Breakfast is a meal we often take for granted. If you’re anything like me, you tend to not make a big deal out of it – grabbing some fruit on your way out to work, fixing yourself a little sandwich and indulging in a manousheh on the weekends. But sometimes, when you take a minute for yourself to enjoy the free time you’ve been given, it could be a bit more of an indulgence.
Indulgence for breakfast is key at Coucou, a relatively new breakfast concept that had opened earlier this year. Brought to you by the creative genius of Fatima Razzouqi, whose time spent in France gave her an appreciation for elevated bistro food – especially that of the brunch variety. Partnered with the founders of Ora and JOA, Coucou – a charming endearment for “hello” in the French language was born to redefine the way people see breakfast in Kuwait.
Redefined indeed, right down to the décor! Everything in the breakfast-focused café exudes chicness, guaranteeing you an unforgettable experience. Set up in a layout that reminded me of miclassic, slightly upscale diners in urban European and North American cities where the smoked salmon is cold and the pancakes are steamy. Elongated and pristine, with lush accents of greenery peeking throughout, interesting art, and jazzy music afloat, Coucou offers a cozy ambience that’s flooded with natural bright light with its wall to wall windows.
The menu, one-paged, is simple yet so imaginative that you wouldn’t even know where to begin. Luckily, we had some help with a friend of ours who was well acquainted with the concept. Divided into respective sections categorizing daytime favorites, our dishes were curated for us. Eggs: Classic Benedict (naturally), and Coucou’s rendition of a Croque Madame. Light Options: a cult classic, Avocado Toast – with a side of two poached eggs, please! Brunch Specials: Steak Frites, Short Rib Sliders and – get a load of this one – Truffle Rigatoni. What would rigatoni be doing in a brunch menu? We were about to find out.
The benedict arrived in a way that one would normally expect it to: fluffy and lovely, perched atop a nest of English muffin and generously slathered with hollandaise sauce. What gave Coucou’s benedict an elegant touch, however, was the use of single-stripped turkey bacon at the base of the poached egg. Upon tasting this, I’d have to confidently say that turkey bacon with eggs benedict might just be my new favorite thing – step aside, salmon!
The Croque Madame – all I can say is wow. Picture two beautifully thick slices of rustic bread sandwiching layers of béchamel and real turkey breast (i.e. unprocessed) with raclette cheese crusting the top of the concoction. Then, top it with a fried egg for an Instagrammable feast and a breakfast friendly feel. I liked the way the egg was incorporated, giving the diner an option to remove it if he or she would prefer. Personally, I thought the sandwich was the perfect dish to cut into even without the egg, but what do I know? Perfect for sharing, my companions ate heartily, egg and all, while I swooned over the crust, béchamel, raclette and turkey combo.
Next up, the Avocado Toast. This is something that I could see myself returning to Coucou for. Whenever avocado toast is on offer at an eatery, the bread vessel that houses the dish tends to be, for lack of a better term, epic. Homemade, thick sliced, that delicious version of brown or rye toast – it’s always perfect, and Coucou’s gluten-free multigrain loaf was no exception to the satisfying rule. To elevate it further, the smashed avocado mixture had a tangy zest to it that reflected upon the simple and colorful ingredients used to make this dish come alive. All that topped with a decorative sprig of baby edible flower for a hint of sass during your Saturday brunch makes for a happy meal.
In fact, though each dish that made its way to our table seemed almost better than the last, I clung to the Avocado Toast like a mother with her newborn child – and found a playmate to complement it with: Steak Frites. I’m going to be honest and say that the fries were nice. Matchstick isn’t my style, so I wasn’t overly enthused, but their seasoning and quality definitely didn’t go unnoticed.
However, all honorable mentions must go to the steak, which was secretly my winning dish in this whole experience. It was so simple yet elegant presentation, yet extremely effective, with each perfectly seared piece of meat crusted with a blend of spice (which let’s face it, is probably just Himalayan salt and black pepper) and a little pot of pepper sauce to enjoy it with. To quote myself as I was hogging the steak bits and leaving the fries for my friends to enjoy, I turned to them and said mid-chew “Guys, I could come back here and literally just eat the Avocado toast and the steak.”
It goes without saying that I had to be pulled away from the steak to sample other specials at the table, consisting of the Short Rib Sliders, and the mysterious Truffle Rigatoni. I was glad I did, because the sliders were absolutely lovely, with an egg patty over succulent pieces of sweet marinated short ribs, giving the sandwich a candied effect. If that’s your thing, go for it!
But what you should definitely try is the Rigatoni. Did it seem like an initial outlier on our breakfast table? I’m not going to lie – it was a weird thought to wrap my head around, especially with the egg placed on top. But, once the yolk was prodded with a fork, and the egg mixture disappeared into the plate of pasta, all of the dish’s ingredients started to reveal themselves on the palate. Crisp bacon. Creamy pasta. Spices. And of course, the aromatic, heavenly, buttery and smooth taste of truffle with parmesan cheese – a gorgeous combination that makes its way into fond memories of real-time food porn.
As usual, we were too full to have dessert. Just kidding! When have we ever said no to a little something sweet after a meal? Coucou’s “dessert” section, however, doubles as a mainstay for sweeter breakfast preferences. In short, yes, this is where the pancakes and French Toast dishes live. But these pancakes aren’t just any pancakes! At Coucou, pancakes are turned into festive, ornate cake-like concoctions of magic.
We selected a stack of buttermilk pancakes with white chocolate, rose and raspberry, and a plate of Pain Perdue: sugar-crusted French toast, salted caramel sauce, berries and cream. Needless to say, this was all meant to share, and share we did! Down to the last scraps of our offerings, we said au revoir to the charming Coucou, leaving with memories of the delicious experience, and the promise to return soon. If not for the snazzy pancakes, for that melt-in-your-mouth and cut-with-a-spoon steak.
Coucou is located in the Aqarat Building on Mubarak Al Kabeer street in Kuwait City. Follow them on Instagram @coucou.kw for more information.
Photos by bazaar staff and courtesy of Coucou. Featured image by bazaar staff.