Style over substance Asian restaurant. Expensive with average service, average food, even design starting to fray at edges.
It was a special occasion. My girlfriend's mate had been to one of the Queen's garden parties at Buckingham Palace (it was cold, wet and they didn't get within 20 yards of the Queen, but never mind...) and wanted to go out and celebrate the occasion.
We decided on Cocoon on Regent Street after really enjoying their food at the Taste of London festival in May. It's a long, dark, stylish bar with huge green chairs, rose petal tables and a number of sushi stations and plenty of bling.
The menu is quite eclectic with a mix of sushi, dim sum and mains with a Thai, Chinese and Japanese flavour.
Service was slow from the start.
20 minutes to order a drink.
Another 10 for them to arrive and take our food order.
A further half an hour for the first starters to appear,which were a fairly average bunch of dishes and no better than anything you'd get in Chinatown (but were twice the price).
The crispy aromatic duck rolls were more veg than duck and weren't any better than you could get from M&S.
Their take on prawn toast was an unusual prawn ball covered in sesame seeds, which was trying too hard to be clever and just didn't work.
Tempura sweet potato and baby corn was good and came with a sticky orange sauce and to be fair the crab cakes were very good - plenty of well spiced succulent crab meat, although not much in the way of accompanying chilli jam.
The lowlight though was salt and pepper squid. It was badly overcooked, with tiny, rubbery pieces of squid which was overwhelmed by the tempura.
I'm going to pause here to rant about the service. I've already mentioned they were slow, but they were also trying to be overly fancy. For example, they kindly took away our wine to keep chilled, but then failed to top it up when our glasses were empty (we had to ask twice) and then shoddily poured the wine and dripped it over the table. To be fair though, one of our waitresses was quite friendly and smiled her way through her incompetence.
I wish i'd taken my camera with me to show their idea of rare lamb. I would normally have sent it back, but it was one of those awkward situations when you're out with people you don't really know (and to be fair they were really enjoying the food) and you don't want to appear fussy and show up the missus!
The best thing anyone had all night was the beef redang, which came with roti bread and chutney. The beef just melted in the mouth.
Desserts were ok (though again we had to wait a while to order), though not particularly Asian. I had a suitably gooey centred chocolate fondant. A yogurt cake was lovely, with a soft centre and mango sorbet and the pistachio creme brulee was well received.
My main problem with Cocoon came with the bill. The quality of food just didn't justify the £75 per head cost. It was no better than you'd get in China Town or somewhere like Ping Pong, both of which would've been less than half the price.
Alternatively, for a bit more we could have gone to the amazing Hakkasan (stylish and great food) or Yauatcha. Even the stylish interior was starting to look a little past it's best. The chairs were starting to fray and the walls were scuffed, which is always the problem with places where the style comes before the food. When the style starts wane, then the compelling reason to go there diminishes.
Don't get me wrong, we had a good evening, but Cocoon just doesn't deliver the 'wow' factor it promises and its prices demand.