Restaurant Review: Couscous House
Couscous House set up shop on a revitalizing stretch of Morse Road, an area recently populated by newer buildings along with bustling chain restaurants and stores. But Couscous House isn’t a chain restaurant. It’s a local start-up, offering what we’ll call a Chipotle-interpretation of Moroccan fare. As is the trend, it’s a place that lets you guide servers in building your own bowl. The creative power is yours.
And so, while sandwiches or salads are also reasonable starting points and options at Couscous House, it seems to make sense to start with a bowl, in particular a Couscous Bowl.
You can do a brown rice or white rice bowl too, and you can mix up different starches for variety, but couscous is the obvious first choice. Unlike rice, it’s not a grain, it’s a pasta: teeny tiny pasta nuggets made from durum wheat. Bowls are priced based on the proteins you add. Options include straightforward chunks of tender steak ($8.50), seasoned chunks of chicken ($7.50) or modest drumsticks ($7), plain and homespun in execution. There’s also a respectable meatball scene ($8.50): they are house-made, and hence pleasingly tender and flavorful.
So, back to the bowl. It’s a good-sized bowl, for starters: mini-mixing bowl sized. Good value and quantity are not going to be a problem at this eatery. Once you pick your protein, then it’s adventure time.
Get lots of zucchini and cabbage. The zucchini is cut in razor-thin rounds, roasted for extra flavor. Meanwhile, the cabbage, white and loopy, looks boring, but delivers more flavor and textures. Potatoes and seriously sweet caramelized onions both add some flavor dimension. Straightforward rectangles of cooked carrots and chickpeas can round out the selection, and in a fit of madness, turnip cubes also made the cut. Couscous House is a place that can make lots of things magical, but turnips are pretty much turnips everywhere you go. They are blessedly mild in turnip flavor, though, which seems like a good thing.
There’s also a broth option: both beef and chicken broth can crown your concoction like a dressing, in a viscous homey-looking fashion. Get some broth. It ties everything together and enhances the flavors. Having originally declined the broth option, a gentleman at the back of the house suggested rethinking that decision, and he was spot-on.
For the non-carb people, you can build a salad at the same price-points. The toppings include more predictable things found at traditional salad bars: lettuce, green peppers, corn, onions, dressing, etc.
At the end of the serving line, there’s a little cookie collection. You can experiment with three for $2.50. A pink swirly one was the best tried. It’s a fragile meringue, in a fun, tuity-fruity strawberry flavor. There’s also a more plain, brown coconut round, and a swirly, chocolate-covered sugar cookie that inexplicably came across as rather plain. The strawberry meringue easily won the cookie contest.
Couscous House is located at 1611 Morse Rd. For more information, visit Couscous House on Facebook.
All photos by Susan Post