By Meher Castelino
The Bandra Kurla Complex or BKC as it is popularly known, is Mumbai’s new corporate hub with top national and international companies jostling in the many ultra-modern structures with fancy offices and stylish head honchos aiming to zoom up the corporate ladders. Amongst this high octane stylish business atmosphere, the Jio World Drive is the location for the large servicing of one of the prominent watering holes – Cou Cou, the French Style patisserie that welcomes guests with its open seating plan and a relaxed ambience as the first independent food and beverage outlet by the legendary Oberoi group.
Cou Cou, in French means ‘Hello, how are you’ or ‘Welcome’ and that is exactly what Chefs Pierre Storti and Pratik Deshmukh, each with over decades of experience as patisseries, offer.
The Tuesday afternoon when we arrived after a stroll through the Mall, Cou Cou was already occupied by lovers of fine food and good bakery varieties.
“We at COU COU wish to create a patisserie which keeps the flavours and the essence of the ingredients used to its most natural form. Keeping flavours authentic, without additives is what we aim at. Our endeavour is to introduce new flavours using a base of strong high quality ingredients. We have tried to keep the look and feel of our cakes, pastries as natural as possible,” informs the very genial, Chef Pratik Deshmukh whose signature dishes from the COU COU menu are Chocolate & kumquat cake , Choux café caramel, Ispahan, Cream cheese & Orange macaron, Lavender macaron, Pecan praline, Soft caramel bar and Strawberry & pistachio ice Cream.
Chef Pierre Storti has global experience and whose love for baking started with his grandmother and mother and is a specialist in making Barley and Malt sourdough bread, garlic and green chillies whole-wheat focaccia, almond croissant, cinnamon brioche Feuillette, sour cherry and coconut Danish, Pithiviers and lobster brioche rolls that are classics for food connoisseurs. Cou cou breads blend local as well as imported ingredients and French techniques.
“We are trying to reduce the carbon foot print as much as possible by using local items and keeping the process as authentic as possible. Even the bread we make is slow to mature over a period of 30-36 hours. We don’t use industrial yeast to hasten the process. We make the dough and let the breads naturally ferment at a controlled temperature for 30 hours so the character is fixed and the flavour of the bread develops. It also breaks down the gluten in a way so you get the energy from the carbohydrates and not the other things people are worried about. Refined flour is not gut friendly but if you give it enough time it is actually easy to digest compared to regular bread,” informs Chef Pratik.
The cuisine is French but relatable and modified to appeal to Indian palates. The menu is not very extensive but more snacky with wines and beer because it’s a place one would come to relax and not for a really heavy meal or dining experience.
“The type of products we have will encourage people to try more things. In a heavy meal, one will have one thing and be done. But here there is a chance to try a lot of things in a single experience, so you can start with a coffee and croissant, then move to something filling like a puff, quiche, one of the sandwiches or our savoury hot pantry menu like a Croque sandwich and end the meal with a dessert.”
The menu is changed every 2 to 3 months with weekend specials, depending on the feedback from guests. Weekends are a busy time with the daily timings being from 11 am to 10.30 pm. The most popular items are the plain butter French croissants, sandwiches, smoked salmon basil avocado croissants, pastries like the Red Fruit Tart and Ispahan. Exotic crepes are made with white asparagus, some dishes with black truffles and truffle oil, while artichokes and avocados along with fresh exotic red currants from Australia appear on the menu.
All prices are exclusive of taxes so our Cou Cou experience started with a Celeric and garlic soup gently laced with black truffles (Rs 450+), which had an invigorating flavour. For an appetiser, it was a mushroom and egg salad (Rs 600+), which had a perfect blend of Rucola and iceberg lettuces, Shimeji and button mushrooms topped with sourdough croutons and a tangy truffle vinaigrette. The Brie and Caramelised Onion Tart Salad (Rs 500+) was a perfect mix of greens, balsamic figs, sprinkled with toasted walnuts.
Our drink was, a soothing calming, pineapple and basil juice (Rs 200+) with the latter having a prominent flavour. Moving into the main course our palates loved the Croque – Pan Fried Sandwich (Rs 550+), which was layered with cheese, broccoli, leeks and kale. But since I don’t have dairy products, Chef Pratik very kindly replaced cheese with a mix of spices and herbs. The Asparagus and Corn cigars (Rs 450+) created from Jalapeno and goat cheese were visually and gastronomically delicious.
Our dessert was the very exotic Red Fruit Tart (Rs 350+). The circular two biscuits were created from flax seed and almond pastes instead of refined flour. The chocolate ganache was from cocoa with raspberry and sour cherry puree. Sugar was absent but the sweetness was from the cocoa bean, while the red currants imported from Australia were turned into a jelly. We washed the delicious meal down with a Kashmiri Kawah (Rs 250+) brewed from green tea, cardamom, saffron, almonds, rose petals cloves and sprinkled with slivers of almonds.
Chef Pratik once again emphasised that Cou Cou moves away from artificial products. No bread enhancers or colouring in the dessert glazing. “The pink glazing is done with beetroot juice and palm jaggery is favoured instead of sugar. We have a pistachio raspberry cake so we use basil natural light green colour. Everything we make is fresh and gets over within hours. Fresh batches including desserts are made every few hours.”
The glass enclosed kitchen allows the guests to check on their orders as the chefs expertly prepare them. The various ready-to-eat options like croissants, Croque sandwiches, cakes, pastries and macrons are showcased for quick service, while the other orders are freshly prepared.
A full meal like the one we had will cost Rs 2400 per head, plus taxes but one could go for some select options too.
Note – A slight drawback in navigating to Cou Cou at BKC, since the complex has many gates, a one-way rule and many Uber drivers find it difficult to arrive on time, due to the many sections and gates.