A foodie friend had told us about Cocotte, tucked away in Robina Quays Shopping Centre.  I did some internet research and was intrigued by the sound of a Chef with a Japanese background with Mod Australian fine dining experience, who has produced a menu embracing Asian and European cuisines (including tapas).  In summary – we really enjoyed our dinner and will be back!

There’s a great bio on the Ower / Chef, Shunichi Tanabe, on Cocotte’s website which really caught my attention.  Descriptions like ‘Japanese’, ‘Modern Australian’, ‘fresh, local, organic or free range’, and ‘restaurant’s own garden’ tend to capture my attention and inspire me to dine.  Also I love the idea of combining Japanese and European cuisines and providing tapas options to allow you to taste what the chef can do.

Sime and I visited on a Wednesday early (I’m talking restaurant opening time early… need to eat early – another pregnancy requirement) after making a reservation.  The atmosphere is relaxed, there is a lovely courtyard which would be even nicer if it wasn’t raining; we could see the restaurant’s garden which was lovely.  No tablecloths or cloth napkins here for those fine dining lovers out there, but we don’t really care as long as we get great food.  We love to travel and find little local holes in the wall that might not look that flash but serve amazing foods that the locals love.  One other important point – the restaurant is BYO only, but there is a bottle shop in the shopping centre.

We perused the menu – and both struggled to choose whether we should have tapas or mains – mainly because almost everything we read was making us salivate.  A good start :).  After some deliberation and debate we agreed to try on a selection of tapas this time, and on a future visit (all going well) come back and enjoy the main.  I’m sure I’ve said before I love good duck, there was a main that I’m particularly keen to try (actually, and an amazing sounding steak dish).

First to arrive was the Heirloom Tomato Salad ($12) from the specials list.  Amazing tomatoes – great flavour and texture, served simply with some olives, manchego (we think)  and herbs.  A great dish which showed off the main ingredient very well.

Next to arrive was another special – Bacalhau balls – Portuguese crumbed salted fish balls with yuzu mayonnaise ($16).  I assumed these were made from that dried salted fish you can buy in some delis and I’m pretty sure I was right.  Great texture, crunchy crumb with a soft salted fish and potato filling.  The yuzu (Japanese citrus fruit) flavour was quite mild in the mayo, I would’ve liked more being a citrus lover, but the mayo still tasted great with the fish balls.

After this our Grilled Wagyu arrived – Grilled Wagyu beef rump (scored 9+) from Northern NSW with fresh herb olive oil ($19).  The Wagyu was sliced thinly, cooked perfectly and had that lovely rich flavour.  We were glad it was served with some wasabi to cut through the fat as it was quite a rich (yet delicious) dish).

Our next dish – Seared scallops with soba kernels & edamame salad, preserved lemon dressing ($16).  The scallops were perfectly cooked (delicately seared), sweet and fresh (no roe, just the way I like it).  We liked the salad but ate it separately to enjoy the delicate flavour of the scallops.

Last up was the Gratin of Japanese mushroom & roasted vegetables with white miso (V) ($12).  I think this was my favourite dish.  A combination of 4 types of earthy mushrooms, eggplant, sweet potato, zucchini, caramelised onion topped with a soft gooey delicious mixture of cheeses with a perfectly balanced flavour.  So warm and homey, simple but amazing.

Although we were actually quite full after all this, Sime wanted to see what the desserts were like (our theory is sometimes the desserts can let down an otherwise great experience so he wanted to test it).  He asked the waitress to let the Chef choose a dessert for him or make whatever he liked, which I thought was a great idea.  We received a chocolate flan with chestnut ice cream, burnt caramel sauce, poached pears and a tuile (crispy wafer) that had a citrus flavour (sorry – no photo, we tucked in too quickly!).  The texture of the flan was lovely and creamy and tasted great with the caramel sauce and ice cream (naturally I had to have a taste..), overall a great dessert.

The service was friendly, both waitresses who served us were lovely and attentive.  The food arrived at perfectly spaced intervals to allow us to enjoy each dish.  As I said it’s a relaxed venue which we really enjoyed; from a food point of view we felt that that the Chef really did justice to the quality ingredients.  In total our bill came to about $100 including tip.  Like I said, for those of you who expect linen and fine dining service when spending this much, this isn’t the place for you.  However, if you like to dine out with a Chef who knows how to  make good quality ingredients shine, we highly recommend a visit to Cocotte.

Loo review – the restaurant has its toilets at the back which I think it shares with the rest of the centre.  Clean but in need of an update 6/10.

Robina Quays Shopping Centre, 316 Robina Parkway (cnr Markeri Street and Robina Parkway) 5689 1366

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