The ice cream of your childhood dreams is deliciously reinvented at Coucou in Venice, California. At the new Cali-French bistro on Main Street, Bouchon alum Jacob Wetherington created a swirly soft serve (with fancy fixin’s) that’s a crowd pleaser not only at the restaurant but also on TikTok, where the lactose-erati is showing off videos of what really is the tastiest new dessert in L.A.
I was surprised to see only one dessert item on the menu at Coucou (to be fair, the swirl is not actually listed on the menu, but still…). Yet this dish delivers with a mix of nostalgia, elegance and drizzly good times. The oversized vanilla soft serve is a twisted updo of Straus Family Creamery ice cream served in a celery green parfait glass. The accompaniments add major drama—with diva honors going to the side dish of pourable hard-shell chocolate.
To learn more, I spoke to Hayley Feldman, who co-owns Coucou with her husband, Jesse, about an inspired dessert that is the talk of the town this summer.
What was the inspiration for the vanilla soft serve?
At Coucou, we like to say we are French inspired, so we like things a little bit fancy. We also pride ourselves on sourcing the very best, local ingredients possible. We wanted to feature a dessert that ticked both of those boxes and had classic appeal.
What’s the magic of “magic shell?” Get a little poetic for us. Why are we all suckers for a hard-shell drizzle?
Oh, yes, there’s so much to love with a DIY drizzle situation! It’s fun, and textural and pretty much live entertainment. It really is magic to watch the topping transform from a dish of warm chocolate and instantly harden before your eyes into a drippy, delicious formation. Our customers really let their creative juices flow.
Soft serve is a classic American lowbrow street treat but you’ve classed it up. Talk about the elements that went into making this a culinary standout?
Straus Organic Creamery is the star of the show here. A little childhood nostalgia came into play, and the concept of a DIY sundae just felt right—but with luxurious, high quality toppings instead of the Red #40 maraschino cherries we all grew up with. Chef Jacob perfected a pourable hard-shell chocolate that is served warm. We serve it with Luxardo cherries and chopped almonds, in tiny cups for self-serve. I sourced these vintage, mint-green ice cream cups from the 1950s, and I think it really brings the whole experience together.
Any favorite TikTok reactions to your swirl? I know it’s gotten lots of love on social media.
Oh man, this part was definitely not expected! We aren’t on TikTok, but apparently “Coucou Venice” has something like 260 million views [editor’s note: True, though not all of them pertain to the restaurant]. We love seeing people pour the chocolate onto their soft serve and laughing at the huge, fun mess it can be. We’ve seen people lick the bowls clean. Probably the best soundbite I’ve heard so far is: “it’s organic, so it’s basically healthy”!
Is it really the only dessert item on the menu? What’s the thinking there, if so?
Yes, it’s true. It is our only dessert on the menu. We are a smaller restaurant, so we have to be thoughtful about our menu. We are super focused on a well-curated list so we can deliver a consistent dining experience every time.
How long will this stay on the menu? Is it a summer seasonal thing or can we go into fall knowing there will be Coucou soft serve in our future?
Forever! Our Straus Organic Creamery Soft Serve Sundae is here to stay. We have no plan to change it up seasonally. We like the classics, and why mess with a good thing, right?
This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.