MOBILE USERS: m.isthmus.com
Connect with Isthmus:         Newsletters 
Saturday, October 25, 2014 |  Madison, WI: 56.0° F  Fair
Collapse Photo Bar

Cocoliquot

Where are you eating and what do you think? What's opening, closing, succeeding, failing?

Cocoliquot

Postby Thusnelda » Wed Feb 22, 2006 12:15 am

I could be mistaken, but I hadn't seen any review in the forum. I thought I'd share my experience going for dessert last weekend.

We'd walked a few blocks to Brocach for a late Valentine's dinner because we didn't want to go all-out and it was also freakin' cold. A friend of mine had raved about Cocoliquot's desserts and brunches. I'd Googled for them but couldn't find any info re: prices, so we thought it best to pass this time for dinner.

We thought we'd head over to the Dane for an ice cream sundae (Ben and Jerry's was in the wrong direction :P) but shortly after 6 PM they were packed like sardines. I'd been telling my husband about Cocoliquot on the walk over, though, and we figured it probably wouldn't be too pricey for dessert. Given that it was our Valentine's dinner anyways, we decided to check it out.

MY GRACIOUS. So warm and nice. The dining room is very open but has several different areas (dinner tables in front and around a nook in the corner, tall cafe tables near the rear, a bar and a long seated bar along the open kitchen). The hosts were very welcoming, as were the waitstaff; even a chef and a waitress who didn't prepare or deliver our food stopped to chat with us. We felt relaxed and happy to be there.

We started with truffles from their onsite chocolatier. They had the great idea of offering about 30 varieties of truffles on a little ordering sheet like sushi; you place a check mark and a number next to any varieties you wanted. We ordered two cardamom truffles; I also got a jasmine pearl truffle while my husband got coconut and rum. They arrived on a little granite block. As expected the cardamom was glorious, strong and distinctive without being overpowering. The jasmine pearl was very interesting, too: it had a base and shell of white chocolate, tasting very mild at first but suddenly exploding into a clear jasmine flavor.

I had a pot of mint tea on the side (Rishi, I believe -- a perfect compliment to both the chocolates and what came after), and then we split two desserts. The first was a green tea cake with ginger mousse. The cake itself was very thin and had been cut into bricks, which were then stacked and topped with a dollop of mousse and a candy/sesame seed ribbon. It was tasty, but I think it would have worked better if either the cake were soaked or the mousse were replaced by ice cream. The overall effect was a little dry.

The other dessert, though, was the real winner. When we'd gone through the menu, I thought we'd get the set of ice creams. However, my husband thought I'd settled on the champagne cake with passionfruit gelee "escargot" and had almost ordered it when I'd gotten back from the coat rack. We settled on the escargot after all, and we were glad we did. It was basically a jelly roll with a very light white cake and the aforementioned gelee (tangy without being cloying, rather like a very solid, smooth jam) rolled up together. What really made it were the tiny candy head and antennae. So very cute! Good thing my husband took the first bite; I don't know if I could hack into our new buddy :)

We also got a chance to check out their dinner menu, and it looked great. They do the "small and large plates" thing, but they also have another category of "assortments" like a cheese platter and charcuterie. Sitting by the open kitchen gave us a wonderful view of everything going out. I don't even eat chicken, but their roasted half chicken looked marrrrrvelous. Same for the hanger steak with frites. The large plate prices hovered around $18, similar to or a little more than the assortments, while the small plate prices ranged from $4 for a generous-looking portion of frites with aioli to $14 for some sort of foie gras dish (they had a couple). In between were truffled mac and cheese, French onion soup (which I'm told is heavenly), shellfish risotto (which looked a little small but then had two whole prawns/langoustines perched on top), escargot (under $10), etc.

Now by that point, of course, our dessert was inching toward the pre-tax price of our dinner. The truffles were small but very flavorful at $2 apiece, maybe 4 for $6, and the desserts something like $6 apiece. Totally worth it. Oddly enough, given the amount of food and the variety of prices, eating dinner there might have only cost a little more than the dinner we had in the first place (though as with Muramoto -- also a great meal of recent memory -- it's easy to rack up the charges when you're splitting multiple dishes of $10 and above).

It'll definitely top our list for the next special occasion or out-of-town visitor.
Thusnelda
Forum God/Goddess
 
Posts: 1106
Joined: Thu Mar 20, 2003 10:30 am

Postby shelly » Wed Feb 22, 2006 9:32 am

Thusnelda, do you ever eat at home?

Your restaurant reviews are fantastic! We went to Cocoliquot recently and I can't remember one tenth of the details that you do. The main gripe I had about the place is that it did not seem comfortable. Too much emphasis on good looking but not enough on functional. We tried to sit at the food preparation bar (not sure what to call it) and three people could not even have a conversation with each other because you could not hear anything. So we moved to a tiny table with those uncomfortable bar stools, and then hardly had any room to put our plates of food.

The frites were awesome though.
shelly
Forum God/Goddess
 
Posts: 675
Joined: Mon Jan 19, 2004 11:10 am

Postby TAsunder » Wed Feb 22, 2006 9:32 am

Didn't even know this place existed. Thanks for the review, will have to check it out once I master the purge part of binge & purge so as not to have a heart attack immediately from the delightful sounding desserts.
TAsunder
Forum God/Goddess
 
Posts: 4783
Joined: Tue Oct 16, 2001 1:21 pm
Location: Near East Side, Madison

Postby mrak » Wed Feb 22, 2006 10:11 am

I like Cocoliquot.

A party of four of us went there on New Year's Eve. We were there early (about 6 or 6:30), because later times had been booked up.

The place has a rep for being expensive, probably because the portions are small and everything's a la carte. But the idea there is to load up your table with a lot of things, and share them. We had a great time doing that, and it wasn't all that pricey.

Among the little dishes we passed around:
* Truffled macaroni and cheese (I'll be getting one of those all for myself next time)
* Lobster risotto (one of the specials that evening)
* Flank steak (cut into strips for easy sharing) with pommes frites
* Still more pommes frites (a fairly generous amount, served with a great, garlicky aioli)
There were a couple more, but I'm having a bit of trouble recalling them all seven weeks later.

So, no, we didn't stuff ourselves on those little portions (sometimes we each only got a couple of bites of one), but we didn't go hungry either.

At one point during our seating, as a New Year's Eve treat, the waitstaff brought all the diners little complimentary shots, some combo of liqueur and Champagne - served in tiny little shot glasses made of chocolate. The idea was to pop the whole thing, contents and all, into your mouth. Very cool.

All of this, plus a few chocolates (1-2 per person) for dessert, and one full bottle plus one split of decent, not-too-fancy wine, brought us to a total of about $130. With tip, each of us dropped $40. The more I think about it, the better a deal I think it was.
mrak
Forum God/Goddess
 
Posts: 2393
Joined: Wed Nov 24, 2004 2:26 pm

Postby Thusnelda » Wed Feb 22, 2006 10:19 am

In answer to your question: no, not really :P

I'm quite capable of cooking, and I come from a family of foodies, but I seem to lack the gene that tells me how and why to whip up something from "what's on hand." My refrigerator usually contains soy milk, yogurt, approximately eighteen kinds of condiments and (currently) a whole bunch of Moosewood frozen pastas with sauce. (They're quite tasty.) My husband and I typically walk home from work, so we stop to eat along the way. Gets a little spendy, but we really don't have junk food in the house and we're pretty frugal everywhere else.

I've got Midwestern home-cooking sensibilities, to be sure, but sometimes I think I should just move to a big city and never eat at home again.

Re: uncomfortable atmosphere -- perhaps it was the cold, but while the restaurant had a decent crowd up front, I think we may have been the only ones at the kitchen bar. Still, I found it to be noticeably quiet...

...which reminds me of the bigmouth yap seated next to us when we went to Muramoto three weeks ago. Am I going to have to write a review of that, too? If I must...
Thusnelda
Forum God/Goddess
 
Posts: 1106
Joined: Thu Mar 20, 2003 10:30 am

Postby Ducatista » Wed Feb 22, 2006 10:33 am

Thusnelda wrote:...which reminds me of the bigmouth yap seated next to us when we went to Muramoto three weeks ago. Am I going to have to write a review of that, too? If I must...

Yes, please!
Ducatista
Forum God/Goddess
 
Posts: 4343
Joined: Fri Mar 05, 2004 12:31 pm
Location: 53703

Postby Penney » Wed Feb 22, 2006 2:46 pm

I had a fabulous meal at Cocoliquot, and in particular, I can't say enough good things about the service. Everyone was really friendly and welcoming, and our server in particular was funny and geuninely warm. Great place!
Penney
Senior Member
 
Posts: 42
Joined: Wed Jan 23, 2002 4:44 pm
Location: too far from my madison home

Postby narcoleptish » Fri Feb 24, 2006 3:08 pm

went there for after dinner drinks and desert. Love the interior and don't remember my seat being uncomfortable. Great service too. Desert however was four bites for 6-7 bucks and I've had better candy bars. Didn't bother to remember what it was. I'll probably eat there eventually although I think ala carte is the worst thing to happen to eating out in the history of eating out.
narcoleptish
Forum God/Goddess
 
Posts: 3630
Joined: Mon Mar 14, 2005 1:35 am

Postby narcoleptish » Fri Feb 24, 2006 3:12 pm

mrak wrote:The place has a rep for being expensive, probably because the portions are small and everything's a la carte. But the idea there is to load up your table with a lot of things, and share them.


Of course that's what the restaurant wants you to think. The real idea is to give you less food for the same or more money.
narcoleptish
Forum God/Goddess
 
Posts: 3630
Joined: Mon Mar 14, 2005 1:35 am

Postby buckyor » Fri Feb 24, 2006 4:10 pm

Cocoliquot is- ok.

First, the pluses. A nice room. I like the open kitchen and the seating overlooking it, kinda like Crescent City used to have. The prices for the small plate selections were relatively affordable. A good selection of wines that were also pretty affordable and quite good for the price. And the waitress we had demonstrated a good understanding of those wines when we asked her for recommendations (all of which were good choices).

The not so good- We waited close to forever to get our wines once we ordered them. I think she had to fly back to France to get them. The food was just ok. I like the small plate dining thing, and I like the reasonable prices, but (except for the french fries) the small plates were really small. And the bite and a half on each plate just wasn't as good as it looked on the menu.

In short, this was like a less-expensive Eno Vino that wasn't as good. I think it's a better place to get a glass of wine than it is to eat (we did not have dessert, which may have changed our perspective somewhat, since they seem to be proud of their chocolate). From the wine viewpoint, it's a damn good value. But not really from the food perspective.
buckyor
Forum God/Goddess
 
Posts: 2328
Joined: Mon May 07, 2001 1:09 pm
Location: Albuquerque, NM

Postby mrak » Fri Feb 24, 2006 4:10 pm

narcoleptish wrote:
mrak wrote:The place has a rep for being expensive, probably because the portions are small and everything's a la carte. But the idea there is to load up your table with a lot of things, and share them.


Of course that's what the restaurant wants you to think. The real idea is to give you less food for the same or more money.

I'm not saying the place is cheap, but I stand by my report above of my New Year's Eve experience: I'm satisfied with the quality and quantity of food - and with the overall experience - for the money.
mrak
Forum God/Goddess
 
Posts: 2393
Joined: Wed Nov 24, 2004 2:26 pm

Postby narcoleptish » Fri Feb 24, 2006 6:00 pm

I wasn't knocking your review, I was just venting about the trend towards ala carte. I mean, come on, throw 50 cents worth of veggies in a bowl and give me a salad. Thank god for the tornado!
narcoleptish
Forum God/Goddess
 
Posts: 3630
Joined: Mon Mar 14, 2005 1:35 am

Postby TAsunder » Tue May 23, 2006 9:45 am

Got takeout from coco on friday. Let me first say that their web site is really annoying. It looks great, but the 30 second flash into and the fact that links pop into new windows are irritating. Plus their menu PDF does not have a phone #.

Anyway the food was great. I decided to take a risk and try the fish, which I usually regret. Not this time. The halibut was really tasty and did not have any of the bottom-of-the-sea flavor that one gets at many places.

The restaurant itself is pretty nice too.

Anyone know how it is doing financially? We were there at noon to pick up our order and there was only one table filled. Seems like a bad sign...
TAsunder
Forum God/Goddess
 
Posts: 4783
Joined: Tue Oct 16, 2001 1:21 pm
Location: Near East Side, Madison

Postby Thusnelda » Tue May 23, 2006 2:03 pm

I wonder what their lunch crowd is like during the week, but they seemed to be doing pretty well for brunch, which we went to with some friends on Sunday. Not being open for Saturday brunch was a disappointment; we weren't the only ones looking sadly at the hours next to the door. Perhaps if they put their hours in a slightly more conspicuous place on their fricking website that might be helpful.

We had a delightful and filling brunch on Sunday, though. Three of us had pots of tea; I found my Magreb Mint wonderful and almost thick with a full taste. My other friend had the hot chocolate; it seemed closer to the Mexican variety than that syrupy stuff they used to have at Starbucks. She liked that qute a bit.

Our choices were each nine dollars and came with a side of our choice included. My husband had the frittata of the day; I'm not sure what was in it, but it must have been good because during the time I was at the ATM up at the Dane the dish was both served and completely eaten. He had the roast beef hash on the side -- very important that it was roast beef and not corned beef, as he can't stand the latter. The cubed beef contrasted nicely with the cubed potatoes and, i believe, onions.

My male friend had the French Onion soup. The broiled cheese on top made it look like a custard; it contained more onions than soup, which to me is the preferred proportion. Both he and I chose the cinnamon doughnut with strawberry jam and Bavarian cream on the side. The doughnut arrived with a small dollop of melting whipped cream oozing out of the hole and mingling with the jam. The already-dripping doughnut made the cream almost superfluous, but it was tasty nonetheless with its crackling fried edges and just-baked center. Delicious.

My female friend had the chocolate waffles with apricot sauce. The waffles themselves were both fluffy and cakey, with the depressions forming perfect little bowls for the jam-like apricot sauce. On the side, she chose the bacon bread pudding, which arrived looking more like a muffin. She enjoyed everything heartily, bemoaning the fact that due to the shapewear she wore under her special-family-occasion dress ("Let's just call it a damn girdle, okay?") her consumption remained somewhat limited.

I ordered the smoked salmon with fennel-onion salad and Rosti potatoes. This was my only quibble with the meal. While the salmon, basically a beautifully-arranged little rosette of lox, was fresh and tasty, the fennel-onion salad also contained greens and huge capers, thus proving a rather astringent counterpart to the salmon. This would have been set off perfectly by the Rosti potatoes; I've never had them, but my female friend described them as the kind of thing you'd find at a true fondue party: julienned potatoes mixed with onions and covered in melting cheese. I was looking forward to them but noticed a woman at the next table whose salmon arrived with plain frites instead of a steaming cheesy mound. The waitress noted that they were out of Rosti potatoes, so I went with the frites as well. Sadly, this proved to be insufficient. I would really have preferred something creamy to set off the clean and stark tastes of the salad and salmon -- a little mound of cream cheese with some toast points might have been a simple substitute.

However, everything else was great. We ended up ordering ten truffles to go -- eight in a box for our friends, including two for us, and two in a little vellum purse, which my husband insisted on toting around with curled pinkies, for my MIL's birthday. We were a little chagrined that the pamphlet only described the categories and not what every truffle looked like, as it proved difficult to separate ours from our friends', but we didn't really care because whatever truffles we had were delicious.

We were waddling all afternoon, but we were happy.
Thusnelda
Forum God/Goddess
 
Posts: 1106
Joined: Thu Mar 20, 2003 10:30 am

Postby Violet_Skye » Tue May 23, 2006 3:31 pm

Took an out of town guest there for brunch Sunday, my first visit there too. The service was lackluster at first, we waited far too long to even be given water, and were considering leaving. It improved during our meal however, and the food more than made up for it. It was an outstanding brunch. Flavors, presentation, everything top notch. The chocolates were only "eh" IMO...go to Gail Ambrosius if you want good (great) chocolates. But I would go back for brunch any Sunday, White Horse Inn is now history in my brunch book...
Violet_Skye
Forum God/Goddess
 
Posts: 1297
Joined: Wed Apr 27, 2005 10:33 am
Location: Northeast side

Next

Return to Restaurant News & Reviews

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 1 guest

moviesmusiceats
Select a Movie
Select a Theater


commentsViewedForum
  ISTHMUS FLICKR
Created with flickr badge.

Promotions Contact us Privacy Policy Jobs Newsletters RSS
Collapse Photo Bar