry Risotto with charred pineapple and coconut. The ingredient combination sounded pretty unique to me and it was! I have never had a risotto like this but certainly hope to again! The tropical fruit notes gave the creamy, expertly cooked risotto texture and a vague sweetness that married wonderfully with the more dominant curry notes, and like every good risotto, there was cheese! Delicious. Pacioni told us his chef is an expert when it comes to risotto so if it’s on the menu, you should definitely order it!
We also enjoyed a delicious Salmon entree with perfectly cooked, flaky fish on a bed of Israeli couscous, sautéed spinach and a garlicky cilantro butter sauce. It was delicious and surprisingly light and bright with the cilantro addition to the better sauce. The Coupe des Tartes take on surf & turf is a winner, filet mignon topped with crab stiffed shrimp. The filet was so tender it needed just a little prodding with a fork and was expertly seasoned a cooked to a juicy medium rare. The crab stuffed shrimp were plump and delicious. The whole dish was finished with a rich and velvety merlot reduction, fluffy mashed potatoes and crisp hericot vests. This entree was fine dining at its French best.
Desserts will delight and you will definitely want to order the classic French favorite – creme brûlée. There is something so satisfying about breaking into a perfectly torched crispy sugar barrier to get to the silky custard below. Coupe des Tartes delivers a version that stays true to the original and it is perfect. Other desserts include a raspberry butter cake, triple chocolate mousse cake, white chocolate lime tart, and more! Your sweet tooth will be satiated!
Coup des Tartes offers occasional Murder Mystery dinner shows with a prix fixe menu and at the holidays little girls will delight in a glamorous tea party complete with a visit from a fairytale princess. Coup des Tartes is pleasing palates with approachable French food in a relaxed, yet up-scale atmosphere. The teeny, cozy bar offers wines, inspired cocktails and great conversation with other patrons and the staff. The dining rooms are quaint, yet classy and the entire place has a vibe rich in history.
Coupe des Tartes is located at 1725 E. Osborn Rd. in central Phoenix.
Disclaimer: I was invited to a media dinner at Coupe des Tartes free of charge to help facilitate this write-up, however all opinions stated in this post are entirely my own.