There are three main reasons to visit Coco Sala: the chocolate, the cocktails, and the chocolate bacon. The restaurant is a Washington mainstay, with its Metro Center location frequented by visitors and locals alike for years now.
Recently, the chocolate lounge expanded to a chocolate boutique, with a separate storefront accessible from F Street. They also opened a chocolate boutique in Union Market, and you can also buy Coco Sala’s chocolates at stores around town. And, fun fact, Coco Sala’s space is large enough to host weddings and private events.
The boutique’s modern decor abides by a black-and-red color palette with the occasional gold accent. Dimly lit with the intention of embodying romance, the chocolate lounge a great spot for drinks and dessert with a group of girls. I can certainly see 20-somethings arriving in throes to order Cosmopolitans and chocolates at the bar in an attempt to recreate a scene from Sex and the City.
But, unfortunately, aside from the chocolate, the food is pretty bad.
At brunch on this particular day, I was joined by Social Bitch Amanda Jean, the dashing Michael of The Washington Lobbyist, and the lovely Zevin, who at the time managed Marketing & Events for Coco Sala, which means this brunch was on the house.
Michael, who arrived in a vest and blazer, looked dashing and claimed he dressed to impress solely for brunch with the Bitches. My heart went aflutter. Zevin is a charming, Texas born-and-bred gentleman, who in addition to working as an events planner is also an active LGBTQ activist.
Coco Sala recently revamped its cocktail menu, with two pages of creative, saccharine concoctions. The brunch “bauble” cocktail menu features eight unique cocktails priced at $11 each, including a traditional mimosa, a ginger, vodka grapefruit cocktail, and an amber pumpkin cocktail, made with chocolate-infused vodka, pumpkin, cinnamon, all-spiced honey syrup, and egg whites.
I selected the Opal Grapefruit, made with vodka, grapefruit, fresh ginger, and a black pepper, sage-infused syrup. It was served with a white chocolate flourish perched atop the tall, thin glass.
Meanwhile, Amanda Jean ordered the Garnet Berries made with red berry, hibiscus, and bubbly. It was refreshing and a little sweet to the taste, but not overwhelmingly so. It complimented everything that was ordered perfectly without falling by the wayside.
The cocktails were all super complicated and super sweet, with all the flavors running together. However, by mistake, I was also given a glass of fresh grapefruit juice, which was fresh-squeezed and delicious.
The menu offers mimosa and Bloody Mary tasting flights and Michael opted for the Bloody flight, virgin, informing us that he gave up alcohol for Lent. My jaw dropped in horror. “I can give up anything but red wine and chocolate,” I replied with equal parts admiration and appall. The Bloody flight featured balsamic, wasabi, and bacon takes on the tomato-based cocktail.
There is also a selection of hot chocolate drinks—served hot or frozen—in dark, milk, white chocolate as well as peanut butter, salted caramel, or pumpkin spice. The coffee served at Co Co is French press coffee (Latin American, Italian, African, or decaf) from Counter Culture Coffee, and French press tea. Michael selected the French press coffee.
There are three flatbread options, and I was gunning for the steak and eggs option, but the group decided on the lox flatbread. The Parmesan flatbread was topped with a layer of hickory-smoked Scottish salmon and loaded with a salad of pickled onion, crispy capers, and lettuce. It was drizzled with a Meyer lemon and drill creme fraiche.
The salad component of the flatbread was enormous, so much so that it was difficult to locate the flatbread underneath, much less detect that it was Parmesan-flavored. The salmon tasted fine, but the salad was saturated with dressing. It was basically dripping with dressing. To clarify, I am not the dressing-on-the-side type of girl, and I found this borderline disgusting.
It came with a side of fruit, served in a little bowl. The fruit just didn’t look fresh, so I didn’t touch it. But, Michael had some.
Amanda Jean ordered the cheese magic, a cheese souffle that was “a little cheesy slice of heavy.” She adds, “It was delicate, fluffy, and mouth-wateringly delicious. It was served with a side salad featuring dried cranberries, walnuts, blue cheese, and a vinaigrette dressing—all my favorite things.” Her side salad was also a bit heavy on the dressing.
Zevin opted for his go-to favorite, the grown-up grilled cheese, which was made with toasted bread, cheddar cheese, and truffle oil and served with a side of tomato soup dipping sauce.
After wavering back-and-forth on the right entree, Michael selected the Aztec Cheese Enchiladas. The pepper cheese enchilada was topped with guava sauce, and served with a salad of avocado, shaved fennel, and mache. It was topped with melted Jalapeno jack cheese and drizzled with Chipotle chocolate ganache. Michael added the brunch was “Just OK. The enchilada was a rolled tortilla with things in it.”
For my entree, I chose the crab cakes, which are also available on the dinner menu. The crabcakes were overly breaded and overly fried. They were served with a mango salsa and sliced avocados. The mango salsa had too much dressing and was too sweet. It seems everything at Coco Sala is just overdone, with too much sauce, dressing, sugar, salt, and oil.
The true flavors of the unique pairings and ingredients should come through naturally, and they just don’t. I know my palette might be a bit more refined than the average diner, but I was disappointed by the ingredients and preparation. Similarly, I might be more health conscious than the average brunchin’ bear, but with every bite all I could think was “Fat. Sugar. Salt.” Regardless of whether it was bad for you or not, it tasted gross, which is the point.
I also requested a side of chocolate bacon, because, now that I eat bacon, I may as well enjoy the chocolate variety. There was a lot more chocolate than bacon, with the skinny, chocolate-covered strips containing hardly any meat inside.
Like the cocktails, dessert was a win at Coco Sala. Co Co Sala does chocolate and frou frou cocktails well, where they err is in the preparation of the entrees.
There are no cakes, cupcakes, croissants, or ice cream for dessert at Co Co Sala. Only chocolate bon bons, of which there are several layers in each concoction. What’s exciting is that, with each bite, you seem to uncover a new layer inside.
The Bitches favorite part of the meal was the dessert. We ordered two chocolate dishes: the Chocolate Onyx and the Latin Lover. We all loved the Latin Lover best, which had a little kick to it, but overall was sultry and sweet to the tastebuds. In the Latin lover, it was dulcey chocolate mouse, with cinnamon caramel and chocolate pecan cake inside, and a passion fruit cajeta bon bon alongside.
For the chocolate onyx, it was a dark chocolate mousse with vanilla creme brulle, chocolate caramel, crispy chocolate pearls and brownie inside. Seriously, all that, inside one chocolate square. It was TDF (to-die-for). It was served with a Earl Grey chocolate bon bon on the side.
The Bitches say: D. CoCo Sala is the Willy Wonka of restaurants, and definitely the place to go for dessert, chocolate, and frou frou cocktail concoctions. For brunch, the non-saccharine cuisine struggles to meet our standards.
929 F St. N.W.
Coco Sala serves brunch Saturdays and Sundays.