Coco’s Cantina feels like a local: a warm, friendly, dark and ever busy one. Service is capable and welcoming. The decor is a mish-mash of gingham tablecloths and vintage odds and ends, and it works, with more cosy corners than seems logical. This is not fine dining, but it is very good dining – and priced accordingly.
There are two pastas ($18 entrée, $26 main), a freshly made antipasto selection (vegetarian or not). There is a risotto, sometimes. There is a huge, half chicken roasted and set atop a pile of panzanella, moist with tomato juice ($32). One feels like Fred Flintstone at the end of it, victorious over a pile of picked over bones. There is a steak ($30), served with a generous smear of anchovy butter, fries and salad. There are sides – polenta chips with creamy aioli and a fresh, sharp rocket salad with slivers of parmesan ($8 each).
Coco’s isn’t doing anything groundbreaking, but they’re doing what they’re doing well, with care and thought – a rarity in itself. Top ingredients, generous servings. We particularly like the pudding menu, all delicate vintage champagne bowls with fresh gelato, wodges of creamy tiramisu. NS
HOURS Tuesday to Saturday, 5pm until late.
ADDRESS 376 Karangahape Road, Newton, ph 300-7582. www.cocoscantina.co.nz
IMPORTANT DETAILS No bookings – be sure to get there early on Saturday nights.