Monday, July 5, 2010

Club Co Co

My husband, Patrick and I went to see Exit Through The Gift Shop (which was totally awesome and you should see it if you are at all interested in street art) at E Street Cinema in downtown DC. The movie got out around 9:30 pm and we were looking for a place to eat. We headed over to Co Co Sala as I had heard great things about the place which is a "Chocolate lounge and boutique".

When we got to the restaurant we were hoping for a table outside as it was a nice night but the last open table had just been snagged. We did not have reservations but we were free to sit at the bar but by the time we checked the other side of the bar for open seats, all available seats had been filled. So we walked out of the restaurant to discuss plan B.

As we were standing on the sidewalk, the restaurant manager came out and asked if we were leaving because he had arranged a table for us if we could come in and have a look. We went back in and found a table near the front door that was crammed into an odd little corner. But it would do and plan b had not materialized.

The interior of the restaurant was very dark which made it hard and awkward to read the menu. You had to huddle close to the tea light candle on the table. It was also loud with some head bobbing Night at the Roxbury music. But it was posh with a huge bar and cozy seating. But then it got worse, around 10 pm the DJ went on and played some 70's/80's funk which would have been better left alone. Once he let the beat drop with a most horrible sound. But we were there for the food, not a club night.

We started with a flight of their Hot Coco. You pick three from their choice of six options. I wanted the pumpkin but was told they only have it in the fall which lead me to wonder why was it still on the menu in May. So we got the dark chocolate, peanut butter, and salted caramel. The dark wasn't that dark and we were told it was blended with milk chocolate but the salted caramel was very good and I loved the peanut butter. You can order the coco hot or cold but the flight is only served hot, not really sure why.

On to the food, Patrick ordered the charcuterie platter which was standard but served cold which is sad as salami and cheese are always more flavorful at room temperature. I got the Alaskan black cod that was marinated in honey then crusted in bee pollen and served with creamy lemon lime asparagus risotto. I like my fish to flake apart but I actually had to use my knife to cut it and was unable to tell if it was under cooked because it was too dark to tell. The fish also did not seem to be crusted with bee pollen but sprinkled. The risotto was more chunky then creamy which left me wondering if it was really risotto. The dish was saved by a generous amount of micro cilantro and citrus flavor.

I was really looking forward to dessert and had heard customers exclaim that this or that was the best thing they ever had. I asked our server which items on the menu were gluten free and he came back with a disappointing answer. The only gluten free dessert option was sorbet. Chocolate itself is gluten free but most of their desserts consisted of cookie, crumbles, and cake. I know I could not have been the first person to come in who does not eat wheat and I was disappointed but their lack of options.

So I ordered the trio of sorbets which included passion fruit, green apple, and pear. They were good but nothing special and easy to do at home. Patrick got the Basil and Berry Shortcake and the best thing about it was the basil foam. If you are living gluten free, don't bother with Co Co Sala. It is a tease of things you cannot eat.

I had hoped for a nice romantic late night nosh but it turned out to be a most stressful event. We should not have walked back in that night but you have to learn these lessons. It was a Saturday night and the place was packed but even still it took a ridiculously long time to get our food, then longer to get our dessert. Considering the only dish that needed to be cooked was my cod and everything else laid out on plates, our dining experience really should not have take an hour and half.

We were told there was a computer error but we really didn't want to hear excuses. Our server was nice and attentive even thought he seemed less than knowledgeable about the menu items. We were rather unhappy and ready to get the check when our dessert was finally served. We did complain to our server about the volume (which made me wish I had an app for a decibel meter) and long wait for our food. He must have mentioned it to the manager who lured us back in because he came over to our table to hear our grievances.

He was very nice and told us that after 10 pm it turns into a lounge atmosphere and the music is loud to keep people awake. OK that's fine, it was our fault for coming in so late at night but do you really have to deafen us? He would not let us leave without a goody bag and his card. Inside was chocolate dipped bacon. I do love bacon but I would rather have a Mo's Bacon Bar from Vosges.

I also hate restaurant websites that have music, especially lame club music. But it is not surprising that has a great example of this and no silent button on the site. Their website takes a bit to load even with a fast connection then tries to invoke a seizure with some flashy photos most of which you can't figure out what the image is even supposed to be. The set up of their site does not work well with my small lap top computer as it cuts off the top navigation bar and when I hit the back button I have to start all over and flash through the opening of their site.

Co Co Sala might be a great place if you are on a third date and have exhausted all conversation but still want to get your date into bed or really love to eat while clubbing. It is a trendy place that is all flash and no substance. It was a great place to people watch which was nice as conversation was difficult over the loud music. They need to decide if they want to be a restaurant, bar, lounge, or club. Do they want to focus on food or atmosphere because so far they are not living up to their potential.

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