LAReview

photo credit: Jessie Clapp

Coucou image
7.3

Coucou

FrenchAmerican

Venice

$$$$Perfect For:Drinking Good WineDate Night

Included In

You might've met Coucou in its previous life as Chez Tex, a barebones wine bar that served simple classics like roast chicken and a solid cheeseburger. Under its new name, this Venice spot hasn't changed much. It's owned by the same people, the exposed brick remains intact, and the warm staff turns the sparse room into a lively, rosé-guzzling scene on Main Street. The ambiance (and great drinks) makes it a buzzy dinner option for when being "out and about" is the night's top priority—except the food here is pretty solid, too. 

Coucou image

photo credit: Jessie Clapp

Coucou image

photo credit: Jessie Clapp

Coucou image

photo credit: Jessie Clapp

Coucou image

photo credit: Jessie Clapp

Coucou image

photo credit: Jessie Clapp

Coucou image
Coucou image
Coucou image
Coucou image
Coucou image

There's been a big shift in this restaurant's personality, though: whereas Chez Tex was vaguely French, Coucou fully leans in with a bistro-fied menu and art-covered walls that belong in a Parisian apartment. But much like a backpacker who spends a month in France and comes back pronouncing "croissant" with an accent, this restaurant can't shake its Americanisms.

The closest thing to traditional French cooking here is the steak frites, which is also the best thing. It comes beautifully pink in the center and with a rich black garlic jus you should soak up with your fries. The rest of the menu, however, resembles things you'd be served at a neighbor's Fourth of July BBQ if they'd been watching too much Julia Child. There's a hot dog with french onion marmalade, a burger with cornichons and cognac sauce, and a whipped cheese appetizer with Ritz crackers that tastes exactly like chive and onion schmear (not necessarily a bad thing). These riffs are fun and a large part of Coucou's charm, even if you probably won't be thinking about them the next day. And it doesn't help that most of them could use a pinch or two of salt, either.

Coucou sets up a handful of tables on the sidewalk, but to soak up this wine bar's bon vivant energy, you'll want to get a table inside (the bar is open for walk-ins, but plan to wait). Once you're in, whatever plans you had for a chilled Westside date night will get turned up a few notches with an electro-pop soundtrack, great martinis, and good-enough food.

Food Rundown

Coucou image

photo credit: Jessie Clapp

Fried Olives

If you listed off the qualities of a great bar snack, it would sound like this dish. There’s a nice salty bite from the olives, the fried batter is super light and crackly, and they give you a nice, funky preserved lemon aioli for dipping.
Coucou image

photo credit: Jessie Clapp

Zucchini Beignets

These fried balls are delicious, but so rich with goat cheese they’ll glue your tongue to the roof of your mouth (don’t try to have a conversation while eating them). The honey drizzled over the top and cured olive spread on the side make for a nice sweet-salty combo.
Coucou image

photo credit: Jessie Clapp

Whipped Farmers Cheese

Remember cream cheese balls with Ritz crackers? That's what this dish resembles. The whipped cheese has the same tang and consistency as Philadelphia spread, and the tiny pieces of torn smoked salmon on top don't add much. We had to order extra crackers because it's a lot of cream cheese, er, farmer's cheese, to get through.
Coucou image

photo credit: Jessie Clapp

L'Haute Dog

This hot dog sounds really sexy with its cheese fondue, spicy mustard, and french onion marmalade. Unfortunately, it's a bit of a catfish. The spicy mustard and pepperoncini are buried under lukewarm cheese, and you really only taste the sweet onions. And though the pork sausage has a nice snap, the charred bun is dry and crumbly.
Coucou image

photo credit: Jessie Clapp

Burger Americaine

For a burger loaded with rich, flavorful things like cognac sauce and caramelized onions, this one is surprisingly tame. Like the hot dog, the bun is a little dry and the wagyu patty isn't very juicy. But roll up your sleeves because this burger does have lots of drippy sauce.
Coucou image

photo credit: Jessie Clapp

Mussels Mariniere

This gorgeous bowl of mussels leaves much to be desired. The shellfish swim in a sweet but mostly bland turmeric and coconut broth, with a handful of lentils throw in for some reason.
Coucou image

photo credit: Jessie Clapp

Steak Frites

There's no wizardry behind this delicious steak frites: it's simply a nicely cooked hanger steak with housemade fries and a sweet-salty garlic jus to drench everything in. It's also easy to share.
Coucou image

photo credit: Jessie Clapp

The Perfect Martini

Perfection doesn't exist, but this martini is close to it. It's crisp, a little lemon-y from the twist, and doesn’t go overboard on the vermouth. We ordered a second round.
Coucou image

photo credit: Jessie Clapp

Soft Serve

We appreciate that this dessert is as straightforward as it gets: silky vanilla soft, a side of peanuts, minced luxardo cherries, and a chocolate shell that's so satisfying to shatter with your spoon.

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FOOD RUNDOWN

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