Friday, April 26, 2013

Restaurant Week Recap #2: Coco in Buffalo

If you haven't been down on Main Street near the Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus recently, there is a lot of work going on to create a new transit station along with new buildings that will house the University at Buffalo's School of Medicine. The plans look gorgeous, and they will bring a couple thousand students and staff into downtown Buffalo on a daily basis once they are completed.

Nestled on Main Street across from the Medical Campus is a cute little French bistro, Coco. Coco opened back in May 2012 under the ownership that ran Le Metro (now closed) in the Tony Walker Plaza in Williamsville. 

If you are driving down Main Street, you may miss it unless you are looking closely. The restaurant doesn't have a large sign. Coco has a blue painted exterior with black awning and lights hanging from it. Once inside, though the space is small, it is very inviting and comfortable. The atmosphere is casual and the wait staff was friendly.

We arrived about 20 minutes before our reservation, so we grabbed a seat at the bar and enjoyed a bottle of wine (the Zum Riesling - only Riesling on their menu, and it was delicious). The bar area is trendy and they offer a fun cocktail menu as well as a wine list and good beer on tap (including Flying Bison Rusty Chain).

Once the rest of our group arrived, we sat down for our 6:00pm reservation. Sometimes, with big groups, and especially during Restaurant Week, you can feel crowded in your seat. I really appreciated the open feel to this restaurant. The arrangement of tables is well laid out and the dining area is gorgeous. 

The menu for Restaurant Week included a starter, entree and dessert. Between the six of us in my party, we tried each of the starters and they were all delicious. I chose the pea & carrot aranchini with arborio rice and mozzarella (pictured, left). I've tried aranchini at a few restaurants before, but this one was seasoned and cooked perfectly. The crispy exterior gave way to a flavorful mix of cheese, rice and vegetable. It sat on a bed of lettuce that was the perfect compliment to it. My boyfriend ordered the roasted red pepper bisque, and while it did have a bold spice to it, it was tasty too. 

For the entree course I went back and forth all day on what to order, everything looked great. I ended up going with the "Bagels & Lox" dish (pictured below) which was an incredibly creative and inventive dish. Playing off the traditional bagel and lox, the entree was a piece of pan seared salmon in an "everything bagel vinaigrette", with a cream cheese and chive risotto. It was topped with a beet marscarpone and had a chopped egg garnish. All I can say is, WOW! The entire dish came together beautifully, and getting a little piece of everything made the flavors burst. My salmon was cooked perfectly, and the risotto was outstanding. As I finished up my last bite (debating on whether or not to lick the plate clean), my boyfriend commented, "You clearly didn't like your dinner."

My boyfriend and one other guest in our party ordered the Moroccan chicken on the menu that came paired with a couscous with dried fruit and nuts. They both enjoyed it a lot, but said it needed a little more seasoning.

The other two Restaurant Week entree dishes were also ordered at our table: Porcini & Marscarpone Pierogi and the Steak Frites. Everyone enjoyed their meals, and there was very little left on plates. I had a chance to try some of the rosemary frites and they were amazing. Among some of my favorite french fries! One of the guests in our party commented that this Restaurant Week adventure was up there as her favorite. 

Our meals closed out with our choice of either a chocolate brownie with ice cream, a rhubarb shortcake (what I chose), or a unique avocado mousse. All the desserts were great!

We looked at the regular menu at Coco and it includes pizzas, entrees, and a handful of different types of mussels. While we were at the bar, another patron ordered mussels and they looked and smelled incredible. We all agreed we needed to come back for another meal and get them. 

With Restaurant Week wrapping up in a few days, I'd say that Coco should be a "must squeeze in" if you can fit it into your schedule this weekend. Call for reservations ahead of time. 

I love Restaurant Week in Buffalo for so many reasons, but the number one reason is because it opens my eyes to restaurants I hadn't heard about before. I didn't know Coco existed prior to looking at the participating restaurants, and I'm glad that the group I was going out with was looking to try something new. There are so many "hidden gems" throughout Buffalo and Western New York, and Restaurant Week gives local restaurants the chance to shine. Coco certainly did for us! 

Moroccan Chicken

Rhubarb Shortcake...a sweet ending to a perfect meal!

For more reviews on Coco check out Urbanspoon: CoCo on Urbanspoon

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