6.10.2008

Co Co. Sala



I have been so excited for the opening of Co Co. Sala since I first read about it in the paper. It was going to be DCs first dessert bar. NY already has so many, so it’s about time that DC picked up on the trend. I was also excited because Nisha Sidhu, a former graduate of L’Academie de Cuisine (where I currently attend classes) and former chocolatier at 2941, is the executive pastry chef. From what I had read about Co Co. Sala, I truly felt that this was going to be my haven, as every detail was so “me”..the chocolate, desserts, fancy cocktails, tapas, ambiance… could it really be true? Co Co. Sala was suppose to open back on Valentine’s Day, and didn’t actually open till the first week of May (just in time for my bday!!). So, without my knowledge, Neil planned my 30th bday surprise there with 20 of my closest family and friends.

When we arrived, I was delighted to meet one of the owners, Bharet, Nisha (pastry chef), and even the executive chef (forgot his name). They were incredibly nice, welcoming, and I could feel the passion they had for their baby, Co Co. Sala. It was very inspirational. They set us up with a nice loungy area for our party to dine in. They even made me a personalized bday card, which was a very nice touch. The owner was also sure to walk by all night to make sure our party was okay. Kudos for that!

The concept is genius, and the venue absolutely sexy, stunning, and striking… very NY. There are fancy chandeliers, appetizing and romantic colors (reds and browns), an open pastry kitchen, sugar sculptures (made by Nisha herself), even TVs at the bar that show enticing chocolate images. I don’t think I’ve seen a prettier, sexier space in DC. Check it out for that alone, because my description does not do it justice!

The food can be described as trendy and innovative (maybe a little too innovative at times). There’s a heavy focus on chocolate and spice. In fact I think you can find something chocolate in almost everything you order. The chocolate didn’t always compliment, but it was subtle enough. They have a selection of fun tapas (macaroni, sliders, salads, and crabcakes) as the savory items. But, the main course is really the dessert flights. There are 4 types of dessert flights each having 5 courses (Aztec, Grown Up, Italian, Indian) for $30. You can also order a la carte or choose a 3 course dessert flight. Take a look at the menu online. Each of the dessert flights also includes a cheese course (very cool!!). It’s almost impossible to decide which flight to choose.

So, how did our group of 20 find the food? Overall, everyone enjoyed it. I have to admit that I personally enjoyed the flavors in the savory tapas more than the dessert flights though. The spicy shrimp macaroni was delicious, as were the swordfish and blue cheese burger sliders. I also tried the tandoori chicken sliders, bacon macaroni with chocolate coated bacon, goat cheese & beet salad, mini pepper cheese enchilada, and crab cakes w/ coffee crème fraiche. Each one had eclectic ingredients mixed in to it, giving it a unique flavor. Are they to rave about?..No, but, they are satisfying nibbles in such a beautiful atmosphere. The tapas are portioned very small @ $7 each, but they were pretty filling. If I had to pick my favorite savory item, it would be the mini enchilada (which is actually a cheese course in the Aztec dessert flight). The flavors of the spice, fruit, cheese all packed in a tortilla was delish.

On to the desserts: The dessert flights make you feel like a kid in a candy store, and it’s an experience to be had for sure. Again, just read the menu, and your mouth will water. Desserts are supposed to the main event, and conceptually and visually it does not disappoint. Each dessert course is presented so artistically with fun, whimsical accompaniments. I chose the “Co Co. Grown Up” flight consisting of a number of nostalgic childhood desserts from boston cream donuts to cupcakes. We all had different themes. So, I got to sample some from the Aztec and Italian flights as well. I was very impressed by the presentation and thought process that went into the dessert pairings/themes. However, some of the flavors didn’t completely deliver. Some flavors were a bit exaggerated, and had they not been, the dessert would have been almost flawless. For example, the chocolate soufflé w/ the “fiery” center was so spicy in the throat that I couldn’t take another bite. The spice was too overwhelming. The chocolate, peanut butter and banana split was overwhelmed by the taste of peanut butter. The mint chocolate chip cone was so herby and minty that I couldn’t enjoy the chocolate. I really feel that all these desserts would have been perfect had the “key” flavor not been exaggerated. Don’t get me wrong, we did have some other mouth-watering desserts. The churros with cinnamon cream dipping sauce melted in your mouth, and the texture was perfect. There were a lot of fun “shooters” that came with the different flights too that were delicious. The pop rock cheesecake was a party on my tongue and perfect consistency to the cheesecake too. After the dessert coma, Co Co. Sala even presented everyone in our party with peanut butter jelly shooters for my birthday. They were super cool (even though I don’t like PBJs).

Co Co. Sala has almost as many eclectic cocktails as it has desserts. Prices are steep at $13 a drink, but worth it. I wish I had the tolerance to try more than just two, but the two I tried were amazing. I had the Cocojito made w/ chocolate vodka, fresh mint and chocolate shavings. How can you go wrong with chocolate and mint in a drink? It was awesome! The owner also gave me a shot of coffee flavored Petron tequila for my bday. That was divine and went down nicely…I was sipping on it though (can’t do shots).

Service was very spotty, from missing silverware to drink orders. We had one waitress, and she was very overwhelmed. I can’t really fault the restaurant though. They are brand new, and all of a sudden have a party of 20 people! Had Neil included me in the birthday plans, I wouldn’t have chosen Co Co. Sala, b/c I like to give restaurants a little time to work out their kinks. Nonetheless, I was thrilled to ring in my bday at such a unique venue.

By the end of our evening ,the place got packed with the young, attractive, and trendy. It seems like Co Co. Sala is trying to do it all. I hope that they keep the emphasis going on the food and desserts though instead of “after hours”. I think this place will only get better. Some kinks need to be ironed out, but I’m confident, they will be. The owner told us that they plan to expand the restaurant to have a full dining menu and seating. I’m definitely interested in checking that out!

This place is definitely worth a visit! There’s nothing like it in DC. If it’s your first time, experiencing a dessert flight is a must. I definitely plan to go back, this time to sample more cocktails, and a la carte desserts. Did I mention they also have hot chocolate flights?

Co Co. Sala
929 F Street NW
Washington DC 20004
202.347.4265