Culinary ambition on a grand scale challenges Uptown’s status quo
Compared to its sister restaurant, Borough in the North Loop, the menu at Coup d’État doesn’t seem radical. Despite its French name, the culinary influence at the new Uptown eatery skews more Italian, and its lineup of pizzas and pastas lacks Borough’s avant-garde zest. Where are the pairings of foie gras and ice cream or champagne potato-chip soup? Relative to Borough’s braised octopus, spiked with curry and fermented black bean, Coup d’État’s version, on bruschetta with yogurt and harissa, feels reserved. Still: It is octopus. In Uptown. A neighborhood that hasn’t seen cuisine this edgy since Chino Latino plated guinea pig. Coup d’État is feeding the neighborhood’s appetite for ambitious cuisine, which is presumably growing as fast as its crop of new luxury apartment buildings, like the one the restaurant is tucked inside. Its sprawling, two-level space features an ample central bar and kitchen theatrics displayed under a proscenium arch of white subway tile; the best seats line the mezzanine, illuminated by the Lagoon Cinema marquee.
Unlike its neighbors Bar Abilene and Drink, Coup d’État cultivates a fun atmosphere that’s still respectable enough to attract hizzoner R.T. Rybak on a post-mayoral wind-down. While the restaurant serves terrific osso buco, squash-filled agnolotti, and Arctic char with crisp-seared skin, its more distinguishing factor may be its spot-on service. Staffers describe dishes in detail and bring fresh utensils with each course, which makes each diner feel important in spite of the crowds. Coup d’État’s cocktail menu, a truncated variant of Parlour’s, shows the same creative spark by pairing ginger’s bite with sarsaparilla bark. “I tell people, ‘If you don’t like it, I’ll get you something else,” our hospitable barkeep explained. In Uptown, that felt revolutionary.