We just got back from a wonderful meal at Coup des Tartes. The drive to Phoenix from Tucson was well worth it, especially since our friend who needed the ride to Phoenix paid for the gas!
Now for the chow....
I was delighted that we were seated by the window in a small back room. We were alone in the room at first so it was quiet (except for the music, which was too loud, but our server noticed it and immediately remedied the problem). There was a tree outside our window with white Christmas lights so as the sun went down, the tree lit up and it added to the festive mood. I love restaurants that are in old homes. We felt instantly relaxed after the long drive in horrendous traffic. Our server brought a small dish of fabulous olives, black, oil cured with herbs, plump and delicious, which I devoured as I hadn't eated much all day. Glenn doesn't like olives, so they were all mine. The dish was soon replenished, and I fought the temptation to eat all of those.
I'd already studied the menu online but it was still fun to read. Everything sounded good. Glenn and I split the Brie Brulee appetizer. It was a very generous hunk of brie, warmed up, with thin slices of red apple on top and "bruleed." There wasn't a lot of brulee on it, but the crunchy sweet did taste great with the brie. The toasts served with it were fabulous -- thin buttery slices of baguette, toasted just right. On the platter with the brie was an abundance of fruit -- grapes, pear, strawberries (sweet ones! at this time of year!). I could easily see coming to this place and having this platter to myself for dinner. Yum. My one complaint was that not all of the brie was warm. I'd have liked the whole thing to be much warmer and runnier. Just my preference.
I had the Mixte salad (and shared some with Glenn) which was lovely and light. We both liked it a lot. Baby greens, very fresh and tender, tossed with a "classic Dijon/shallot vinaigrette." I ate every leaf. Perfectly dressed. And I could apply my own cracked pepper as there was a miniature peppermill on the table. Nice touch. It was nice to have such a simple salad and really taste the greens. The salad came with a plate of French bread wedges and a fabulous herb butter.
For mains, Glenn had the Lamb Shank, which is their house specialty. Huge meaty bone with Moroccan spices over veggies and dried fruits on top of couscous. Very flavorful. He was happy, and we brought half of it home to have for lunch tomorrow. I had the risotto which was really unique -- menu says "creamy risotto with filets of organic Arizona oranges and grapefruits. Tossed with freshly chopped cilantro and topped with lime and garlic sauteed shrimp." The dish was a bit more runny than I like risotto to be, but the rice itself was still chewy and wonderful. The citrus was a wonderful balance to the richness of the cheese in the dish. The "filets" of citurs were small and thin and practically melted into the risotto as I ate it. I loved that and I would have actually liked a bit more of it. I found the sauce to have a bit of a chalky aftertaste, though. I could see the flecks of cilantro but couldn't really taste them. The risotto was topped with 5 or 6 (didn't count) medium-large shrimp with the tails on. Defintely tasted the garlic; could have used a bit more lime. I ate the whole thing, but not sure I'd order it again if we go back (which I hope to) because there are so many other wonderful-sounding things on the menu.
Dessert menu came and hubby ordered the dulce de leche tart with mango and raspberries, and I ordered the house "signature tart" which is banana brulee with coconut cream in a chocolate crust. Mine sounded better on paper than it tasted. The chocolate crust didn't work with the rest of the tart...and I am a chocolate fiend. But there was something about it that didn't taste right. The coconut cream tasted of fresh coconut which was great, the bananas were fine and the brulee was crunchy and good. Swirls of chocoate and caramel sauce on the plate. I ate some of the filling, gave Glenn a bite, he gave me a bite of his and I swooned. We switched plates. :) The dulce de leche was to die for. Wonderful caramel flavor...texture almost like cheesecake. Where my tart was a round and short tartlet, his was a huge wedge from a larger tart. It was tall and thick with a shortbread crust that was really really good. Small bits of mango and fresh raspberries complemented the dish with some creme anglaise swirled on the plate. My cup of strong coffee went perfectly with the sweet confection. Glenn had a latte that was excellent. The foam was plentiful and thick! Almost like whipped cream. He's a foam guy, so he was more than happy.
The other tarte I want to try next time is cinnamon pear -- pears infused with cinnamon and vanilla on an almond crust, served warm with creme anglaise. I was leaning toward it but decided I ought to try the "signature" tart. Oh well.
Service was friendly and prompt. We were never forgotten even though we were in the back room. The room did fill up, but everyone knew to speak in hushed tones, so even though there were 10 people in a tiny room, we didn't feel cramped. Reminded me a bit of small bistros in Paris where people are packed in. We had more space tonight! I could easily see someone totally ruining the experience by being loud, though; glad we were lucky.
So glad I heard about this place here!