For New Yorkers who’ve heard of Marfa, the restaurant Cochineal probably ranks just behind Chinati/Donald Judd as one of the town’s highlights.
Started by Tom Rapp and Toshifumi Sakihara of NYC’s Etats-Unis, it’s mentioned in just about every magazine article on Marfa, in the Times, on Chowhound.com, etc. as the best place to eat in town. In West Texas. In all of Texas. You get the idea.
I’ve waiting till after my trip to Big Bend (apparently a culinary wasteland – suggestions welcome) to go for dinner, but was very excited to find out from Dennis Dickerson, owner of the fantasic Exhibitions 2d Gallery (one of my favorite spaces in Marfa), that they also serve breakfast. Sometimes.
This being Marfa (watch for my upcoming post on “Marfa Time”), breakfast is served Thursday through Sunday. Except yesterday when it wasn’t.
I’d been warned that service at breakfast can be slow, so I was both pleased and a little concerned that I was the first person there at 9:25. I felt sort of badly about making them fire up the stove for one customer and actually asked if I should come back. They welcomed me in. Mind you, in New York I would never eat in an empty restaurant. But I’ve learned in Marfa that when something is open, you go in.
The place is really pretty – courtyard out front and spare yet chic decor inside (is that Judd Red on the zig-zag wall decorations?). Loved seeing a little bit of Manhattan in Marfa.
And then, one of those quirky Marfan interactions:
Me: “This space is gorgeous.”
Waiter: “I know.”
I practically burst out laughing.
But I had to get to the serious business of chosing my breakfast. I was surpised at how extensive the menu was. Pancakes were tempting (they had sour cream or some other delicious superflous addition). Or should I try the Mexican dishes? Go for healthy with oatmeal or Greek yogurt and fruit or oatmeal? But Texas is the South, sort of, and as you know from the title of this post, I could not resist the biscuits and gravy.
And, if you go, you shouldn’t either.
Even before I took a bite, I loved how the gravy came in its own container. Broke open one of those crumbly baking soda biscuits and knew it was going to be good. It was so delicate it could barely support the gravy. Fortunately the gravy, while incredibly rich and tasty, was as light as mousse.
When I overhead a woman another table deciding whether to order the B&G, I couldn’t help but encourage her. When she tasted hers, she exclaimed, “It’s just as light as a feather.” One of her companions said, “It’s like eating air.”
As the place began to fill up, everyone seemed to be making dinner reservations – for the very same night.
Can’t wait to go back for the rest of the menu.