Monday, May 23, 2011

Cous Cous, Richmond, VA

Cous Cous exterior doors
My friend and I had tickets to the Sleigh Bells/CSS show at The National in Richmond and decided this was a great opportunity to eat somewhere new. I pulled up a few Richmond restaurants that I had read about and we settled on Cous Cous after we saw they had a coupon. It never hurts to get a deal, especially with a new place. We arrived around 8:45pm and took a seat at the bar since we were on a tight time schedule and were later than intended. The bar tender was friendly and had a good wit about him. Charlotte* ordered a Lemon Cooler beverage ($10) and I, being the driver, stuck with tea. She said her drink was refreshing with a kick. We perused the menu and decided to order a bunch of appetizers (mezze) because so many sounded delicious. Here is a rundown of what we had: the Manchego Fritters (5 fritters for $8) were probably one of my favorites. I love this Spanish cheese and having it fried was pretty amazing along with the mango coulis. The sauces at Cous Cous made the dishes. The Sweet Corn Fritters (a good size bowl for $6) with chipotle creme fraiche were also tasty and this appetizer was plentiful. Guess they have not received the memo that corn is not a deal anymore and creme fraiche always makes me think of the South Park episode about Stan’s dad and cooking shows. Next, we Fried Spinach and Mushroom Arancini ($8) which was a new food to me. Risotto, spinach, mushrooms and parmesan risotto fried and served with a roasted red pepper and tomato coulis. The coulis is all over this menu. This appetizer was less rich than the first two, probably a good thing since we were on a roll with fried food.

Onto something different, we next had the Ricotta and Basil Gnocchi ($9) which Charlotte said was cooked a little too much and I agreed. This is a very rich dish Gorgonzola cream sauce so the pasta needed to remain more firm. The Curried Cauliflower ($7) with pine nuts and currents was a nice change from our rich choices. This was big with Charlotte, but she is not a huge curry fan, so do not let that deter you. I enjoyed it and had had something similar at Balliceaux not that long ago. It was also probably our healthiest choice! We liked the idea of the Crispy Eggplant ($7) with apricot marmalade & toasted almonds, but the marmalade was very, very sweet and we left a lot of that behind. A third of that would have been suffice for the dish. Our last selection was the Acorn Squash ($10) which was roasted and stuffed with cranberry and granny smith apple risotto. We like this a lot but had reached our breaking point and could not finish it. It was very different and I love how they mixed the risotto so many ways.

Cous Cous has a few larger plates, some of which can also be upgraded to entrees for an additional $8. would treat this restaurant as a a tapas spot. There are lots of very different things to try (it was pretty hard to narrow it down) and it is fun to share sometimes. Having the coupon lessened the blow of the bill, which still was not bad with all that we had - grand total before tip was $67. We did not make it to dessert because of time and being full but there are a few that sound pretty tasty, such as the Warm Chocolate Bread Pudding and the Panna Cotta. Next time!

I recommend a reservation if you want a table as the place was packed with a mostly hipster crowd even at 8:45pm. Dim, in red hues and stylish, Cous Cous is a restaurant which I will definitely visit again. Besides a good atmosphere and friendly staff, Cous Cous’ menu is so unique and we left a lot on the menu to sample. Cous Cous offers lunch and dinner Monday - Friday 11:30am-2am and dinner Saturday 5pm-2am. This would be a good locale for a late night snack after a show.

Cous Cous
900 W. Franklin Street
Richmond, VA 23220
(804) 358-0868
*Watch the online directions, Franklin is one of those streets that stops and starts again at least twice.

Cous Cous on Urbanspoon

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