Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Veg Out: Koo Zee Doo

Some copper pots and spoons are nailed to the walls of Koo Zee Doo, but that's the only reminder that this used to be a New American bistro named after an element.

It's Koo Zee Doo to you, now.

It's an intimate set-up, one where the woman who hosts us is the same baking ingenue responsible for the bread. The front dining room is directly beside the open kitchen. The back room is smaller but feels just as close, the wafting smells not having very far to travel and adept at tickling the nose.

Our server knows everything about Portuguese cuisine. Like everything. Just ask her.

Since we had forgotten to buy wine, we were offered complimentary glasses of house wine. For my starter, I ordered an entire plate of Queijo Fresco based on the pleasure of house tomato jam. After depleting the sweet dollop of preserve, the cheese sat there wondering if anyone would finish it.

There were two vegetarian entrees, one a giant stew of bread soup involving a vast hunk of broth-sogged bread, chanterelles, a sprinkle of cheese, and room temperature poached egg. It was a pretty respectable soup meal, defiantly filling and comforting. The other choice was a fried corn porridge that sounded heavenly and unknown, but I was curious about the radish salad in a red coriander vinaigrette. Root vegetables really do entice a bit on a dreary night. The heavily dressed salad could have had a lighter hand, but the parsnips were a nice visit.

One of the clear specialties here is the bread. Given a choice between a soft white roll and Broa, a grainy Portuguese cornbread, both housemade, we split the Broa and were immediately pleased. It was a cross between a biscuit and a scone, a stick-to-your-ribs bread that you could feel stories explode from. When I finally paid some attention to the roll, I found that it was just as fresh and pillowy as a house dinner roll should be.

This is group food and you should order giant plates to send around the table. The two of us ate small intending to explore dessert, made by the front-of-house bread master. We saw no reason not to order the coffee-soaked wafers in buttercream,  Bolo de Bolacha. It was so buttery and rich that I didn't pick up any coffee, topped with chocolate shards. The next dessert was a playful chocolate salami, the closest I will get to salami again. It was a texturally appealing log of chocolate mixed with cookie crumbs, flanked by a mound of mousse. While I thought that the mousse was too sweet, the chocolate-covered figs were especially good and a giant plate of chocolate odds and ends is never a pain. The coffee, from nearby roaster Peregrine, was fantastic. I can't believe that restaurants are still loyal to the local Starbuckian dove when they can have Peregrine.

Since the menu is tight (as it should be), I don't see myself frequenting Koo Zee Doo as often as a non-vegetarian would. I do think it is my new coffee/dessert cave. Is it weird to go there for coffee in the evenings?

Koo Zee Doo
614 N 2nd Street

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