Restaurants & Bars 5

Nice But... [Coco in East Hampton MA]

jzzy55 | Feb 9, 201207:57 PM

We finally made it to Coco tonight. It's a small friendly place (but not so small as to be claustrophobic). Open kitchen. Exposed brick with some funky architectural and lighting touches. Bare wood tables on the small side. Chairs are comfortable enough. Service is professional -- attentive, unobtrusive. They were good about refilling the bottomless seltzer ($3.00) without being asked, which was very nice.

I had the beet salad first course. It was delicious, light dressing with perfectly cooked beet slices and a generous portion, too. Vinaigrette, some greens, some citrus, some crunchy bits (nuts perhaps). Spouse had the NE Clam Chowder. Spouse didn't like it, having assumed -- without asking -- that the soup would be thick and creamy with lots of seafood in it (Legal Seafood is spouse's chowder benchmark, I'm just sayin'). It was milky/brothy, with a lot of potatoes, a strong ham/bacon flavor and, he complained, not enough clams. I had a spoonful and found it tasty. So now you know -- it's a broth-based chowder, not cream.

I had the buttermilk fried chicken with garlic mashed potatoes and coleslaw. The coleslaw is very thinly sliced or shredded with an oil & vinegar rather than mayo dressing. It was quite good. The mashed potatoes were pleasant but not noteworthy.

The chicken I've been mulling over. I ate all of it. The breading was crisp, tasty and totally ungreasy, but not so flavorful as I was expecting (paprika, pepper, herbs, hello?). It was served with chili oil that I asked for on the side. I tasted the oil and chose not to use it. Perhaps the chicken really needs the oil to perk it up but I would rather that the seasoning be part of the breading, not oil poured on top. Sorry, chefs.

The chicken was a single breast, also a generous size. I think my reluctance to praise the chicken highly is due to the fact that a) I found the chicken JUST barely on the good side of overcooked (OK, maybe it was a bit dry as white meat can be) and b) I prefer small pieces of white and dark chicken on the bone to one big honkin' chunk of it. Eg, I'd rather have been served a leg/thigh/piece of breast instead of that big thing I got. I think one should have a choice of dark, white or mixed chicken in this case, it being FRIED chicken. Also, dark meat doesn't dry out like white meat.

My spouse had meatballs with polenta. Again, he was unmoved. I tasted the meatball and thought it was flavorful and rich-tasting -- perhaps a mix of beef, pork and veal? He had nothing to say about the sauce, greens or polenta. When pressed, he shrugged. (Spouse can be embarrassingly voluble about food he likes).

We skipped dessert because we were quite full (me) and or didn't see anything appealing (him).

So -- Coco Round I -- nice, but not exceptional, for me. Disappointing for him. Good service. Food came fairly quickly, and the place was about 3/4 full. Well-run kitchen.

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