YOU know what it’s like.
You spend ages and ages pondering the menu options, choosing then re-choosing the dish you think you’ll most enjoy.
And then, just when you feel confident you’ve sent the perfect order to the kitchen, the table opposite is served and you wished you’d gone with their choice...
Well it’s a problem you can neatly avoid at Chesterfield’s newest restaurant, COCO bar bistro on Corporation Street.
Based in the town’s theatreland, just down from The Pomegranate, there’s a touch of elegant drama about the restaurant’s chandelier lighting, but the overall feel is clean, modern and relaxed.
They say there’s nothing new under the sun, but COCO definitely brings something a little different to Chesterfield’s restaurant scene with its modern British tapas menu, designed to serve British food with a twist.
Diners can choose from small plates such as goats’ cheese tart with red onion jam or steamed mussels with chilli and ginger, at £3.95 each, or choose six for £17.95.
COCO also offers larger plates at £9.95 each or 2 for £17.95. Choices here include 48-hour blade of beef hot-pot with stout bread; braised leek and black pepper sausage with black pudding mash and artichoke and purple potato risotto.
Faced with so many tempting-sounding options, we went for six selections from the small-plate tapas menu.
Initially we had concerns over quite how diminutive the small plates would be, but we needn’t have worried as the half-dozen dishes were more than enough to feed two of us.
With them all spread out on the table before us, it was hard to know which to try first, but my eye was caught by the beautifully presented glazed belly pork with apple three ways.
The soft yielding meat was complemented perfectly with a shard of crisp crackling and apple that was sweet and satisfying.
The mini smoked-cheese and pancetta burgers were as sweet to look at as they were delicious to devour and the craft-beer battered cod was perfect: crisped batter hiding perfectly cooked white fish.
Both these dishes came with side sauces that really enhanced the flavours too.
Not all the dishes reached quite these heights and the pesto puff pastry sticks with balsamic dip - though well flavoured - would have been better served warm.
My partner also thought the mini rack of BBQ ribs should have had a more unctuous, sweeter, sauce, but I was more than happy with the tender meat that slid effortlessly off the bone.
What was an undisputed triumph though was the plate of scallops and black pudding.
Shellfish that almost melted in the mouth was paired with excellent pudding that was earthy and softly spiced.
The beauty of the small plates menu is that if gives you a chance to try different dishes you may not normally choose if just picking one.
And sharing them between you brings a friendly informality to dining out
Although we hadn’t quite managed to clear all our six plates, the lure of the desserts (all £5) proved just too much.
Splitting the pecan tart with praline ice cream and coffee syrup between us, two spoons soon made light work of the excellent pastry, crunchy nuts and rich filling. The ice cream alone was heavenly.
Now my only dilemma is deciding which day I’m going to go back.
RATING: Four stars
COCO BAR BISTRO
26-28 Corporation Street,
Chesterfield, S41 7TP
Tel: (01246) 200933