Worth the wait

Coco’s Bistro delivers in new location

 By Brian P. Sharp

It is a thrilling thing to hear about a downtown Dayton restaurant having a two-hour wait, and that was just the case when I visited Coco’s Bistro in their new location on Warren Street. The good news was a friendly valet was available to assist with parking. However, we were warned in the parking lot, “UD had a home game and there is a long wait.” That didn’t stop us … we were ready for a relaxing evening.

There are a couple of entrances to the restaurant that make it a bit confusing. One entrance is to the bar area called High Violet, the other to the main dining area. Once we figured that out, we were good to go.

We walked in and were greeted immediately by Michael. He explained that they were on a two-hour wait but we could certainly sit in the bar and have dinner there if we were in a hurry. We put in our name and headed off to the bar to wait. As we walked in, a couple was leaving a table. We sat down and were greeted by Kate, who has to be one of the most friendly and efficient bar servers that I have ever encountered. The bar is dark and lit with spot track lighting that makes it difficult to see in some places where you have a spotlight shining in your face. Kate first offered the wine and cocktail list and asked if we were dining there. I explained that we were waiting on a table. Cocktails were ordered; there is a nice selection of wines offered by the bottle or glass, and a selection of specialty cocktails as well. When I mentioned the efficiency of Kate, I should say that not only did she provide great service, but as she would pass our table with appetizers or food for other tables she would come back and tell us about those items, offering to allow us to order at any time. Kate also went to check on our place on the wait list. Finally, Kate convinced us to try the buffalo shrimp appetizer. This was a perfect item for sharing – 6 jumbo shrimp lightly breaded, tossed in a sweet garlic buffalo sauce and served with a creamy bleu cheese dip.  Appetizers range in price from $7 to $15 and are perfect for sharing. By the time we had finished our appetizer and cocktails, Kate came by to let us know they were clearing a table for us. Kate’s friendliness and efficiency made it seem nearly impossible that an hour and a half had passed while waiting for a table. Kudos to Kate!

Michael escorted us to a table in the back of the main dining room. The new location is decorated with beautiful flair – though once again, poorly lit. I should also mention there is a room in the back of the restaurant that is perfect for large groups or meetings.

Our server, Steven, greeted us and offered cocktails while we looked over the menu. After explaining that we had been drinking and eating for the last hour and a half, we moved quickly to ordering dinner having already studied the menu.

Steven came back with freshly baked bread accompanied by mixed berry herb butter – he also brought us some garlic herb butter as well.

For dinner, I decided on grilled pork medallion – prepared medium rare and served atop Yukon potatoes with thick cut bacon pieces, melted leeks – which were grilled and caramelized – and served with both a gooseberry sauce and a horseradish cream. The pork medallion was thick cut and moist – perfectly grilled and only lightly seasoned which was a perfect balance to those amazing sauces. The horseradish cream was so perfect, I asked for more. My friend chose a Spanish coulotte steak. Grilled medium rare, this thin piece of Angus beef was served with Spanish fried potatoes, caramelized shallots and a roasted garlic cream sauce.  Steven was the ideal server – knowledgeable, attentive, yet not annoying.  He was quick to get us anything we needed.

The dinner menu is full of options. I overheard the people at the next table raving about the red trout with brown butter. It is pan-seared – skinless and boneless – served with sautéed spinach and a brown butter pomme puree. The menu also includes filet of beef, shrimp scampi ravioli, crispy duck breast, ahi tuna, artisanal pizzas, as well as entrée sized salads. Entrées range in price from $20 to $27, while pizzas are in the $12 to $14 range and entrée salads from $8 to $15.

After dinner was cleared – and by cleared I mean a plate that looked like it was licked clean – Steven took away the after effects and offered coffee or after dinner drinks while we looked over dessert options.

There are five dessert options and each one seems more decadent than the next. I decided on the seasonal bread – which was a grilled thick slice of banana bread served with triple bean vanilla ice cream and topped with streudel crumbs and dolce de leche. My friend chose the featured dessert, which was lemon pound cake grilled and served with fresh berries topped with whipped cream and drizzled with a balsamic reduction. While we were absolutely full from the delicious appetizers to the mouth-watering entrées, missing dessert was NOT an option.

The bottom line –Coco’s Bistro is busy, but worth the wait. Karen delivers great food with outstanding service, right downtown. Who wants to join me for lunch or dinner at Coco’s?  I am ready to go back!

Coco’s Bistro is located at 250 Warren St. For more information call 937.228.2626 or visit 228coco.com.

Reach DCP food critic Brian P. Sharp at BrianSharp@daytoncitypaper.com

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Reach DCP food critic Brian P. Sharp at BrianSharp@DaytonCityPaper.com.

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