Coco Restaurant is the type of restaurant concept I loved to see in the halal dining scene. It features a dry bar fine-dining concept, serving contemporary Anatolian cuisine and a sophisticated range of non-alcoholic drinks. It’s not just about mocktails but the likes of non-alcoholic martinis, halal wines, halal champagne, mixers, and more. To top it off, they’re located just by the river and Tower Bridge, offering a spectacular view of the Thames and you really can’t get a more iconic view than this.
The terrace looked really nice from the outside. However, we were told it’s not open on the day when we visited. We ended up settling for a table inside the restaurant instead. The interiors seem to go for that dark-and-gold seductive style, showcasing plush velvet chairs, dark carpets, and marbled tabletops. There were a few decors around such as neon lights writing “in love with coco”, fake cherry blossom trees, etc.
Coco Restaurant: trying too hard?
In our opinion, we felt some parts were a bit too random with too much going on, and perhaps even trying a little too hard. Additionally, the music playing in the background was rather eccentric – more of techno music that’s far too loud for a restaurant. Not only was it an odd choice of music, but it also made the ambience plenty more confusing and even disturbing. Was it supposed to be a fine-dining experience? A chilled lounge? Or was it rather more bar or even nightclub-like atmosphere? There was just way too many things going on mismatching one another.
The Food: What We Ordered
Anyhow, moving on to the food and drinks. As mentioned, food-wise, the menu features contemporary Anatolian cuisine, offering the likes of mixed grills, steak and burger, and a couple of starters. The drinks menu was certainly the main spotlight with a whole page full of options – just like a wine list/cocktail menu at other restaurants but all halal! Here is what we tried out:
Crispy Spiced Shrimp (£13)
A little liquid smoke adds so much drama to the table and definitely gives a wow element to the dining experience. The smoky effects did not disappoint but food-wise we felt it actually fell short. Whilst the shrimp was crispy on the outside, the quality was merely mediocre. It’s supposed to have a Korean glaze and the sauce supposedly a grapefruit mayo. There was a mild sweet and sour flavour but, overall, nothing outstanding that matches with all that dramatic presentation.
Sumac Boneless Chicken Wings (£10)
Again, this starter also came with stunning liquid smoke effects. It’s an interesting one for this one. Essentially, it’s confit wings with sumac and lemon, but with bones removed and its meat turned into a breaded croquette. There’s definitely an intrigue on my end as I bite into the crispy croquette but to be experiencing all the flavours and texture of a chicken wing. The other half, however, didn’t like it. Whilst it’s interesting, I wouldn’t say I find it particularly spectacular and nothing wowing to the palate.
Coco Burger (£18)
The Coco Burger comes with a black charcoal bun with the option of choosing beef or chicken patty – we went with beef. It is then loaded with Gruyere cheese, iceberg lettuce, truffle mayo, caramelised mushrooms, mayo, crispy onions. A side of skin-on fries is also served together.
Despite a nice presentation, the burger was rather average at best. Nothing special and not quite worth the price for what it is. I think we have enough mediocre self-proclaimed gourmet burgers on the market and don’t need more! With a near £20-price tag, one would expect a stellar burger, not an average-at-best quality burger.
Coco Rice (£4)
The Coco Rice immediately caught my attention on the menu as it features the use of lemongrass, coconut, soy sauce, and crispy onions. These are ingredients that absolutely tick the boxes for me and it certainly did the job for me.
It was a careful balance of flavours featuring a little savoury umami edge from the soy sauce, a little tinge of sweetness from the coconut, a lovely fragrance from the lemongrass, and at last, the extra texture from the crispy onions and a bit of burnt rice. For the small selection of dishes we tried at Coco Restaurant, this one’s my favourite.
Espresso Martini (£12.50)
I used to hear so much about Espresso Martinis in the office and have always been intrigued with the concept. The idea of jazzing up coffee into a dessert drink sounded right up my street. With a halal version, the Espresso Martini is made with non-alcoholic Espresso spirit, cold coffee, plus a touch of vanilla and garnished with coffee beans.
It is recommended on the menu that it is a post-meal drink but we ordered it beforehand. I had a bit before actually eating something, and then finished the rest after. What I found interesting is how the flavours changed pre and post-meal. It wasn’t any standout flavour pre-meal but the flavours really shone through post-meal especially the way the vanilla sweetness laced with the acidity from the coffee. The caffeine wasn’t strong so don’t worry about it keeping you up at night!
Amaretto Sour (£12.50)
Likewise, with the Amaretto Sour, it was two different experiences when having a taste of it pre and post-meal. The tarty and citrusy touch of the drink started to develop more after the meal. Not the biggest fan of it but it definitely wins at the presentation.
The Dakari’s a non-alcoholic version of a classic Daiquiri. A blend of lime and sugar (white cane in this case) is guaranteed to make one refreshing drink. They’ve also added butterfly pea into it which gave a pretty purplish hue to the drink and a touch of bubbles as well. Not too sure about the glace cherry on top though as it felt irrelevant?
Restaurant Review Summary
We feel the concept at Coco Restaurant, especially on the drinks part, is great. However, the vibe and atmosphere were overdone and the food was merely average. As much as we liked the theatrical liquid smoke effect, the actual food left us feeling rather underwhelmed. All in all, Coco Restaurant certainly has its potential but would need far more refining to be that game-changing restaurant on the market.
Everything is halal at Coco Restaurant
Nearest station: Tower Bridge / London Bridge