My ears pricked at the words ‘healthy’ and ‘salads’ and I knew I had to pay a visit to Cocotte, a ‘healthy rotisserie’ bistro on Westbourne Grove. Serving 24-hour marinated, slow cooked, free-range rotisserie chicken and a plethora of healthy and fresh salads, I had high expectations—and an empty stomach.
The styleThe restaurant has an eclectic vibe, with filament bulbs, exposed brickwork, and rustic wooden tables, paired with geometric cushions along a bench stretching from the front to the back. The place feels light and airy, but warm and cosy in the evening. Copper piping and industrial features, which hang down from the ceiling, give the place a modern and subtly interesting twist, while the rotisserie spit can be clearly seen on display in the open kitchen.
The crowdRomain, the owner and chef, could not be more passionate about his restaurant and his food. His presence on the restaurant floor and behind the scenes ensures only the best quality and freshest food is served. ‘Tomatoes from Sardinia, carrots from Britain…’ he explains. His love and enthusiasm is why the restaurant is bustling with locals enjoying a peaceful meal, and friends having a catch up.
It’s easy to see why this bistro on a corner of Westbourne Grove is so popular, two months after it opened its doors. The service we received is absolutely faultless thanks to the friendly, attentive staff. We were ‘checked on’ by Romain half way through our meal; we were offered more drinks just as a tiny inkling inside our brain was telling us we might be thirsty; we were asked about puddings just as we thought we’d digested enough of our meal to want to have something sweet.
The foodChickens are served whole, half or by the quarter, alongside a range of sauces that are made in small batches for freshness and include garlic mayo, homemade barbecue, a homemade mustard, chicken gravy, spicy sauce and a fresh pesto made with parsley, coriander, basil and mint.
While I was particularly excited to order a number of the nourishing salads that take up most of the menu, there was no way I was missing out on the truffle mac and cheese! So we shared half a rotisserie chicken with four sides. The chicken was as succulent and juicy as expected, but more importantly, had a decent quantity of meat on the thighs and legs—indicating that it had a happy, free-range life.
We opted for the Fernande salad with barley, pomegranate and feta, the Juliette salad (finely sliced pieces of carrot, celery, red onion, red pepper and herbs to create a fresh coleslaw, without the mayo) and the Nini’s, (broccoli, mange-tout, green beans, mushrooms, and an oily citrus dressing). The salads come at £6 as a side, or £11 as a main. The mac and cheese is served in a tiny ceramic dish (otherwise known as a cocotte, ironically), making it a belly-friendly portion when sharing with another, and there are other, more substantial sides, including roasted new potatoes and mashed potato.
When it comes to pudding, I’m not a strawberry person. I’ve never tried mochi and it’s never been something I’d had any desire to try. I also feel the same way about dates, and coconut shavings give me horrid flashbacks to eating a Bounty bar and being left with a mouth full of dry, coconut-flavour sand. So when we accepted Romain’s offer of a random selection of desserts, I was a little horrified when we were served a Date and Coconut cake and two pieces of strawberry cheesecake mochi (particularly as chocolate cake features on the pudding menu).
I panicked a bit—but after a while decided to try a piece of the date cake, which resembled a rocky road slab, with desiccated coconut sprinkled on top. I’m pleased (and still amazed), that the date cake was phenomenal. I don’t usually say that about cake, other than when I tried Sipsmith’s limited edition lemon drizzle gin. But the date cake was creamy and chocolatey, without the use of chocolate. It was crunchy, sweet, and flavoursome, without any added sugar. It was perfect—and I will definitely be back for more.
By then I’d plucked up the courage to try a mochi ball. It’s like a frozen dough ball, with a jelly-like outer layer, which holds together a soft, smooth ice cream-like filling with a little blob of strawberry jam right in the centre. I still don’t like strawberry or cheesecake, but I did like these Mochi balls. I’ll also be back to try their Mochi in other flavours—coconut, chocolate, and mango.
The drinkI had an organic Sauvignon Blanc from France (£7 per glass); my partner a Bloody Mary shaken up with horseradish and lemon (£9) followed by an Italian Sangiovese (£5 per glass). For a ‘healthy rotisserie’, I’d hoped to see some fresh juices on the menu—quirky concoctions filled with vegetables and fruit, particularly if visiting for lunch, and perhaps a greater range of cocktails as well using ingredients from local distilleries and microbreweries.
Both wines were delicious, however—the French Sauvignon Blanc a little too sweet for my partner but refreshing to my palate, while the cocktail was sweet, punchy, and spicy all at the same time.
In a nutshellI left feeling satisfied, but not bursting at the seams; Cocotte is the healthy, wholesome way of eating out without breaking the bank, your diet, or your waistband. It’s very casual dining with friendly service and knowledgeable staff, serving the freshest foods, crunchiest salads, and juiciest chicken.
Cocotte, 95 Westbourne Grove, London, W2; 020 3220 0076; www.mycocotte.uk