Friday, September 01, 2006

coco noche: Getting buzzed off chocolate and wine

I like wine bars (Bodega deCordova), they're even better when you add tapas (La Tasca). but when you throw in gourmet chocolates and caramel wine pairings, now you're talking.

coco noche's decadent-sounding sign caught my eye even before this new chocolate, wine and tapas bar in downtown Manhattan Beach opened. coco noche. chocolate nights. Chocolate at night time with alcohol. I'm in.

Chrissy and I made a visit to this perfect-sounding spot last night. The intimate little choco-wine bar is unpretentious (warm and simple cream and wood decor, friendly accommodating servers, a touch too-bright lighting) with unpretentious prices (you can eat and drink well for easily under $30)

The menu lists the chocolate and desserts first, with the tapas on the following page. As ladies who have often planned our entree and appetizer choices around dessert ("we could get the pomegranate-glazed lamb but is that going to be pomegranate overload since we're for sure ordering their yummy sounding pomegranate and creme anglais parfait?"), we liked how this place thinks.

Although we both wanted to follow the menu and skip straight to the sweet stuff, we ordered a couple dinner items first. The tapas are not of the spanish kind but have more of a korean &/or cafe flavor. Sounds odd but works, especially since several of the chocolates are flavored with an Asian influence. We shared the basil chicken salad (with a refreshing cucumber and mint yogurt rather than mayo) on a toasted croissant with an Asian side salad ($9) and the specialty bul-gogi korean seasoned beef lettuce wraps with sticky rice ($12). Both were good, but really, it's all about the chocolate here.

The chocolate morsels are courtesy of exotic chocolatier, Vosges Haute Chocolate. They have two sets of tasting flights with 3 chocolates and 3 wines. With choices such as RED FIRE: dark chocolate spiced with chipotle chili peppers and Ceylon cinnamon, BLACK PEARL: chocolate flecked with ginger, wasabi and black sesame and GOJI BERRY: Tibetan sweet berries and pink Himalayan salt embedded chocolate, we had trouble trying to figure out which set of three we wanted. Our accommodating waiter helped ease the decision-making pain by giving us a couple of samples and letting us mix and match whichever three chocolates and wines we wanted. You can also get desserts by the piece and those ordering their alcohol a la carte will find an extensive selection of affordable (most $9 or under) by-the-glass options as well as specialty beers including the delicious raspberry Frambois beer.

We picked the first, sweeter, flight of wines (Ravenswood Zinfandel, Riesling and cream Sherry) over the heartier Coppola Pinot Noir, Santa Rosa Merlot and Banfi dessert wine and picked the Red Fire (the spicy chocolate was our favorite), Black Pearl and Barcelona (hickory-smoked almonds with fleur del sey gray sea salt). They also had chocolate caramels infused with flavors such as orange and ginger but since sticky caramels are a no-no for my still slightly ailing wisdom teeth, we also ordered their so-airily-light-it-must-be-zero-calories Key Lime torte with white and milk chocolate instead.

Only open for seven days so far, coco noche's menu, decor and specials are still evolving but they are working with a sweet concept; getting patrons buzzed off both sugar and drinks--two things I love, so me, my ID and my sweet tooth are looking forward to future, chocolate-coated drunken nights.

coco noche
1140 Highland Ave, Manhattan Beach

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

you may have as big a sweet tooth as me!