Le Cocq: Frédéric Nicolay strikes again

© Saskia Vanderstichele
| Horeca visionary Frédéric Nicolay’s latest offering functions as a cafe-chip-shop-­laundro­mat.

Cafe, chip-shop, and laundromat… Le Cocq can do everything. A bruised and battered Frédéric Nicolay makes a triumphant return with a delightful and highly versatile eatery.

Customers of the brand new Le Cocq place and collect their orders through a sash window. The sliding mechanism resembles a guillotine – an apt metaphor at a time when a blade hangs over hotels, cafes, and restaurants. Frédéric Nicolay, who represents the sector better than anyone in Brussels, knows a thing or two about that. Kumiko, Robinet, and Potemkine, which shows no signs of rising from its ashes: the venue creator has been hit hard by the pandemic. Because we are loyal customers of his, we can confirm that Nicolay is a new man, more mindful of what is happening around him.

That new attitude shines through in Le Cocq. The place exudes a desire to please coupled with an evident fear of failure. Rather than presenting a radical concept, as he did before, the visionary has taken care to ensure that he plays all his trump cards. That much is clear if you take a moment to appreciate the decor, which, due to the pandemic, can unfortunately only be viewed from the exterior. An old-fashioned pewter counter from the Nectoux studios, extravagant light fittings, a ceramic wood-burning stove that appears to be an antique, a gilded ceiling, tables with a chess board pattern burned into them, cladding made of reclaimed pyramid-shaped wooden tiles from Jester… Bursting with architectural references, this place already has the makings of a classic.

The same is true of the cafe-chip-shop-laundromat formula itself (though the latter is not yet physically connected to the rest of the building), which perhaps arose from a desire to be more in touch with people's lives. The menu is equally appealing. Nothing has been left to chance: burgers (€9 to €10), croquettes (€4.50 to €7.50), chicken wings (€5.50), and pistolets (€5.50) made with bread from the Renard Bakery. The fries (€3), in particular, are excellent, handmade from A to Z. They also have natural wines and cured meats supplied by Tortue, speciality coffees from Café Capitale (€1 to €3.50), and outstanding plant-based cakes from Cokoa (€4 a portion). Such a selection could only be put together by a keen observer of the Brussels food scene.

place Fernand Cocqplein 12, Elsene/Ixelles, Instagram: @lecocq_bruxelles
7/7, 7.30 > 21.30

Brussels in your mailbox?