When it comes to the art of baking, or should we say science, no one beats the French. French bakers are masters of creating soft pillowy wonders with just butter, water, and flour. Throw in sugar and eggs in the mix, and a whole new baking adventure awaits i.e. patisserie.
In an effort to introduce the wonders of a French patisserie to Mumbaikars, the Oberoi Group has opened the doors to Cou Cou. The French-style patisserie, located at Jio World Drive, is the iconic hotel group’s independent food and beverage outlet. Cou Cou, for those who are wondering, is an informal French greeting used in France which means anything from “hello, how are you”, to “welcome” or simply be used as an informal term of endearment.
The décor and ambience
You could very well be in a bistro anywhere on the French Riviera, all thanks to the use of salmon-pink hues and light oak walls, arched doorways, and customised cantilevered light fixtures. Varying scales of seating allow for larger groups to share tables and smaller groups to sit within banquettes. Potted plants provide definition and privacy within the patisserie and break the boundaries between the inside and outside spaces. The white hexagonal tiles fitted with teal sealant add to the rustic charm of Cou Cou. Bar stools and small banquettes are placed amid smartly-placed foliage that (almost) helps you forget that you are in the middle of a mall.
The expansive glass cases leave nothing to the imagination when it comes to what’s on offer at the eatery. This is a matter of great pride for the trio holding the fort at Cou Cou—Aakriti Rathore, the manager and in-charge of the front of the house affairs, and Chef Pierre Storti and Chef Pratik Deshmukh who run a tight and efficient ship in the kitchen. We asked the chefs about the challenges of replicating the French recipes in Mumbai. “The ingredients are locally sourced and while humidity in the city can be a challenge we have figured out solutions. Apart from that, the quality of ingredients speak volumes making the final product as good as it will be in Paris,” said Chef Storti. He also added that he is excited about adding more delicious French dishes on the menu as time goes by.
On one end of the space is the kitchen, where the two chefs ensure products are baked as per demand, ensuring nothing goes to waste and only the freshest baked delights reach you.
What worked for us
The culinary duo of Storti and Deshmukh are earnest in the belief that nothing but the best will work for Cou Cou—and we are happy to report they do deliver on the promise.
For a limited menu, it can still baffle you to make a choice here because each dish looks better than the other. So, with blinkers on our eyes, we honed in on the Lamb Pithivier. Apart from the exquisite browning of the exterior, thanks to a generous egg wash, the delicate scoring on the top was a big draw. Pithiviers are pies with filling, baked between two sheets of puff pastry, where the top is scored in circles, forming a gentle hump as it bakes. They can be savoury or sweet.
As for our savoury pithivier, the flakey puff pastry was a joy to bite into. The puff pastry reminded us of American chef Alice Waters statement, “Everything tastes better with butter.” The layers were crispy, yet stable enough to bring together the confit lamb that it enclosed. The lamb was delicately seasoned in the pie. The harmony between the two components of the pithivier was also very well balanced.
Out of habit, we ordered the Quiche Lorraine. We were told that this is Chef Storti’s family recipe and it shows. With no garnishes and external adornments, the quiche is presented bare—as if daring you to find a flaw with it. And we couldn’t! The shortcrust pastry, which is an Achilles heel for many, was perfectly baked—crumbly and crisp. The filling of eggs, cream, and bacon had an addition of onions that only added more texture. The Storti family matriarchs must indeed be proud of this adaptation in a country far, far away.
We also ordered the white asparagus, artichoke, and black truffle crepe— purely under the spell of the ingredients used that are confined to five-star kitchens. The crepe was delicate, making it the perfect foil for the tender yet well-cooked white asparagus it encased. The oil glazed artichoke came as a side. A green mint-based puree is what tied all of these elements together.
Based on the lineage and location of Cou Cou, we were presently surprised by the price points on the menu. Clearly, they aren't cheap but they aren’t exorbitant either—and most importantly, the food here offers complete value for the money you’re likely to spend here.
What did not work
Believe it or not, the value-for-money facet can be baffling at certain places on the menu—like in the case of the white asparagus, artichoke, and black truffle crepe which is priced at Rs 350, even though the ingredients used would be worth more. While we know truffles are hard to source, a sliver more on the dish would have made all the difference between skimpy and decadent.
While Cou Cou does have a great wine and beer list, we opted for a cold coffee and hot chocolate. Both the drinks were milky and weak—the only dining decision we regretted.
Address: Ground Floor, Jio World Drive, Bandra Kurla Complex, Mumbai.