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Cocorico, Whetstone High Road: Italianish Restaurant aimed at the masses

by noreply@blogger.com (northlondoner) @ Eat the world

13th February 2016
Don't you just hate the rip-off menus and meals that are everywhere on Valentines? I have had it with short overpriced set menus and indifferent food with rose sellers. (NB have you ever heard of a Romantic Curry?). So I try to go out either side of the day, and I think this is catching on. We booked Cocorico about 6 days in advance, because I could not get into the small local trattoria. There had been some initial negative reviews of locally of this place when it first started, and one or two people reported food poisoning. But a year down the line it is still there and I have noted that it is packed at nights even during the week. It had to be worth taking a chance. They promote themselves as a cross between an Italian Nando's and a full Italian Restaurant, but they do not do pizza (yet). The grilled spicy chicken is supposed to be their thing, and is very competitively priced, and avoids the necessity of dining with feral youths at a real Nandos. I would not knock Nandos as I think it is a great product at a great price, but I do not want to queue with teenagers for a table at a weekend. A friend of ours said the Italians do not know how to cook chicken, but I still took a chance.
There is an enthusiastic web site on http://cocoricorestaurant.co.uk/ which is sort of helpful. They accepted a booking immediately slotted in to their convenience, but when we arrived a few minutes early, there was a little queue of bookers and non-bookers. The place was pretty full on a Saturday night at 8pm, and only started thinning out at about 10. I heard that the place was an offshoot of Al Fresco across the road, which I have found very noisy with diffident staff, and I would not choose to go there regularly.
Unfortunately there are no pictures this time as  my phone had run out of juice.
The restaurant is modern, close packed with a bar and fairly open range kitchens where you can just about see what is being cooked. At least the ingredients looked real. Service is patchy and the waiters come from the demonstrative school of waiting showing what hard workers they are and how serving you is a bit of a burden. We were dealt with relatively promptly and got the feeling that they might have a window of attention for each customer before they want them to move on.
Having said that our staters of fried calamari and chicken/chorizo skewers were excellent. They were hot, and substantial portions.
I had the house grilled  1/2 chicken. Unlike Nandos, this is only mildly spiced and you cannot choose the hotness. However there is chilli sauce of high strength on the table. I thought my chicken was a little on the dry side for the breast meat, but my wife's chicken in a fruit sauce was excellent. The grilled chicken comes with two sides, and I chose the fries and sweetcorn, which was very like Nandos. Her meal came with Sautee potatoes, broccoli and green beans. She thought that you do not go to a restaurant to eat broccoli and green beans, and chose some fried zucchini as well, which was a good idea. The food was tasty and hot, scoring an 8.4 on the Chof scale. Portions sizes are very generous, and we might not have needed the starter. There is absolutely no pretension here, and it is a middle of the road place aimed at middle of the road people.
The pricing is also very middle of the road and our bill for a meal for two but sharing desert and a bottle of Malbec came to £61+. I put down 70 in cash and the waiter asked if I wanted change. Yes I did.
Would I go there again. Probably yes, but not as a talking group as it was very noisy, and probably not on a Saturday night, as it was packed and noisy.  The food is fine, and I would probably go for something other than the grilled chicken next time.

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