Past Meetup

Dinner at Couscous


Led by a diverse team of industry veterans, Couscous features a variety of innovative elements. Chief among them is the restaurant’s dual-chef-driven kitchen. Chefs Khaled Chebbi and Lotfi Chabaane collaborate on a menu of accessible, Mediterranean-inspired dishes that appeal to all palates.

Tunisian-born Chebbi leads efforts as executive chef and infuses the traditional fare of his childhood into his recipes. Developing a passion for food at an early age, Chebbi honed his craft under culinary influencers across the globe. He has since worked in Atlanta with such prestigious entities as Mid City Cuisine, Carpe Diem and chefs Richard Wilt and Robert Phalen. A creative and passionate chef, Chebbi focuses on fresh, simple and organic ingredients at Couscous.

As consultant chef, Chabaane brings extensive knowledge to the Couscous team. His international experience across Europe and with high-volume destinations, including stints on the Queen Elizabeth II and restaurants in Florida and Bermuda, gives him a unique perspective. Chabaane knows the business comprehensively, having served in every position in both front- and back-of-house operations. His finesse and seasoned approach are the ideal complement to Chebbi’s eye for innovation.

The final piece of the Couscous culinary trifecta is owner and general manager Haykel Arfaoui. His financial background helps lead the restaurant’s infrastructure, and his success is evident in the operation of Perla Taqueria since 2010. A 15-year industry veteran, Arfaoui considers the business more than simply his career; it is his way of life.

“We really wanted to create a cozy café-style restaurant with quality cuisine,” said Arfaoui. “And with these chefs at the helm, we’ve got an interesting menu that is rich and diverse, without being intimidating. At Couscous, guests can enjoy global flavors without leaving the city – or breaking the bank.”

From The AJC, by Bob Townsend

In May, chefs Khaled Chebbi and Lotfi Chabaane collaborated with owner and general manager Haykel Arfaoui of Perla Taqueria to open Couscous, a cozy Mediterranean-American cafe near the Botanical Garden and Piedmont Park.

The look: Hidden away in the former Amuse space at the end of Dutch Valley Road, the restaurant features a lush garden patio. Inside, the design is anchored by a long row of tall windows that look out on the patio. Jewel-like colors are on display in tiles, fabrics and art work, and ornate lights hang from the ceiling, along with simple white fans.

The scene: One recent evening, a large group gathered for a party at a long table, where presents were stacked up for the guest of honor. Around the dining room and out on the patio, couples were scattered at smaller tables, while other groups congregated at the bar for drinks and small plates.

The menu: Among the small plates, find grilled charmoula shrimp skewers with Georgia peach salsa ($9), and grilled merguez lamb sausage with cucumber relish, Dijon mustard, and pickled onions ($7). A borgul wheat salad mixes chick peas, almonds, raisins, preserved lemon, tomato jam, arugula and cumin and citrus vinaigrette ($7). Entrees range from grilled hanger steak frites ($17), to pan-roasted chicken with harissa carrot puree ($14), and Tunisian seafood pasta with charred tomato sauce and chick peas ($17). Of course, there’s couscous ($15-$20), served with veggies, lamb, chicken or seafood.

The drinks: At the bar, look for a list of specialty cocktails ($8), including the Carthage Fizz with fresh lemon juice, Blue Curacao, amaretto and sparkling wine. The concise wine list features two price tiers by the glass ($7/$8) or the bottle ($26/$28). The beer list includes a surprising number of craft offerings, including Bell’s Two Hearted ($6), Victory Golden Monkey ($6) and Left Hand Milk Stout ($5).

Dinner Menu:

Attendees (5)