I’m sure you’re wondering what KooZeeDoo is. It sort of sounds like something you would expect to see on an infomercial…“when all of the other cleaning products don’t…KooZeeDoo!”… or something like that. In fact, KooZeeDoo is the name of a new Portuguese restaurant in the Northern Liberties neighborhood of Philly that has been receiving rave reviews…and rightly so. The name is strange, I know, but the website offers an explanation:
COZIDO [koo zee doo] adj. cooked
I like it. Actually, I like just about everything about this place.
The hubby and I were lucky enough to get a table at KooZeeDoo last weekend. At the risk of sounding like a broken record, Nick and I live to try new things. On our way to dinner that night we thought back at all of our culinary adventures and realized that we haven’t had much contact with Portuguese food, but that was all about to change. After being seated we were given a run down of the restaurant’s philosophy, “We are sort of like the anti-tapas”, the waiter said. My husband smiled and said, “I like it already”. The waiter recommended we order a few small plates to share and then only one entree for the two of us, as they were mammoth (and he wasn’t kidding). After perusing the menu we opted for the tasting menu (as we almost always do when one is offered). The tasting was $75 per couple and it consisted of the usual 5 courses…all of which were entirely UNusual in the most wonderful way.
We began with a Lamb Consomme. To the naked eye this bowl of crystal clear broth with specks of radish floating about may seem boring at best. But making a good consomme is art. It takes a lot of work to make a clear broth packed (and I mean packed) with flavor (I won’t get into it but you have to strain it and use egg whites to grab the large particles…yadda yadda…not an easy task). This was the best consomme I’ve ever had. A wonderful start to the meal. I will say, however, that they did make us share a bowl, which I found somewhat difficult. We had to hover over this communal bowl slurping up the goodness. Not a deal-breaker as I understand they serve everything family style, but I wish they had given us two small bowls. (p.s. I didn’t take a picture because, like I said, it was a bowl of clear broth)
Then came the oysters. Ahhhh, my mouth is watering just thinking about these oysters. They were wrapped in a thin layer of cabbage and presented atop the most deliciously complex broth. No lie…when the waiter came around to take the plate I shamefully asked him to leave it so I could soak up every last bit of that sauce/broth with my bread (delicious bread by the way…two baskets flew off our table in record time). He laughed and obliged, but honestly, he would have had to pry that bowl out of my cold dead hands had he not left it. The oyster was cooked perfectly…that is to say, JUST cooked through. The idea of wrapping it in cabbage was a genius one. It added little to no flavor, but it gave so much texture to the oyster that it took on a whole new personality. The broth was rich in seafood flavor but also in SO many other flavors. I tried and tried but couldn’t put my finger on them all. The thing that amazed me the most was the fact that even though my taste buds were experiencing all of these out-of-this-world flavors, the oyster still stood out as the main event. This chef is a magician.
Third came the quail. Two of them were served dog piled on top of each other. The waiter said they were Piri Piri quail. I had no idea what he was talking about until I sunk my teeth into that little guy. Piri Piri was apparently a hot sauce. And an almost perfect hot sauce, in my mind. This is one of the joys of trying new things…finding your new FAVORITE condiment or protein or veggie, etc. I have no idea if I can find Piri Piri in Philly (I googled the heck out of it), but I found some online and I must have it. The spice of the sauce combined with the char on the quail resulted in a grilled masterpiece.
The fourth course was the “entree”. It was a lamb shoulder, slow braised and served with sweet potatoes and almonds. It sounds simple right? Wrong. Once again something so simple was SO complex. The lamb was perfect, fall of the bone tender. And next time I cook a lamb shank I will certainly be serving it with sweet potatoes and almonds. I’ll never get the sauce down but if I can get even close to the flavor profile the chef created in this dish I’ll have won…sweet, smoky, creamy yet robust. Heck yes folks…yummy in my tummy.
For dessert they offered a banana dish. It was a banana, sitting atop a chocolate concoction, sitting atop a vanilla wafer, all sitting amidst a layer of passion fruit sauce. The hubby wasn’t as impressed as I was with the dessert. He liked it, but I loved that sauce SO very much that I had to give the dish two thumbs up. Once more, I have no idea how they made such a simple thing so delicious, but I guess that’s why they own a restaurant and I just eat there.
When the meal was finished we put our hands on our bellies and let out a sigh of content. Not only did we experience a new cuisine, with new flavor profiles and new cooking techniques, but we also discovered new ingredients that we will surely seek out and use in our everyday cooking. Of course our cooking won’t compare to that of KooZeeDoo. I don’t often say that a chef is a true artist, but this chef prepared a masterpiece for us that evening. So like I always say, get out there and try something new…and if I were you…I would try KooZeeDoo.
614 N. 2nd Street