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Co Co Sala, Gallery Place - Closed


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My wife and I (along with both sets of parents) went to Co Co Sala tonight. Of all the new places in PQ, I think this was the one that we were anticipating the most. The menu is quite unique in my experience. Obviously, everything revolves around chocolate and coffee, and we were told that everything on the menu has either chocolate or coffee in it in one form or another.

The savory part of the menu are different flavor combinations of appetizers: mac & cheese, mini burgers, crabcakes(?), and one other thing I can't remember. And of course the sweet part of the menu is pretty extensive. What I found really interesting is that they have four different chocolate tasting menus of five courses each. Each menu is reflective of a different chocolate region of the world, and includes an amusé, intermezzo, and cheese course. There is a pretty long hot chocolate menu where you can get a different type of hot chocolate flavor and you can even get it in frozen/coffeeccino form. They also do have a full-service bar with your favorite cocktails, et al.

But from our first visit there, the most striking thing is the interior. The place is appointed like a lounge that you could easily find in Manhattan or London. It's really obvious they spared no expense in decorating this place. It is a really inviting space and, although theoretically sounds like a pretentious type of place, is actually very warm. To top it off, while you would expect London prices, it's actually pretty reasonable. I think the 5-course chocolate tasting menu was $30 and a hot chocolate was $5-$6. You can't even get a $5 hot chocolate at Mariebelle in Soho in NY. Hell, you can't even get a $5 hot chocolate at Starbucks these days, can you?

I think that what they have in Coco Sala is a real winner. I definitely see this place getting real crowded really soon, and will be a destination place for the area. My advice is to get in there while it's still relatively easy to get in. I think it's going to become the next Proof.... lucky for us, my wife and I live only a block away.

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After going to Chikalicious in NY and Finale in Boston a few years ago, I wondered why we didn't have a dessert restaurant in DC. So I was looking forward to trying this place. We need a dessert place in DC. We went for "dinner" and had a good time. It's not a place for a conventional dinner because they just have the small appetizer type plates. I had the bacon mac and cheese which was oriechette in a rich cheesy sauce with bacon bits. It comes in a small square bowl and laid across the top was a skinny strip of crunchy bacon with melted chocolate along the top side of the strip, which I liked because I like chocolate and bacon together. I also had the tandoori chicken slider (ground chicken patty) which I also enjoyed (but $7 for one).

You can get one of the 5 course dessert tasting menus (of which the 4th is a cheese course) for $30 or just get the main dessert from the tasting menu for $12. I had the main dessert from one of the menus, which was a mini chocolate cupcake, peanut butter ice cream bananas foster, and a malted shooter. My favorite was the peanut butter ice cream bananas foster. The cake part of the mini chocolate cupcake wasn't as chocolatey as the kind of chocolate cakes I like. We also had the mojito with chocolate shavings on top, but I thought the chocolate shavings were an extraneous add-on (hard to eat in a drink). My husband had the Italian 5 course dessert menu so he had mostly dessert for dinner.

The Washingtonian has the menu posted here, but the prices on the sliders were $7 each, not $6, and I'm pretty sure the mac and cheese was also $7 each. And for those keeping track of bathrooms, you can see into the men's restroom through a glass window as you walk by, and the women's restroom right across the hall from the men's restroom has a mirror reflecting the men's restroom so at the start I wasn't quite sure what I was seeing when I was looking in any direction.

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Against my better judgement (I'm still dealing with this cough), I went to CoCo Sala with a few friends Friday night. I say that because I drank too much, and ate perhaps too little, and still have this #%$& cough. Two of us ate, two had already had dinner and just met us for drinks.

First off, the space is gorgeous. Really lavish and full of ambiance. The banquettes in the room away from the door look super cozy in an "anyone wanna make out?" kind of way. There's a lot of chocolate brown (get it?) and deep red. My friends liked the loop of chocolate images that ran on the flat screen behind the bar, but I got tired of it pretty quickly. YMMV.

Although the owners* easily could have made CoCo Sala more lounge than restaurant, the food we sampled was really tasty (if pricey). I loved the bacon mac & cheese with the aforementioned chocolate covered bacon. It worked for me, I think, because the chocolate was dark and not exceedingly sweet. The beef slider I had was really delicious. Although the bartender did not ask how I wanted it (nor did she ask my friend, who also got a beef slider), it came out just right. Juicy and really good flavor. To me, it did not have a strong blue cheese taste, which would have been fine with me, but I'm sharing that info in case the blue cheese scares off some would-be customers.

My friend had the goat cheese and beet salad which I didn't taste, while I had the tiny, but delicious arugula and manchego salad. Beyond the teeny size, if I had a complaint it would be that the dressing wasn't evenly distributed. Still, I enjoyed the salad which featured lots of small bits of apple and other fruit.

Desserts are...completely overwhelming. As cheezepowder noted, you can order one of five dessert tasting menus for $30 or choose the main dessert from those five tasting menus for $12. There are also hot chocolate samplers and other desserts like gelato on the back page of the menu. My friend had the spicy chocolate souffle which was a bit hit. My dessert from the co co grown up selection was interesting, and included several components, perhaps too many. I loved the malted shooter, but the flavors of the bananas foster (usually a favorite) part weren't quite right to me. The cupcake was on the dry side.

We drank...a lot. I sampled one of the signature cocktails which was essentially a take on a mudslide (a guilty pleasure, awfully sweet, good for dessert) before moving to a sauvignon blanc by the glass.

I left at least an hour before the rest of my group and I don't even want to think about the bill. My portion with 20% tip was just shy of $70. The bartender did not comp us any drinks at all which is either a solid business practice or damn cold.

* In the interest of full disclosure, co-owner Bharet Malhotra is a friend of mine.

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Anyone tried the newly opened Co Co. Sala on F St NW? A huge amount of financing has gone into this space - a bar from Italy, mosaics, gas fired flames on the room dividers. Desserts and chocolates are beautiful. Of the 5 different dessert tasting menus we tried, the Italian Voyage is the least interesting. In each we were more excited by the savory elements - in the Aztec Experience an excellent enchilada with guava sauce which was more like a cube of membrillo. The chef is tackling everything from entrees like mac 'n cheese three ways to the desserts and chocolates. Hope he doesn't wear out...

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Went last week for a few bites and dessert. Had the bacon mac&cheese (with chocolate covered bacon - even better than Vosges bacon in a chocolate bar) and the swordfish slider. I would say both were above average in taste, and definitely on the smaller side.

We then did the 5 course Aztec dessert flight - the details of all 5 escape me now, but out of the 5 I would say about 2 were wows, 2 were good, and 1 was meh.

Finally we did a 3-flight of the hot chocolate - this I would definitely recommend. Not quite as thick as say the european style hot chocolate at Jacques Torres, but almost as rich. The ducle de leche was spot on if that's your thing.

Overall I would say they are on the right track here - a few tweaks here and there perhaps, but regardless CoCo Sala fits the bill for the dessert bar that DC desperately needed.

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I'm going here tonight for "dinner" to indulge my sweet tooth. I've read a bunch that the non-dessert apps are tiny, but haven't read anything about the size of the 3-4 course chocolate tasting menus. Any idea on how big they are - really one person or suitable for sharing? Also, any good dish recommendations besides the mac & cheese (which everyone seems to like)?

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I went to CoCo Sala with a friend and we both got 2 savory appetizers (a slider each and a cheese dish). We then went on to get a chocolate/dessert tasting menu. This was an insane amount of food....delicious..but A LOT! We should have probably shared 1 dessert tasting menu but we wanted to try a bunch of stuff and we were there for a celebration. That being said...everything was really delicious---even the savory items.

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Thanks for the tips. We had a really good, chocolate-caffiene buzz inducing time last night. All of the dishes are presented so carefully and beautifully - many formed into cubes or other molded shapes. My wife started the manchego and apple salad (which surprisingly comes out as a small cube) which was delicious - it also had some nuts and citrus in it. Even though you couldn't really taste the small dab of coffee vinagrette on the side, the juicy fruit managed to dress the salad nicely. I started with the tandoori chicken slider which was really tasty - a cute little bun flecked with mint? and other spices and the burger itself had some spicy kick to it. We shared the "classic" mac and cheese which was good and I'd get it again, but not as good as the salad or slider. It was creamy in the center, but alittle dry on the edges because it is put in a savory pastry dough round. Overall, we were very impressed with the savory apps and would go back again just for them if we were nearby.

Then we decided to really indulge and each got one of the chocolate tasting menus. I had the Aztec and my wife had the American/Childhood favs. I think overall the childhood favs was better, because it had more components that were excellent, but the Aztec was still good. The best parts of the Aztec were the amuse of super, maybe too delicate cinnamon dusted churros and awesome dulce de leche dipping/pouring sauce, the chipolte? truffle chocolate piece, and the nice lighter ending. My only complaint about the churros is that they are so delicate they likely will break in your hands and they kind of fall apart with the viscous dipping sauce - but if you don't mind being a bit messy they are great (and you can order them separately too). The Aztec main course was only so so - the fiery chocolate souffle was too spicy for me in that it kind of killed my taste buds for a bit and the coffee ice cream was good (but I'm not a big coffee fan). The ending of a lighter powdered sugared mexican wedding cookie and the very different chocolate-horchata drink was very nice. Unlike the other other childhood favs menu, the Aztec's end feels like a nice finish - not just a ton more decadence. The other really interesting thing about the horchata drink is that it comes with a white chocolate stick crusted with sesame seeds which is a really different and good combo.

The highlights of the childhood favs was the main course. The best part was the mini bananas foster - probably the best thing of all that we ate. The coolest and equally tasty part was the cube of lightly peanut butter-flavored ice cream that they formed into a cube on top of a thin layer of cap and managed somehow to coat only the right side of the cube in chocolate sauce that clung to the cube (it didn't slip off into a pool like normal). The malted shooter was also good. The mini cupcake while looking stunning with its elaborate icing/dark chocolate leaves, wasn't the best cake and was the the weakest part of the dessert. The amuse was only so so and the ending was good - but too rich and the flavor combos were pronounced in not the best way. The ending is mint ice cream in a chocolate covered cone standing in a bed of chocolate chips. This was good, but the mint tasted like a bunch of fresh mint leaves - which may sound refreshing, but it was a bit overpowering. Don't get me wrong we still ate it up. The other part of the ending was a strawberry cheesecake lollypop coated with sugar and pop rocks. While the pop rocks were fun and worked, the cheesecake itself was so so and we never tasted the strawberry.

Overall, really good, really decadent and while at the end we were pretty full (this was our dinner) - I think we ordered the right amount. The portions are a bit odd here and worth asking your server about. The main course of the italian tasting menu is 3 small glasses of tiramisu which looked really filling and while most of the apps are pretty small/tiny a few are much larger. The table next to us got the portabella flatbread which was more like a normal app serving in other restaurants and probably double the side of most of the other co co sala apps. The duck salad also looked about 1.5 times larger.

My only real gripe is that the bathrooms will give you vertigo. First, finding how to get into them is confusing, then there are so many mirrors and windows that I got a bit dizzy.

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NYE ???

Going there on NYE (yeah, yeah I know!), but hey I put in the time working NYE for many years, and I love this holiday! Anyway I have res. and I just was called today that they are doing a 7-course menu for $125pp... Since I haven't seen that menu or really know what other "entertainment" may be happening, I am wondering about the value, especially compared to the regular menu. When asking about the menu I was told that they would have foie gras (um..okay great, but that doesn't really tell me much...). I am pretty sure no wine is included. Perhaps a comp glass of champagne (and I know from my own exp. no restaurant in their right mind will be serving a comp glass of GREAT champ, but I totally understand that). Anyway if you have thoughts, or hear about the NYE event here, please post!

Thanks!!!

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NYE ???

Going there on NYE (yeah, yeah I know!), but hey I put in the time working NYE for many years, and I love this holiday! Anyway I have res. and I just was called today that they are doing a 7-course menu for $125pp... Since I haven't seen that menu or really know what other "entertainment" may be happening, I am wondering about the value, especially compared to the regular menu. When asking about the menu I was told that they would have foie gras (um..okay great, but that doesn't really tell me much...). I am pretty sure no wine is included. Perhaps a comp glass of champagne (and I know from my own exp. no restaurant in their right mind will be serving a comp glass of GREAT champ, but I totally understand that). Anyway if you have thoughts, or hear about the NYE event here, please post!

Thanks!!!

I imagine they will be adjusting the size of their dishes for a 7-course menu. When I went with my friend we had a wonderful time but were stuffed by the end. We each ordered a slider and a cheese course then against our better judgement we both separately ordered the dessert tasting menu which was 3-4courses. Small but not that small. I'm not 100% sure what our final bill was but all that food plus 2 drinks for her and 1 drink for me came to roughly $125 for the whole meal.

Personally I would try to get a menu from them before committing to anything--but that's just me.

And in terms of the wine/champagne: I think one of the best things about CoCo Sala is their mixed drinks. So I would even possibly take the free champagne then try some of their fun drinks. They might even make a drink to go along with each course, they are quite creative there.

This actually seems like a fun place for New Years. The food is really good and they are sure to have a dj or something going on, so after you finish your meal you can just more over to the bar for the rest of the night's festivities.

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After asking for recommendations for dessert placeshere, I ended up making a reservation at Co Co Sala. This is where I state that I have become a pickier eater these days due to my stress levels leading to reflux issues. This means that I can't handle foods containing items from the garlic and onion families, as well as a few other things. This also means that I always ask before ordering, whether the foods ordered will contain those things. Having said all those, you can probably now guess that I probably didn't end up ordering dessert. Since it was supposed to be just the two of us, it ended up expanding to four people, including the professor from a very interesting Human Rights lecture, and everyone hadn't eaten dinner yet.

The highlights: The restaurant was very, very gracious in changing the reservation from two to four to accommodate us. The salted caramel hot chocolate was very rich and also too sweet for me, but would satisfy many a sweet tooth very well.

The noisy lowlight: There was a Roll Call party that made the place very loud and nearly impossible to converse at all, given where we were seated.

We all ended up ordering one of the variations of Mac and Cheese. Before I ordered, I asked our server if there were any onions in the Bacon Mac and Cheese, and she replied that there were none. After it arrived, I saw that the top was loaded with chives. From the onion family. I could have picked it off, but there were a lot, so I asked the server if the kitchen could just brush it off and then send it back. Instead, she said the kitchen would make a new one. I hate sending food back and I was really hungry. But she insisted and I relented. I think that was my bad.

Especially since I waited another ten minutes before the "new one" was brought out. By then, everyone else had finished, as for those who have not been there, these portions are small bowl portions. By then, I was famished. Not wise enough to order something in between, but also engaged in conversation and picking the professor's brain, I was distracted. So, I happily dug in, took two or three bites and then...stopped. Stopped because the macroni and cheese was lukewarm, it lacked flavor, but also, there chives, or what I thought were chives again. To me, it looked like the kitchen turned the macaroni in to fold the chives away, reheated it slightly, and put more bacon bits on top.

Granted, the lighting in there is not great, and I say that because the server said that it was cilantro bits (but only the stem??) in the macaroni and cheese and that I was mistaken. It may very well be that I was mistaken, as I've never put cilantro in macaroni and cheese, so that may have been the case. I still can't figure it out. But I was just unhappy because this means I didn't really eat and when I tried to order something else, she said that the kitchen was already closed.

Our server did take the dish charge off our bill, but I also saw her parade the dish around to various folks in the restaurant to ask them whether it was chives or not. I felt a bit put off by the whole experience, even though she did take the dish off, I felt that she didn't believe me, she could have checked with the kitchen or made a note on our check to not put onions in there, and she didn't tell us that the kitchen was closing for a last chance to order something.

Everyone else seemed to enjoy their meal. Should I have done something different? I mean, while I'm glad she remedied this, I also am feeling a bit like they could have handled it better.

ETA: Should the server have told us that the kitchen was about to close??

Signed,

Co Confused.

Edited by goodeats
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For lunch today I enjoyed a starter of tomato salad with basil and mozzarella. It was very good except it had crunchy fried things on top which added crunch, but not much else. I followed that with the spinach and feta tart accompanied by shrimp. This dish was a real winner. The shrimp were cooked to perfection...not a second over done. The tart was flaky and fantastic. It was topped with just enough capers and olives to give it interest. My favorite part was the sauce under the shrimp. It was a slightly creamy, curry-ish, dill thing. Oh. So. Good.

I finished with a scoop of gelatto (dark chocolate flavored). I really wanted hazelnut but they were out. No matter, I was pleased with what I had.

Some of the criticisms above concern the size of food and the service. The food IS small and very pretty but I felt that it was an appropriate size for lunch. I"m back at work and I don't feel tired!

The service was slow. Lunch was 2-hours long and there were quite a few times when we were looking for the server.

This is probably worth mentioning: The person I dinned with was the only man in the restaurant for the entire two hours except a couple of staff people. I thought that was funny for a small-food, chocolate-based restaurant.

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We did a "going away lunch" in honor of our intern. We had an early reservation at 11:30 and by the time we left a little after 1 pm, the place was hopping. Service was a little slow, but we learned it was our server's first day and we were his first table. Considering that, there were no real issues. Our only real complaint is that sitting in the low banquette's for a "working lunch" is a little uncomfortable. I think we would have preferred the dining room over the lounge area. They have a $19 price fixe lunch that is a pretty good deal. You get a salad, savory dish and dessert. Everyone was very happy with their food both in terms of taste and presentation. Desserts were the high point of the meal. Notably, everyone really enjoyed the chocolate covered bacon and the peanut butter hot chocolate got rave reviews. We'll be back.

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it is one of my favorite restaurant in DC.

I went there several time and each time I get salads which are perfectly seaoned and small plate which shows a lot of attention and talent.

The dessert are beautiful.

It is agreat concept and the execution in the kitchen is great.

Foe me one of the greatest quality of arestaurant is consistency and Coco Sla is one of the few consistent restaruant in Washington DC .

GREAT JOB

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“Remember, brunch is only served once a week - on the weekends. Cooks hate brunch. Brunch is punishment block for the B-Team cooks, or where the farm team of recent dishwashers learn their chops.”

-Anthony Bourdain

Road rashed my way into Coco Sala today, dragged by an enthusiastic friend who craved exploring the “chocolate brunch” menu. To be fair, I arrived with low expectations. I anticipated token weavings of cacao through visually adorable, but ultimately lackluster food. I predicted caring, but unfortunately absent-minded service. A self-fulfilling prophecy, perhaps. But my expectations manifested fully intact throughout today’s dining experience.

Water service arrived a good ten minutes after we were seated. After finishing our first bottle of sparkling water towards the end of the meal, the waiter asked at least three times if we’d like another. The time between main course and dessert was about fifteen minutes longer than it should have been in the busy dining room.

The amuse wasn’t. Arriving in an interesting white wave plate with a hollowed center, the fried chocolate dough ball with cinnamon and chocolate/caramel sauce wanted desperately to evoke churros y chocolate. But it was void of the spirit and fun. Served warm, I imagine it’s a crowd pleaser, but all that sugar as first bite is a palate-killer.

The crab cake main course arrived, fried, mostly seasonless, and the crab edging too closely to the realm of textureless. Adjacent micro-dice mango relish was mango in color only, no discernable fruity flavor. The tomato/chocolate and cilantro/avocado sauce swipes brought only confusion, not deepening flavor, to the dish. Arugula salad leaves tasted bright and fresh, but too often muted by an overly soft-spoken Manchego cheese and uninteresting vinaigrette.

Dessert, peanut butter cheesecake for me and the salted caramel mousse for my friend (the Onyx), was by far the most successful course.

If the bathrooms were anymore annoying, confusing, and over-engineered, I’d need a GPS and thieves’ tools to break in. Won’t be a concern, though. Because I don’t plan on returning for brunch, except perhaps for a dessert course to appease a deep-in-withdrawal chocoholic.

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I was surprised to see co-owner Nisha Sidhu and executive chef Santosh Tiptur’s names in the closing credits of the new movie “Today’s Special” [opening today]. I was at a screening earlier in the week for this film adaptation of a one-man play and stayed to see the music credits. Their restaurant’s name was compressed to “Cocosala`” and it took a minute blink back to this restaurant. They are credited as "consultants" to the film.

Movie-wise, I agree with Roger Ebert and found the movie enjoyable with flashes of food porn and a well-traveled plot.

Now I just need to make my first visit to Co Co Sala and see what they're serving as Today's Special.

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So, I purposely didn't look for a TS review or read anything on DR about Co Co Sala before making a first visit tonight. Somehow it has escaped me since opening however long ago. And, I think I also neglected it because I'd confused it with another downtown chocolate-oriented spot that had underwhelmed me. Some friends of ours invited us for dinner tonight so off we went.

Headline/Summary:

Boo Hiss. Reasonably priced but not so great value. Issues and annoyances way outweighed a smaller number of redeeming qualities. Sigh...why, why, why (rhetorical)

Love chocolate but I've found over the years that big-city places that emphasize it tend to expect crowds irrespective of the quality of what they're doing with it. Sometimes they succeed anyway and I think CCS may well be a financial success. But Co Co Sala is more marketing than substance for me; another disappointing chocolate restaurant. Every city seems to have one. Some cities (including DC) have at least two. Sure signs of this affliction include an over emphasis on art at the expense of flavor, a space too trendy and cool for its own good and a chef who does it all rather than focusing on whatever (savory or pastry) he/she is best at. In defense of CCS, I'm not sure I've ever come across a chocolate oriented restaurant that successfully executed a full slate of savory and pastry dishes. Have liked dessert-only spots like Finale in Boston or French Broad Chocolate in Asheville, NC. And, of course, many great non-chocolate-centric restaurants (usually with talented pastry chefs) offer amazingly wonderful chocolate desserts but...back to CCS...

Venue

We'd booked on OpenTable and, on arrival, they showed us to a table in the bar area. Our friends, who'd been there before, immediately asked to be moved to a back dining room but were declined outright. This didn't mean too much to the two of us who were first-timers...until about 5 minutes after sitting until we left when the noise levels were freakin' intolerable. I've always thought it interesting but not so relevant to me personally that Tom Sietsema publishes decibel levels with his reviews. Noise rarely bothers me. But it bothered all of us hugely here. It's in large part a design problem. The interior (kind of like the food incidentally) is all about image and coolness rather than facilitating quality interaction between guests. Customers at the bar had to scream to be heard. Music was way too loud. It was virtually impossible to talk and we left somewhat exhausted and stressed out for this reason alone. It was oddly relaxing and liberating, in a deserted-high-altitude-impossibly-beautiful-mountain-meadow kind of way, to step out onto the 85-degree city sidewalk once the door closed behind us.

Service

Service was generally good, especially when considered in contrast to the venue and to the food. Our waitress was very cheery and professional. Water glasses weren't always kept full and two courses (mine) were delivered at the same time but those two issues were relatively minor and outweighed by generally professional and efficient service.

Food

For me, the most important category anywhere and, for that reason, disappointing here. IMHO, Co Co Sala is a classic example of a kitchen more focused on "creativity" and "artistry" than deliciousness and flavor. The food and some associated policy (more to follow) almost convey arrogance as unintentional as I'm sure that is. More specifically, a partial list of what we had included:

- Tuna tartar ($12) "yellow fin tuna / zesty herb dressing / crispy shallots" - in addition to the menu description, there were also sweet circular sesame crackers atop the short cylindrical mounds of cilantro laced tuna. Some type of white sauce swipe on the plate and a greenish "pepper" (according to the waitress; also seemed to have cilantro in it) sauce in a too-cute side porcelain pourer. The fish itself was fine but nothing special in terms of fat content or flavor. Too much going on with the dish--consistent theme at CCS.

- Artichoke tart ($10) "creamy hearts of artichoke / tomato confit / truffle & tarragon vinaigrette" - Like most things on the menu, this read much better than it tasted. Served with a simple arugula salad with a few thin cheese shavings (maybe non Reggiano parmesan?). The tart itself was cheesy (maybe that was the ambiguous "creamy" part?) and, while the vegetable itself could be discerned, this was basically a 'baked pastry cheesy thing' (BPCT). Meh.

- Trio of lamb sliders ($18) "curry & coconut organic lamb / zesty potatoes & green peas /lime yogurt crème / rosemary & parmesan fries" - for those counting, this dish has about 7 listed ingredients (not including the fries) and at least two others packed into what was served.. Translating, we were served three 'sliders' that were mostly too-cute (yet paradoxically too large) mini buns with mashed potatoes and small bits of lamb hidden deep within everything else. Way too much going on in this dish with the small bits of lamb overwhelmed by more essences and bits of herb, veggie and dairy than one might find in a decently-stocked neighborhood farmers' market. Oh, and the potato. Probably the least successful dish served.

- Trio beef sliders ($18) "meyer angus / co co. mole sauce /rosemary & parmesan fries" - my SO had this and pronounced it solidly meh. Like the lamb sliders, big on the bread, sauce and filling relative to the beef. Maybe a bit better than the lamb sliders but very forgettable. Fries were served in large quantities relative to proteins; fine but nothing special.

Our friends ordered desserts ("raspberry affair" ($10) and "chocolate seduction" ($12)) but didn't really comment on them and we didn't ask (partly due to the deafening noise level). I didn't order any dessert because, despite it being a chocolate concept, there were only 5 or 6 options, I was fairly annoyed by this point, and none really appealed anyway. Like the food, most were very complex with lots of ingredients and, at least judging by the two that were brought to our table, beautiful to look at. They did offer a "churros for two" at $9 that I'd have liked to have tried. But, with noone else interested, I asked if they'd sell me a single churro (since I was told they were large) and the waitress responded immediately with "no, they don't do that." Right, of course they don't, I thought but didn't say.

Beverage

We didn't order any cocktails but they did look interesting on the menu. Maybe more bark than bite like the dishes or maybe a standout about which I can't comment. The bar was crowded. Only a 6-bottle red wine list though...for a chocolate and full menu restaurant?

Value

To me, CCS is a wonderful illustration of why price and value aren't the same thing. We ordered a bottle of wine (a New Zealand Cab called "Cupcake" ($40)) and each member of our party of four had three courses. Total with tax just over $220. That's a great price! But it wasn't a good value simply because we didn't enjoy it and unlikely we'd go back (absent big changes)--whatever the price.

The place was busy. I guess there's a market for this; I'm just not it. It's a scene. Most of the dishes oddly reminded me of Zsa Zsa Gabor's "you look mahvelous dahling" line. Likewise the decor, lighting and even the website with tabs like "sips and bites" (too cute) and "Co Co Sala Concept" (which I thought might offer some of the driving philosophy but, instead, includes information about the architects who created such a "chic" space, "provocative atmosphere" and, my personal favorite, a "euphoric night scene." C'mon, can't I just get a great piece of fish, seriously tasty beef or a life-changing slice 'o chocolate cake? Nah--too simple.

Final thought in closing about CCS.

Many restaurants push ahead with just a savory chef/owner because they can't justify the expense of a pastry chef or for other reasons, don't want one. Often--but not always--that yields better food than desserts. Case in point: Palena's pastry mesozoic era between Ann Amernick and Aggie Chin. CCS is the opposite from what I understand. Here is a place with a pastry chef who's also doing all the savories. I'd love to see what would happen if CCS brought in a great executive chef for the food and then made some modifications on menu for the desserts to better emphasize flavor in balance with the visuals; to better balance the current chef's penchant for artistry with the kinds of flavors about which more diners might rave. But, my sense is that's unlikely to happen.

[Edits after reading the thread preceding my post:

- Wow, really, really glad I didn't try to find or use the bathrooms (per KMango's description). That might have sent me running for the exits....if I could find them.

- Note to self: always, always review DR.com before trying a new place; at least for awareness and to lessen any shock that might otherwise ensue (i.e., I'm certain we were at the same table as GoodEats given the noise described...except that probably wasn't due to the one-off "Roll Call party" she imagined it was)

- Best line above, hands down? KMango's "the amuse wasn't" Love that but, then again, the hour is late so maybe my humor antenna is off?

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Maybe because we are DINCs happy to go out to eat just about anywhere anytime with a flexible attitude toward evenly splitting the bill we get suckered into eating places we might not normally chose to go. Case in point last night we ended up celebrating a friend’s birthday over dinner at Co Co Sala. Having been there for drinks, brunch, lunch (when they had it), midafternoon hot chocolate fix, happy hour, and late night drinks/dessert I wasn’t averse to trying the place for dinner but I wasn't exactly thrilled about it either.

Bottom line- the savory food is fine but not standout. The entire menu is tapas-sized portions; we ended up ordering two or three per person to make a meal. It is really just an excuse some people need to go there for what is really the star of the show which is the chocolate. Save room for dessert by skipping it entirely.

While they still offer a three or five course dessert flight, gone are the themed flights from when they first opened several years ago. The desserts, hot chocolate and dessert cocktails are what make the restaurant really fun and really stand out. But be sure to have a reservation because the place turns into a bit of a scene at night.

FWIW: I actually really like their brunch. They are offering their regular $26 brunch menu for $20 during Restaurant Week which is a good deal.

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