When the 18 year-old Italian restaurant Senso closed permanently, a part of the team, including the Swiss chefs Yves Schmid and Sebastien Donati, decided to open a Swiss restaurant named Coucou along Craig Road. Coucou means “hello” in French (one of the four national languages of Switzerland) or cuckoo bird, a reminder of cuckoo clocks for which Switzerland is famous.
Many of the ingredients are imported from Switzerland and all their selections of wines (except for champagne) are from the country. They start from an affordable $12/glass.
If you don’t want wine, recommended are their own concoctions of cocktails. Cosmorand ($18) is a play on Cosmopolitan except that vodka is replaced by abricotine, a Swiss apricot brandy. They substitute rum for Williamine, a Swiss pear brandy, in Williamine mojito ($18), making the mojito less sour and sweeter, although I miss the refreshing sourness of the original cocktail.
For starters, instead of Assiette Valaisanne ($30 half platter, $55 full), go for the malakoff, a ball of fried cheese found in Western Switzerland. If you think it sounds Russian, you’re right. In the 19th century, a group of Swiss mercenaries helped Russia to fight in the Siege of Sevastopol and the Swiss brought the food back to Switzerland.
Coucou uses gruyere, slightly pungent, and when you bite it, the molten cheese oozes while the crispy surface provides a counterpoint. SO GOOD.
It comes with curly salad and a homemade “grand pére” (grandfather) dressing, so called because the recipe–we tasted garlic, onion, something spicy (chilli?), and vinegar–comes from Chef Schmid’s grandfather who had a restaurant. The creamy dressing is really something: it made us finish the salad.
Coucou uses a species of trout native to Switzerland for the trout tartare ($30), mixed with dill, sour cream, and green chillis. The tangy, creamy flavours remind me of Mexican food.
The rosti Zermatt ($28) is very crispy shredded potatoes topped with Swiss raclette cheese and ham. Nothing very special although no complaints eithers.
Spätzli ($8) as a side dish: poached wriggly “pasta,” in the shape of “worms,” is pan-seared in butter. Carbs and butter–what could go wrong?
Between the ovomaltine mousse (we know it as ovaltine) served with a Swiss airy ginger bread, and the meringue ($14, pictured below), the latter is superior by a mile.
The meringue is topped with Gruyere double cream which contains about 48% fat–so so fat, so so divine. The raspberry compote, sour, and the tart antioxidants deliver a refreshing end to the meal, and also undercut the sweetness of the meringue and density of the cream.
Coucou is an understated restaurant. Elegant without being ostentatious with its row of cuckoo clocks chiming soothingly every hour.
9 Craig Road #01-01 Singapore 089669
tel: +65 6226 0060
Mon-Sat: 12pm – 2.30pm, 6 – 10.30pm
Sun: 12pm – 2:30pm
Price / value: 6/10
Decor / ambience: 8/10
You may be interested in…
–Six Senses Brasserie, Maxwell: Almost a Weekend Brunch Buffet
–BBR by Alain Ducasse, Raffles Hotel Singapore: (Probably) The Most Celebrated Living French Chef in the World
–Naga Imo, Club Street: Omakase on the First Storey, Izakaya on the Second
–Pixy Restaurant & Bar, Mohamed Sultan: Excellent Autumn Degustation by New Chef Nobu
Written by Dr. A. Nathanael Ho.