Dinner At Cocina Restaurant @ Casa, Chesterfield
Last night saw the Boy Wonder and I at the very swanky Cocina restaurant located inside Casa, Chesterfields only four star hotel.
The hotel itself is very striking from the roadside and the restaurant is no less impressive. Beautifully polished hardwood floors are throughout the space, with dark wood tables and chairs that have neutral textured upholstery on them. The display shelves and interior walls are a combination of dark and lighter woods with modern, angular lines being the theme. The inclusion of floaty drapes between the tables and recessed ceiling lights soften the look so that the overall effect is one of cosy contemporariness, and it is exceptionally pleasing to the eye.
Cara (the restaurant manager) and her team are absolutely at the top of their game; last night was a very busy weekend service period and the whole restaurant was running like clockwork. I love the uniform the servers wear, black trousers paired with a deep claret shirt and black waistcoat, and finished off with a mid-shin length black apron; the whole look was clean, professional and trendy.
As we sat down, a very pleasant young lady asked if we would like some bread to nibble and water for the table whilst we looked through the menu.
For our starters we had the Ham Hock Terrine with Onion puree, Apple chutney and toasted bread and the Lobster and Crayfish ravioli with shellfish bisque, fresh Chervil, braised Fennel and Lemon dressing. The terrine was, according to His Nibs, wonderfully meaty, nicely seasoned and the chunky chutney really accentuated its flavours beautifully. I must say, the little piece of terrine I tried was fantastic; very flavoursome.
My own ravioli was simply divine with its delicate filling caressing my taste buds gently. The pasta was al dente, down to the exact second of perfection, and the flavours of Chervil and Fennel worked harmoniously together to enhance the delicate seafood flavours in the bisque.
Next up were the main courses; fillet of wild Stone Bass with braised Chicory, Orange infused Fennel puree, wilted Spinach, tender stem Broccoli, creamy Potato and an orange and shellfish reduction for me and the rump of Walton Lodge lamb with a Walton Lodge Faggot, Rosemary Pomme Anna, spiced Aubergine puree, grilled Courgette, Salsa Verde and rich roasting jus for The Man Bird.
For those that don’t know, the owner of Casa, Mr Steve Perez, also has his own farm (Walton Lodge) and takes great pride in rearing his own meat to present to diners in his restaurant. The quality of The Boy Wonders Lamb was second-to-none. I always maintain that you can tell well reared animals in the taste of the meat they produce, so I think it safe to say that Mr Perez’ lambs are as happy as Larry J.
Cutlery was surplus to requirements as the meat just fell apart and melted on the tongue, it was so tender. Regular readers will know of His Nibs aversion to bloody meat, so he was a bit nervy when the server told him the lamb was presented pink. No need to worry however as the meat was perfectly pink, well rested and no blood in sight. The Faggot was a really punchy little number; nice and dense in texture with a great bite to the seasoning that made it a great contrast to the delicate lamb rump and the aubergine puree went superbly well with it. The Pomme Anna made quite an impression too with its rosemary hint.
Judging by the portion on my plate I think the world record for Stone Bass was broken when this beauty was caught, and the Chef certainly did it justice. The skin was well seasoned and deliciously crisp and revealed a juicy, plump, firm flesh that had a beautiful sweetness to it on the palate. As you would expect in a restaurant of Cocina’s calibre the vegetables were cooked to perfection, and provided the ideal counterpart to the fish.
We indulged in side orders of Polenta chips with shaved Parmesan and Tomato chutney and a Rocket and Parmesan salad with Balsamic dressing, both of which were delicious. In fact, The Man declared the fries and chutney “to die for”, high praise indeed.
Pudding was just amazing. I chose the Fig and Pistachio tart with Rum syrup and Vanilla cream and Boy Wonder opted for a Dark Chocolate and Caramel fondant with Honeycomb ice cream and Blood Orange syrup.
The Fondant was delicious and rich with a gorgeous oozy middle that had my companion in raptures of delight; the ice cream was equally tasty with the separate Honeycomb pieces providing some crunchy texture to the dessert.
My tart had a nice crisp base that showcased a marvellous Pistachio filling studded with pieces of fresh Fig. The vanilla ice cream accentuated the delicate flavours with a lovely amount of rum syrup to add an extra dimension to the dish without overwhelming the other ingredients.
Two lattes brought our evening to a jolly nice finish as we observed the other diners. There was a great mix of diners of all age groups and the atmosphere was lovely and lively for a Saturday evening. If you haven’t been before I can thoroughly recommend that you pay this impressive establishment a visit, the food is top quality and the service equally good. “Hot Wings” to team Cocina.