I walked in the door at Coquette across the black and white checkered tiles, through a dining room that can only be described as Parisian – a description only those who’ve walked those city streets can understand – threw my jacket on the back of the leather-covered highchair and stood at the opened bay windows bordered by flowering plants.
I turned to my girls, and said, “Welcome to France. This will be your reality in just a couple of months.”
Coquette: A Taste of French Sophistication in Raleigh
We jumped at the chance to have lunch with our daughters as guests of the restaurant during their spring break at Coquette Brasserie in North Hills.
Having dined there before on a lunch date, Craig and I knew it was an exceptional dining experience in Raleigh that transforms you to the Left Bank in Paris. But this time we wanted to inspire our kids for our upcoming trip to Europe in the summer – first stop Paris.
With the growing diversity of its global cuisines, Raleigh gives plenty of opportunities to bring the destination to you!
We’re all tempted and persuaded by food, and one crunch of a macaroon or profiterole dripping in chocolate will inspire your children to get excited for far-flung adventures. We elevated this family dining experience at Coquette from a good munch out to a cultural education.
Throughout the meal, we spoke about the difference between brasserie and bistro, all of which we learned on our lunch visit while madly googling for clarification (see our findings in the FAQ’s down below).
We spoke about French eating customs – a slice of bread with jam and coffee for breakfast, or of course, a croissant; a much larger meal for lunch – the lingering kind with a glass of wine (not for the kids of course), an aperitivo in the evening, followed by a lighter evening meal.
The afternoon snack usually consists of a crepe – savory or sweet – which Savannah promised to religiously follow each day in Paris.
And we practiced a few French words, spoke about experiences we wanted to savor in Paris, and of course, what foods we could not wait to try. We put it all to the test with a long lingering lunch at Coquette Raleigh – the French way.
Let us share why Coquette Brasserie is one of our favorite restaurants in North Hills, Raleigh.
The Coquette Brasserie ambiance
As mentioned, Coquette has a sophisticated and authentic French brasserie feel. A stylish and inviting long bar sits at the entrance area with a large French flag draped out over the back bar.
On either side are marble-topped tables of all styles – high tops, red-leather booths and banquettes, petite curving tables and chairs. Fabric-covered ceilings look over the white and black tiled floor, all of it oozing French sophistication.
The ideal spot are the two-person tables tucked into the large French doors that open to bustling sidewalks.
If you’re dining at this Raleigh restaurant on a date, you will be happy not just with its romantic ambiance, but that Coquette in French means flirtatious woman. You have permission.
Let’s talk about the French food
The food in a word – Délicieux! That’s French for delicious. And you’re in Paris, so I suggest you order more than one course. This is the kind of restaurant where FOMO is real.
On the menu you’ll find many of your French brasserie favorites: steak pomme frites, mussel frites, Quiches, croque monsieur and madame, French onion soup, and Escargot. The dinner menu will invite Coq Au Vin and Cassoulet to the table.
You can make your decision the French way – over bread that servers will bring to your table upon seating. Anyone who has been to France, or a country it had its colonizing hand in, will understand how good a piece of bread can taste.
And if you need longer, then choose a drink from their extensive, mostly all French, wine list – make it a French one – or a classic French cocktail made from scratch at the bar.
One look at bartender Ashton mixing and shaking our Espresso Martini lets you know he’s a master of the craft. With its unique and creamy addition of Bailey’s and Frangelico, it was definitely one of the best ones I’ve had in Raleigh.
The menu is split into the various French course servings which you can choose from: Les Hors D’oeuvres, Les Salades, Les Soups, Les Crepes, Les Sandwiches, Les Ouefs, Les Frites and Les Petit Plats.
This time for our appetizers (Les Hors D’oeuvres, Les Soups) we chose one of my favorite dishes, fried brussel sprouts, made even tastier by the French version topped with bacon lardons, pearl onions, orange sherry vinaigrette, crème fraîche (gluten free).
Craig ordered a bowl of the French onion soup dripping with melted gruyère.
Previously at Coquette, we have enjoyed escargots (French for snails) cooked in garlic herb butter with roasted mushrooms. When in Paris…
And the most heavenly charcuterie board with cheese, meat, pickles, and toast. The charcuterie board pairs nicely with a Kiss Francais Cocktail: vodka, raspberry liqueur, pineapple juice, champagne.
For mains, we opted for the Les Petit Plats choosing the rich and hearty, melt-in-your-mouth Boeuf Bourguignon with bacon, mushrooms, onions, carrots, pomme purée, and the light Kvaroy Salmon with pan roasted vegetables and roasted tomato butter.
We didn’t have the seafood crepe on this visit, but we have before, and as one of the most popular, and delicious, meals on the menu, don’t skim your eyes over it too quickly.
Our normal chicken nuggets eater Savannah, intoxicated by the Parisian vibes, risked it all with her poulet grille selection from the children’s menu. Simply grilled chicken breast with strict instructions for the pomme puree (mashed potato) to be served on a separate plate!
Kalyra decided to enjoy a fresh and sweet shrimp cocktail appetizer and then skip straight to le dessert.
Most diners can’t go past ending their meal with chocolate profiteroles filled with ice cream and paired with a jug of chocolate sauce you can pour over yourself. It was one of those rare moments a tear shed from my eye with regret that I am (forced) gluten free.
But never fear, there’s vanilla bean creme brulee for eaters like me, which has been my favorite dessert by default since my life changing diagnosis! It was creamy, rich, and perfectly caramelized on top.
This is the course where Savannah shone most. A plate of four macarons of assorted flavors, and with the server’s gentle persuasion, decided to taste the green matcha flavor, and loved it. Needless to say, dining here is one of our favorite things to do in North Hills with kids.
Don’t worry if you’re struggling to find room for dessert. On the Coquette Raleigh menu, like their sister venue, Vivace have dessert minis which range from red velvet cheesecake to chocolate espresso pot de creme.
If you like more traditional service with waiters buttoned up in suave black uniforms, you will love Coquette Brasserie.
Our server was helpful with suggestions on signature dishes, but also his favorites. Service was prompt, efficient, and friendly and both occasions we have dined here. Both times we had different servers.
Coquette in Raleigh is the type of restaurant that can be for a special romantic occasion, to celebrate with friends, or inspire that dream family trip to Paris. It’s also one of our favorite brunch spots in Raleigh.
It was a great starting point to prepare us for the soon-to-be cultural immersion into the Parisian way of life. We’ve actually now decided to end our 4-week summer Europe trip with three days in the Loire Valley of France exploring the chateaux (including staying in one) and vineyards and enjoying more of the French style of living.
Overall, Coquette Brasserie is an amazing restaurant that deserves all the love it gets. There are reasons why it’s won several Best of the Triangle awards.
The food is deilcioux, the ambiance is charming and romantic, and the staff is top-notch. If you’re looking for a French restaurant in Raleigh that will transport you to Paris, look no further than Coquette Brasserie in Raleigh.
Coquette Brasserie offers lunch, dinner, and Sunday Brunch – which is high on our list to try!
- Lunch: Mon-Sat | 11am-4pm
- Sun-Wed | 4pm-9pm
- Thurs-Sat | 4pm-10pm
- Sunday Brunch | 10am-3pm
- Website: CoquetteRaleigh.com
Frequently Asked Questions to help you:
Is there parking at Coquette in North Hills?
Yes. There is a convenient parking lot steps away from Coquette’s front door. If this parking lot is full, the underground parking lot near Target typically has plenty of space. It’s only a short walk to the restaurant.
Does Coquette get busy? Do you need to book?
Coquette’s is busy on weekends and evenings. Lunch during the week will be the quietest time, with the possibility of walking to a table. Be sure to reserve in advance to ensure a table during busy times.
What is the dress code for Coquette Raleigh?
It’s genuinely like you’ll be dining in Paris so why not dress up a little in style to make the experience that much better. Having said that, you’re still in Raleigh, and casual is how we like to do things.
There is no dress code. City casual will suit perfectly as will high-end fashion. You decide and you’ll feel perfectly at home either way.
Who owns Coquette Raleigh?
Coquette is owned by Stacey and Kevin Jennings of the Urban Food Group. They have had a lengthy career working in the restaurant and hospitality industry in the Southeast. This was the second restaurant in the North Hills district; their first another family favorite: Italian restaurant Vivace (we are also going to Italy on our Europe trip!)
What is the difference between a brasserie and a bistro?
Important to note, even though commonly heard in our English language and restaurant world, these two terms are French in origin – as is cafe.
Brassiere comes from the word “brewerie” and so traditionally it was a place where they brewed beer. Some have kept this tradition, but mostly the focus is on wine instead of beer. Like bistros, brassieres specialize in classic French favorites, but they have a much larger set menu and are typically large rooms that are lively and noisy.
A bistro is a casual, unpretentious neighborhood place to drink and eat traditional, much-loved French dishes at affordable prices. Think simple, rustic and homestyle. Bistros are small, intimate, and low-key.
And for good measure, a cafe is where you go to hang out and grab a drink (coffee or alcoholic drink) and maybe eat something light, simple and casual like a sandwich or salad. Cafes are popular for aperitifs before dinner.
Comment: Have you been to Coquette Brassiere in North Hills? Any favorite dishes to try next? What restaurant in Raleigh should we review next?