Friday, March 9, 2012

Koo Zee Doo

Another Sunday, another Supper Club meeting. This has quickly grown into one of my favorite activities of the month. Taking a huge table at a great restaurant, surrounded by friends, wine and ridiculously large portions of fantastic food. This month we trekked all the way (it's almost at Spring Garden) to Koo Zee Doo for some authentic Portuguese fare. Built on the bones of Copper Bistro (anyone else remember that one?) it is a very cozy BYO run by a husband and wife team that could not be more pleasant and easy to deal with. They handled our multiple menu requests and headcount changes without issue. And the food they turn out of the open kitchen is stellar. 

pickled ivory tremoços beans

Our server started the meal with a description of the menu, some excellent Portuguese pronunciations (he's been practicing) and some house made rolls. One, a traditional white and the other a dense broa that is somewhere between cornbread and a scone. Slathered with some salted butter, these were warm and so inviting on a chilly Sunday night. He also brought out their complimentary tremocos beans - basically a pickled lupini bean that you eat like edamame. These are some slippery little suckers - several were inadvertently launched towards other tables. The taste is a little briny and the bean is very tender inside the tough shell. You will not see these on any other menu in the city. Very addictive. 

alheira - smoked sausage, greens, fried egg
The first course featured a pair of very rustic, almost peasant food type dishes; alheira and moelas. The alheira - a house made smoked sausage of duck, rabbit, chicken, and bread, pan seared and served over a healthy portion of mustard greens sauteed with plenty of garlic & vinegar. The greens had some great bite to them, helping to cut through the almost overwhelming richness of the sausage and fried egg. A very substantial dish, smartly arranged and a good warm up for what was to come. 

moelas - braised chicken gizzards
The very mention of the word "gizzard" is enough to give people the willies. Those people are missing out. If you aren't in the know on your chicken parts, the gizzard is the heart, which is basically just a muscle - so no weird texture or connective tissue to deal with. Just tons of flavor in every little nugget of these moelas. These are just SO good. Simply braised, served family style (like everything at Koo Zee Doo) with some reduced braising stock to keep them moist and a simple squeeze of lemon. They are like the best piece of dark meat chicken you've ever eaten. One of the highlights of the night for me.

bife a portuguesa - picahana steak, presunto, fried egg, fried potatoes 

Steak. It's what's for dinner. Well, one third of the main course at least. Koo Zee Doo serves this top sirloin cap in the colonial Brazilian style, pre-sliced, with a rich sauce for dipping those super crispy fried potatoes, slices of presunto ham on top (similar to Spanish Iberian but a little saltier), and a fried egg for good measure. When can you ever get enough fried eggs? The steak was so tender that you almost didn't need a knife. The mix of the salty ham and rich egg was indulgent. 

churrasco - grilled chicken & pork spareribs
The traditional Portuguese churrasco, or "mixed-grill" with portions of slow grilled chicken and pork spare ribs was fantastic. Almost everyone agreed that the ribs were something special, and the favorite of most of the group. Plated in a huge porcelain platter and with a little saucer of piri-piri - a spicy pepper based sauce - for drizzling. Visually impressive, super tasty, and crowd pleasing. We actually had leftovers of this that I had for lunch two days, and it inconceivably got better. 

lulas estufadas - fried and braised squid, tomatoes, mashed potatoes

Not a dish for the squeamish or already stuffed, the lulus estufadas is a mix of squid braised in a tomato sauce with whole olives and fresh peas, ladled over top of mashed potatoes and then topped with crispy fried calamari. An interesting proposition - squid, potatoes & tomato sauce; it doesn't look like much but ended up being the best thing I ate all night. The braised squid was unimaginably tender - the best I've ever had. The fried stuff on top was crispy and delicious. Super smooth and creamy mashed potatoes that soak up the rich tomato broth. Somehow it all works.

pudim de pão de chocolate - chocolate hazelenut bread pudding

The desserts were original and decadent. A chocolate hazelnut bread pudding was so rich and dense it could bend forks like that kid from the Matrix. Hands down favorite though was the maca no forno, a baked caramel apple & custard sprinkled with almonds. The apple was so soft and sweet with the caramel sauce, the almonds offering a bite of texture to snap you out of your food induced coma. An outstanding meal all around. Come with friends, bring copious amounts of wine, and wear your eatin' pants.


maçã no forno - baked custard, caramel apple, almonds

Food Baby Rating: Triplets!

614 N. 2nd Street (between Fairmount & Spring Garden)
Philadelphia, PA 19123

1 comment:

  1. Hi Brian,

    Thanks for this post - visiting Philly in just under a month and really appreciate this review - probably the best I've seen of Koo Zee Doo.

    No idea if you'd be interested, but I'm currently rounding up some folks of Chowhound and/or PhillySpeaks for a couple meals - one a sandwich tour of Philly on 5/22 at lunch time and one a meet up at Alla Spina on (probably) 5/25. I'd also like to find someone to split a few pizzas at Barbuzzo at lunch on 5/23, but that one seems to have less interest.

    If you're interested feel free to get at me through my blog ( or at uhockey at yahoo dot com.