I’ve been reviewing and writing about restaurants since 2010 and in that time have been fortunate enough to dine at 100s of restaurants. I write many reviews on my Instagram page and during that time, never have I ever received so many mixed comments and messages about one restaurant than Coco. I got loads of messages about food being poor, bad service – but also got positive messages about an amazing dining experience.
I’m not here to debate anyone else’s experience, I can only talk about mine so here it is!
Before I start this review let me highlight a few things.
1. I visited during the restaurant’s soft launch, so it wasn’t officially opened.
2. I discovered this restaurant via social media and noticed the location, high-end restaurant interiors and the dry (no alcohol) drinks menu
3. I reached out to the restaurant and wanted to know if they wanted me to review them in exchange for a complimentary press review meal, they said yes – so my meal was complimentary
4. During the soft launch, there was no DJ, loud music or entertainment. My experience was a quiet, chilled fine dining experience
The food is Turkish inspired and the restaurant can serve up to 200 people. There’s also a beautiful outdoor terrace that’s next to the river. As restaurants go, this one was one of the most striking in terms of the ambient and decor, clearly, a lot of money and time has been spent on building this restaurant
Food-wise I had some really good food, some food wasn’t at the same level, but did enjoy something new in terms of non-alcoholic (Halal) wine
Glazed Cauliflower £8
Crispy Cauliflower, CocoBBQ Sauce Spring Onions, Coriander, Sesame Seeds, TahiniBread
Started with some crispy cauliflower, presentation was great, served on a bed of dry ice which added some nice theatre, I loved the cauliflower dish, cauliflower had a lovely texture and the BBQ sauce was balanced well.
Sumac Boneless Chicken Wings £10
Confit Wings, Sumac, Lemon ZestBurned Lime, Lemon ChiliMayo
The Boneless chicken wings were also great, very tender and soft achieved by the slow-cooked Confit process, flavours were good too.
Ribeye Steak £32
250g Argentinian Black Label Rib-Eye Steak, Mixed Leaves, Sumac Dressing, TruffleMayo, Maldon Salt
The highlight of the evening was the buttery, melted in my mouth 28 day aged Argentinian rib-eye steak. At £35 it’s pricey but it was delicious and was a joy to eat, cooked perfectly as requested to a medium-rare.
Mixed Coco Shish £35
Also tried the Mixed Coco Shish, the lamb pieces were large and cooked perfectly, but I felt the chicken was overcooked which made it dry. The Adana kebab was cooked well but lacked in the flavour department.
At the £35 price point, I would have expected more items, I also would expect better quality lamb and chicken, at least corn fed chicken or a better cut of lamb for the Adana. An example of better quality meats would be the menu at The Mantl in Knightsbridge.
Black miso cod £38
Marinated in Kefir Lime and Miso with Lemon Chili Mayo and a Burnt Lime Wedge
A dish that’s been clearly inspired by the Black Cod from Nubu, whilst cooked perfect, I wasn’t too keen with the flavours – not a dish I liked – it didn’t go to waste, I ate every bite but had to force it down.
Coco’s Banoffee Mug £10
Baked moist brioche, banana, chocolate ice cream with warm toffee sauce
Vegan Coconut Mousse £10
with passion fruit and roasted pineapple
The desserts were not great, unimaginative and lacked depth in any department, the mug cake was just that: a cake in a mug, that anyone can make at home with a microwave, this was baked but I found parts dry and absent of much taste,
The vegan mouse was light and refreshing, but again lacked body and depth and was too simple for a dessert costing £10
I think it’s important to note that in the UK, restaurants make a large percentage of revenue via the sale of alcohol, most restaurants sell glasses of wine that cost pennies for pounds, this is how they can help food costs be affordable.
In Central London, the rent prices are high so if a restaurant wants to forgo the selling of alcohol it needs to charge a premium for the food or non-alcoholic drinks to make up the difference in potential lost revenue. Having no alcohol in places like East London is not normally too much of an issue as restaurants are normally in areas where the population don’t drink and rents are lower.
Hence why coco and the only other halal restaurant in Zone 1 that serve no alcohol have a slighter higher price than most.
So, let’s talk about the pricing, some foods are prices okay for what you get, like the steak which is a premium aged steak from Argentina but some are not, like the mixed grill. I’m happy to pay extra of a restaurant sources ingredients of a higher standard, however, I don’t see it here, the chicken is not free-range or corn fed for example.
At the time I visited there was no minimum spend, however, the restaurant has now enforced a minimum spend of £25 Mon to Thursday and £50 at other times. I don’t like this and think it’s in poor taste. In particular, if you just wanted a drink and a few nibbles by the river, it would completely suck if you were vegetarian due to the lack of menu options.
As mentioned I visited during a soft launch so there were only a few tables of customers, so the service we received was quick and we had a friendly waitress and other service staff. It still has far to go from being classed as fine dining, but I had no complaints. However, as mentioned I was invited, it was quiet and the owner was here as well.
An area in which this place is different is the massive drinks menu. They have a very large drinks menu, not your usual sweet Mocktails but halal wine! I had a £25 bottle of Pierre Zero Prestige – Chardonnay which lasted the whole night, it was a good experience. You can actually taste different flavours on your tongue in stages and flavours develop over time; Peach, white flower and apricot, vanilla, and honey undertones
This place is great for a night out or special occasion. The views of Tower Bridge are amazing as to, the standard of interior design and decor, it makes for lovely pictures for Instagram – as does the theatrical aspects like the dry ice in some dishes for presentation. The vibe is second to none and some of the food mentioned above was good. I recommend the steak for sure!
So, would I come back here again? Well if you factor in the price, the answer is only for a special occasion, apart from the steak, there isn’t anything here I’d rush back for food-wise, maybe the cauliflower dish, but that’s because I really like cauliflower. If it wasn’t for the steak I had, I would have scored the food 5.5/10 but that steak bumps it up a point.
This new style of menu, where the focus is around grilled meats is now becoming very common from new restaurants that are trying a similar – i.e creating a “vibe”, flower walls, DJ’s, live performances. I have seen this formula being repeated a lot.
I also do not like the minimum spend, it actually cheapens a place and is not a classy move, if that was not a thing then I would be more inclined to visit. I put food first and truly speaking I can get the same level or better food elsewhere. However, what you won’t get is the dining experience, beautiful decor and amazing location of Tower Bridge – so it depends on what you prioritise.
All food is halal. I was invited here, my meal was complimentary.