RATING: 3.5/5 stars

When most students first move to Hamilton, Westdale is the first place they learn to travel to, and Bean Bar is the only place they’re willing to eat. But often overlooked by its small size and strange placement between clothing stores catered towards middle-aged women, is Koosh Bistro, a long-running Hamilton restaurant serving up Italian-style cuisine and a large selection of both imported and domestic wines.

I first went to Koosh during a recent snowstorm when I found myself temporarily stranded in Westdale. There was one other group of people present when I entered, and contrary to the bitter and heartbreaking weather, the hostess was friendly and welcoming.

The small restaurant had enough seating for probably no more than 30 people, but its small setting managed to pack historical Hamilton trinkets and paintings, and a rotating gallery of artwork that changes every few months to showcase a different local artist’s work.

Upon sitting down, I was provided with a generous amount of complimentary bread for one person, and I then proceeded to order Puttanesca Sausage pasta. When I first looked at the menu, I was taken aback by the prices and realized why most students tended to veer away from it. With most pastas weighing in around $20 and entrees in the same price range, I began to hesitate about my poorly thought out polar vortex lunch plans. But, I was soon pleased to see that they had a lunch menu that included an identical selection of pastas (unfortunately no entrée options) with halved prices. Their lunch specials were definitely more wallet friendly, and they provide a 10% student discount until 4:00pm on weekdays.

The pasta was pretty standard and as pasta generally is, it was a satisfying eat. The “Koosh Coffee” I ordered post-luncheon, was really rich and super tasty. And as a bonus, it was spiked, so it really couldn’t go wrong.

Although it may not have the accessible prices that most Westdale hotspots offer students, Koosh provides a homey and romantic atmosphere that is bound to impress your date on a night on the town, or your parents when they decide to investigate why you chose to move to city known for its pollution levels. Koosh is the cush’ of the steel city.