IT’S surely a good sign for a restaurant when even a monsoon doesn’t keep the punters away.
Despite the heavens emptying enough water to float the ark in Aberdeen, the cosy yet classy dining area in Cocoa was still packed with delighted, if slightly damp, diners.
After shaking ourselves down and taking our seats, my fiancee and I were greeted by one of the friendliest waitresses you could ever hope to meet.
In fact, this smiling service, which was attentive without ever being intrusive, was a hallmark of the whole meal.
After being offered a choice of freshly-cooked, piping hot artisan rolls, we settled down to the important business of picking our food.
Less extensive than some restaurants, Cocoa’s menu still had mouth-watering options wherever we looked.
I was instantly drawn to the warm chorizo and halloumi salad – two of my favourite ingredients that I’d never seen matched together. My slight fear that the dish might prove slightly too salty was dispelled with the first bite, with the lime and chilli dressing adding a wonderful sweetness to every delicious forkful.
The chorizo itself was perfectly spiced and cooked, and the cheese had none of the rubberiness that can spoil grilled halloumi.
In between nicking mouthfuls of my starter, my fiancee actually managed to eat her own – a trio of salmon.
The baked salmon with lemon and asparagus tips with smoked salmon were both tasty, but the real winner was the hot smoked salmon gateau – a fluffy terrine with a wonderfully deep flavour.
She followed up that tasty trinity with the chicken breast with thyme risotto, wild mushrooms and jus.
The carved meat was tender and juicy, infused with garlic and a pleasant hint of thyme.
The risotto had a stronger taste of the herb, which blended perfectly with the woody mushrooms, although the big portion size was a bit much for my fiancee’s stomach (if not for mine).
My Aberdeen Angus sirloin was similarly melt-in-the-mouth. The huge slab of meat was served just as I’d asked (almost still breathing) next to a neat stack of hand-cut chips and a pool of hollandaise sauce.
We tried to summon the appetite to try one of the delicious-sounding desserts, but sadly we were beaten.
We accepted the waitress’ offer to keep our coats upstairs (another lovely touch) and wandered down to the bar for some prosecco on tap, before floating home!