Saturday, Feb 22, 2020
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Cocoplum Bistro & Bar

If you’ve still not heard of Cocoplum Bistro & Bar in the six months they’ve been opened, this means you have not had the pleasure of dining there – which means you’re seriously missing out on the amazing food and inviting environment that owners Gabriella Curry, the Italian-Bahamian interior designer, and Cecile Cathelin, the French chef, have created.

They literally say they “poured” their hearts into the renovation of the West Bay Street restaurant located in the Harbour Green Shopping Plaza to create the warm, energetic and welcoming atmosphere, where French and Mediterranean cuisine with an island twist intermingle, taking advantage of local fresh products. And where Cathelin has created a menu inspired by her childhood memories, her travels and her passion.

We’ve all had great dining experiences at some point or other, but have you ever had your mind and expectations blown away? You can expect to be blown away at Cocoplum Bistro & Bar.

First of all, Cathelin is not afraid to season her food – and she seasons it well. Secondly, her portions are hearty. And thirdly, her composed plates are pleasing to the eye. The taste seals the deal.

In addition to the set menu at Cocoplum Bistro & Bar, they offer daily specials. On a recent visit, without even realizing it, I had ordered from the specials – it was that enticing.

The offerings included bone marrow, tuna tartar and tuna carpaccio for appetizers; a 32-ounce Tomahawk steak with asparagus and roasted potatoes for the main; and zeppole (fried dough with lemon zest and mascarpone), apple tart and a creme caramel for dessert.

Sheer decadence from beginning to end!

Served roasted, I spread the unctuous, sweet, buttery marrow on the slice of crisp grilled bread served alongside and indulged in the fatty goodness that was gone too soon as far as I was concerned. (I shared with the hubby, with whom I was having dinner.) I had to compliment the chef on being gutsy enough to serve bone marrow which is considered a delicacy in many regions of the world and something many people have never even heard of.

I’d just gotten started on my meal and my mind was already blown.

With the ribeye being my favorite cut of steak, I couldn’t resist ordering the Tomahawk steak even though I knew I wouldn’t be able to finish the 32-ounce monster – the ultimate “wow-factor” sharing steak, and which you normally find at upmarket steakhouses. As it is a bone-in rib steak, I knew to expect loads of flavor.

That bad boy was impressive as it was set before me with the meat separated from the bone lengthways, then sliced across the grain into slices and served with asparagus and roasted potatoes. To be honest, when you’re eating a buttery, silky, absolutely indulgent steak like a Tomahawk, you really don’t want to be distracted by too many other things, and Cathelin served it up perfectly seasoned with roasted potatoes that were crisp on the outside, creamy on the inside, and again perfectly salted.

An order of zeppole (fried dough) which Cathelin served alongside mascarpone with lemon zest was a sinful conclusion to an amazing meal. The Italian delicacies were sweet and crunchy on the outside and pillowy soft on the inside, and served warm with a dusting of confectioner’s sugar. I indulged with a cappuccino nightcap which is always served with a madeleine, a traditional small cake from Commercy and Leverdun of the Lorraine region in northeastern France – buttery little French cakes that she bakes daily.

If that was my last meal on this earth, I would have been happy.

My hubby opted for the mozzarella and tomato mosaic with olive oil and basil for his appetizer; and the rack of lamb with gremolata of parsley, garlic and zest of lemon and orange from the set menu; and finished with an apple tart. Again, Cathelin and her staff outdid themselves.

Cocoplum Bistro & Bar is open Tuesday through Saturday from 12 noon to 3 p.m. for lunch and 6 p.m. to 10 p.m. for dinner.

Six questions for Cocoplum Bistro & Bar Chef Cecile Cathelin

Q: What experience do you want people to take away from their Cocoplum dining experience?

A: I would like to leave them with the sensation that France is not that far and with a Mediterranean taste on their palate. I want to surprise them with a bone marrow and a steak tartare so they can feel as if they were in a bistro in Paris, or eat a lamb tagine and be in Marrakech or even a Greek salad like in Athens.

I want my clients to be able to taste the joy and love that I put in my cooking. Each meal that I work on and create has a story behind it from my past… my beef tartare that my dad would make every Saturday for lunch when I was a kid, the escargots that I would eat with my son in Lyon – all the exotic flavors that I remember so well when I was a flight attendant with Air France in the ‘90s. And most importantly, all those afternoons spent cooking with my mom, sisters and brothers. Cooking with family was always the one thing that always brought us together. I want my clients to leave with the feeling that my cooking is personal. It is not a recipe that was followed step by step, all of it always comes to me in the moment which is probably why my sous chef goes crazy every day with all my specials. There is a story and passion behind each of my dishes and I hope my clients can taste it.

Q: It’s been six months since you and Gabriella Curry officially opened, how have you seen the special menus that you have put on evolve, and what menu item(s) have people been extremely keen on?

A: Our best-sellers are definitely the Babaganoush (eggplant, green yogurt, sumac), the avocado flower power, the lionfish ceviche and the salmon gravlax for the starters. As for the mains, the beef tenderloin with the chef sauce, the octopus with the black beans, mushrooms and smoked red peppers, the lobster persillade (in its simplest form it is a mix of chopped parsley, garlic and vinegar); and finally for the desserts, the pineapple carpaccio and the chocolate mousse – and everybody loves our apple crumble!

Q: What item(s) are you looking forward to putting on as a special but haven’t as yet?

A: We will have a dry-aged Tomahawk, a cowgirl steak and some escargots (persillade).

For December and Christmas we will make our homemade foie gras, some seared scallops, Beef Wellington and salmon koulibiack (salmon in puff pastry with rice and a layer of spinach)… And many more tasty surprises.

Q: You’re changing the menu in a few weeks, what will change and what will you keep?

A: We will keep our signature dish as mentioned above and have flavory chicken liver mousse, a delicious veal chop served with the best mash potatoes (Joel Robuchon’s recipe – one of France’s most famous chefs) served with a chef sauce of shallots, butter and balsamic reduction. A new pasta dish – pappardelle with braised beef short rib ragù, an amazing burger with homemade aioli (mayonnaise and garlic) and a delicious crème caramel… and much more.

Q: You are now doing a happy hour, what does that entail?

A: Happy hour is now every Friday from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. with half price on our signature cocktails and two beers for $7 as well as the chef’s choice of small plates.

Q: Now that Cocoplum Bistro & Bar’s decor is complete, what do you and Gabriella think of the overall effect? Is it all that you thought it would be or did it exceed your expectations?

A: We are very happy and proud of the overall effect and we are still continuing to improve it with more wicker mirrors on the wall, more pineapples, some flamingos, lanterns and candles, and a little touch of the island spirit we want to give to Cocoplum.

Shavaughn Moss

Lifestyles Editor at The Nassau Guardian
Shavaughn Mossjoined The Nassau Guardianas a sports reporter in 1989. She was later promoted to sports editor.Shavaughn covered every major athletic championship from the CARIFTA to Central American and Caribbean Championships through to World Championships and Olympics.
Shavaughn was appointed as the Lifestyles Editor a few years later.

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