Monday, September 29, 2008

Co Co Sala

My girl friend from Baltimore was in town this past Friday. We were all meeting her boyfriend for the first time, and I wanted to impress them both with how cool DC can be. It was a perfect excuse to try out a trendy new place. I proposed a few ideas, but Co Co Sala ended up being the one place everyone agreed upon, which worked out because I had really been dying to try it since I had sampled their fare at the Penn Quarter festival. It is a restaurant downtown (by F and 10th) based entirely around chocolate. Everything on the menu is either a dish with chocolate or a appetizer/side dish full of rich flavors and designed to compliment a chocolate meal.

(Blown sugar sculptures decorate the dinning room.)

We walked into a swanky bar/lounge scene full of well dressed people and were shown to our "table," which was actually just a couch with two little tables that primarily fit cocktails. The lounge feel of the whole place is very fun, but it would have been nice if they had thought about dinner customers. It was quite the balancing act to fit our drinks and food on these tiny tables without anything falling, especially the specialty chocolate dishes because they often came out on large, unconventionally shaped plates. Also something for Co Co Sala to think about in their lounge vs. restaurant identity is service. While we ordered a fair amount of food, our waitress definitely acted more like a cocktail waitress. She came by sparingly, never asked how anything was, never checked to make sure the meal had all come or was timed correctly (both of which we had problems with), and she was very slow about addressing anything we asked for (a second glass of wine or a missing dish.) Basically the only thing she did do well was look hot in her uniform and fill our waters. All was forgiven, though, because the food is phenomenal!

We ordered apps from all of their different sections, and not a single person didn't love their food.

My swordfish slider and shrimp mac and cheese. Perfectly caramelized onions and rich, creamy mac and cheese.

Erin's bacon mac and cheese which comes with a piece of chocolate covered bacon. (Everyone loved it, but I thought it was... interesting.) Plus her lobster salad, full of huge chunks of lobster. Not shown is the original mac and cheese and the Louisiana crab cake, but both were raved about. I tried the crab cake, and, like the lobster salad, it was also filled with large chunks of crab.

Then we moved on to the chocolate courses which is what you come to Co Co Sala for. Erin and I split the Aztec experience.

Our churros with a cinnamon cream and dulce de leche dip.

Our hot chocolate souffle with fiery center. Plus sides of coffee ice cream, gold decorated chocolate bar, and Kahlua. The souffle was amazing. It wasn't too spicey. There was just a pleasant heat on your tongue at the end of eating it. The final dish (our petit fours) apparently escaped being photographed, but that's ok because it was predominantly white chocolate and therefore my least favorite.

My friend and her boyfriend got the Italian tasting, which I was extremely jealous of at points.

Vanilla panna cotta and chocolate praline soup.

Flavors of tiramisu.

Their petit fours: Tuscen ricotta bite and a chocolate dippped ameretti.

Our one friend who opted out of one of the chocolate journeys, thought she would end the night lightly with the chocolate tasting. On the menu it is simply described as chocolate in 3 states: solid, semi-solid, and liquid. In reality, the chocolate tasting is a rainbow of chocolates from white the dark with pieces in each state. She finished every last drop despite saying how full she was.

If shots of pure chocolate aren't your thing, don't worry. The cocktails were inventive and delicious, especially the co cojito, and I did really like my wine even if it took 30 minutes to get the second glass. Plus there are drink pairing suggestions for all courses to give you some ideas.

Between the drinks and the food, you should definitely put this on your list of places to visit. I think like any new place Co Co Sala has some kinks to work out like most new restaurants. Hopefully they will because I'm really looking forward to coming back to try everything else on their menu.

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