I wanted to label Le Cochon Noir as a diamond in the rough. The Philadelphia Business and Technology Center is not just an unassuming location, it’s practically out of the city limits (okay, maybe not, but how often do you find yourself at 50th and Parkside?). Inside, the space has a warehouse feel: exposed pipes, a completely open kitchen, and a floor that has paint stains from the last few incarnations of the building.
The protein heavy menu focuses more on comfort food favorites rather than innovative options. I expected no frills quality – especially considering the menus boasted 1st place award-winning sauce. The sauce, sweeter and more complex than traditional barbeque sauce, lived up to my expectations. Everything else did not. The side dishes (entrees are a la carte and come with nothing but a lemon slice on the place unless extras are ordered specifically) are passable renditions of Southern standards. The Sautéed Garlic Mustard Greens ($8) are bitter and slimy – just like they’re supposed to be. The Sautéed Porcini Mushrooms and Vidalia Onions ($6) are just that. The Mac and Cheese ($8) is the only thing on the table we ate all of, but nothing I couldn’t make at home.
The entrees were barely worth eating. The Char-Grilled French Cut Kurobuta Chop ($29) is introduced on the menu with a paragraph long description filled with phrases like “the Kobe beef of pork” and “regal delicacy” but ended up being just an over-cooked pork chop that was flavorless without the BBQ sauce. The Grilled Swordfish with Rosemary White Wine Sauce ($26) was even more offensively over-cooked, although a better vehicle for the creamy, savory white wine sauce would have made for an all star dish. Since it’s conception as an outdoor barbeque venue, chef Daniel Rosen has touted ribs as his specialty. Although they didn’t distract from the tangy sauce, the Le Cochon Noir Signature Dry Rub Ribs ($20 for a half rack) were not fall-off-the-bone tender and the dry rub was barely noticeable. The desserts (caramel bread pudding and chocolate soufflé) were better, but did little to redeem the dinner.
In its defense, the restaurant is stil working out some kinks, and still waiting on their liquor license. Although the quartet started nearly an hour after scheduled, the music enthusiast in my party deemed it well worth the wait. Don’t write this place off completely though, it might yet become a hotspot for drinks and jazz, once the bar is stocked.