It was just a few short months ago that Chef Cecile Cathelin was showcasing heartier, warmer menu items that featured rich fare for maximum coziness during the cooler months – but now that we’re into the lazy, hazy dog days of summer, she’s again made some switches to the menu at Cocoplum bistro and bar, taking into consideration the fact that tastes trend towards lighter, yet immensely satisfying fare at this time. And I ain’t mad at her! In fact, I’m embracing the new menu items Cathelin has intertwined with a few menu staples for these hotter months.
A mere six months after putting out her winter menu, the summer menu showcases more seafood and vegetable-based offerings. Think mahi-mahi with lemon butter, parsley, fennel and steamed potatoes, a dish that proved to be light, yet filling, as well as delicious, that I’m ready to order again upon my return visit.
Then, there’s an artichoke carpaccio featuring thinly sliced baby artichokes, shaved Parmesan and arugula in a lemon and olive oil dressing, that artichoke lovers like myself won’t get enough of.
She’s also put the silkiest, most luscious hummus on her menu. Sprinkled with za’atar, sumac and pine nuts and served with cassava chips, cucumber, carrot sticks and grilled artichokes, you may not even want to share.
The new summer menu also features gazpacho – a cold soup of tomatoes, red sweet peppers, cucumber and garlic bread; or the trofie pasta with shrimp, spinach, cream and Parmesan.
She’s put these items on, but retained some staples that her customers would riot over if she tried to remove them – even if only for a few months. Case-in-point, for me, the olive bar which features olives, tapenade and Parmesan cheese is one of those things I just have to indulge in, no matter what else I’m having. Her babaganoush dip, or her beef carpaccio, are other items that have been on the menu since the restaurant opened its doors that she probably couldn’t do away with, for no period of time. As is the case for such things as her lobster persillade (a seasoning mixture of parsley, chopped together with seasonings including garlic, herbs, oil and vinegar), or grilled octopus or rack of lamb.
But she did switch out the mushroom risotto for a saffron and lobster risotto offering in her nod to summer.
Outside her staple menu, you go in with anticipation of what she will feature for her daily specials on any given day, where you would sometimes find anything from a 32-ounce tomahawk steak to bone marrow. On my recent visit, the offerings included U4 South African prawns in persillade sauce (a seasoning mixture of parsley, chopped together with seasonings including garlic, herbs, oil and vinegar) and white rice; a vegetable couscous featuring carrots, zucchini, rutabaga, fennel, cabbage, tomatoes, chickpeas, onions and celery; and a whole hogfish with coconut rice and mango chutney.
Even for the desserts on the special, Cathelin opted for clean and light – a strawberry tartar with mint and whipped cream; and an orange blossom salad featuring dates, mint and oranges.
When it comes to dining in the summer, I’m a fan of eating lighter and fresher, so restaurants switching up a few menu items seasonally is something I look forward to and embrace, and I’m embracing the summer menu offerings that Chef Cathelin is showcasing at Cocoplum bistro and bar. This is following a change she made just six months ago, so I’m always up for the culinary adventure she has for diners.
Shavaughn was appointed as the Lifestyles Editor a few years later.