Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Coupa Cafe - Venezuelan for Delicious

I want to apologize. Anyone who has ever read U.E. is probably sick of my Momed touting. In the past, I've often claimed Momed is the only above average affordable meal in Beverly Hills. That was a lie. Not sure if they too tired of my Momed claims, but Coupa Cafe recently invited Unemployed Eater and a guest to dinner to prove they also delivered some great, tasty bang for your buck in the heart of the 9021-somethings...

Result? The Canon Drive stalwart serves some truly delicious Venezuelan (and international) fare. Thus, let me reassert myself: Momed is one of TWO above average affordable meals in Beverly Hills.

Like many, I went into the meal with very little Venezuelan cuisine experience. With this in mind, the restaurant recommended we start with the Degustacion appetizer sampler. What a beautiful thing - tequenos (fried white cheese sticks wrapped in flour dough), maracuchitos (fried queso duro wrapped in sweet friend plantain), empanaditas (fried traditional mini empanadas - one carne molida, the other queso blanco), mini cachapas (corn griddle pancakes with fresh queso de mano) and arepitas (fried mini arepas with chicken salad atop). Honestly, it all was delicious. And fried. And cheesy. Highlight: the tequenos when dipped in the housemade guava sauce.

The lady friend ordered a Lavender Lime Rickey, a smooth combination of lavender citrus infuser, soju, limeade and a splash of lemon/lime soda.

When you eat Venezuelan you have to have an arepa ("white cornmeal stuffed griddle delight") or two.  We ordered the Carne Mechada (beef stew) and the house special arepa, Cami's (queso guayanes, avocado, sweet fried plantains, nata, guasacaca). Both delicious and WHEAT & GLUTEN-FREE. And filling. And cheap - you get your choice of any two arepas out of a dozen to choice from for $18 (which would fit nicely into esteemed blogger Midtown Lunch's under $10 per person prerequisite). 

The star of the night though was definitely the Polvorosa de Pollo, a shredded chicken pie. I love chicken. I love pie. I really love Polvorosa de Pollo. With pure sugar cane baked into the crust, this Caracas-traditional dish personified the ultimate balance between sweet and savory. I have not stopped thinking of this dish. And may never stop.

The first dessert we sampled was the house speciality Tres Leches cake. Disclaimer: U.E. does not love tres leches cake normally. This, however, was really good. Thicker than most and topped with a meringue, Coupa Cafe may have opened me up to the Tres Leches concept.

Like a good offensive lineman, Chocolate Mousse should be thick. Like the way Coupa does it.

Venezuela is known for its coffee, but it's practically impossible to get in the States due to some stupid embargo laws. However, there is a Coupa Cafe in Caracas, thus enabling them to import beans into the US for their Beverly Hills and Northern California locations. Definitely worth a try - along with their THREE different chai lattes. 

Coupa Cafe really delivered a delicious, eclectic meal at a great price. You can really tell how it has survived on Canon with so much nearby restaurant attrition. If only it could combine with Momed and then there would be no need to go anywhere else in Beverly Hills.

419 N. Canon Drive, Beverly Hills

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