Coco Bistro Providenciales, Turks & Caicos IslandsRestaurant Reviewed Summer 2014
A very popular appetiser is Coco Bistro 'style' Tuna Sashimi
Tucked away as it is in the heart of a coconut grove, you’re not likely to just stumble across this enchanting, gastronomic gem. The striking Mediterranean-style architecture in a dramatic shade of tangerine-orange contrasted with a brilliant cobalt blue first comes into view. Then, think palm trees … so many they create a virtual canopy. This natural ceiling of palm fronds swings and sashays in the sultry breezes and sounds like a gentle rain fall.
Coco Bistro is the essence of al fresco dining, with a natural, tropically-inspired ambiance of contemporary chic. The undulating din of relaxed and contented diners is in perfect harmony with a unique playlist, which smoothly vacillates from easygoing reggae to the crooning of Frank Sinatra to the modern and contemporary stylings of John Mayer.
There’s even a resident feline called Coco – what else? He skillfully and purposely scurries from table to table, ready to take advantage of any morsel that may auspiciously plummet from your table.
Spicy Shrimp Soft Tacos at Coco Bistro become Lobster Soft Tacos during the "Lobster Season"
Reservations are always recommended and it’s easy to see why – Coco Bistro started opening at 5:30 just to keep up with the demand. Executive Chef Stuart Gray (read his Featured Chef story in the Providenciales Dining Guide) and General Manager Steven Murray make each dining experience so seamless and memorable your return is inevitable. Coming back creates an overwhelming sensation of déjà vu. This is style and substance. A Continental Caribbean menu boasts the freshest local ingredients including fish and an exceptional cache of avant garde meat cuts prepared by Head Chef Matthew Gaynor and Sous Chef Reagon Palmer.
The breadsticks alone will bring you back … piping hot; these fresh pre-dinner indulgences are stuffed with a savoury pesto and Parmesan filling with EVOO and balsamic for dunking. Resistance is futile, yet discipline and restraint are essential because you will definitely want to allocate space for all three courses.
Our server Kirk appeared and flashed his broad Jamaican smile. After living fifteen years here, “This is home, yeah.” he said with a grin. In fact, he told us about a conversation he had just had with earlier guests, “I guess maybe it’s because of the different nationalities and the blend – make it so sweet around here, yeah?” Then, almost as if on cue, "One Love" by Bob Marley began to play. It was almost surreal.
Coco Bistro 'style' Tuna Sashimi is an island favorite
We nicknamed him Captain Kirk, although I was disappointed to learn that we were not the first to give him that alias. Then the Captain gave his orders, “Sit back and enjoy.”
In season, Lobster Tacos are the most popular appetiser on the menu. Off-season, the Spicy Shrimp Soft Tacos have become an equally formidable contender. Pre-assembled and ready-to-eat this taco twosome was stuffed with shrimp and plenty of fresh and crunchy vegetables, fresh guacamole, sour cream and a wonderful Pineapple Tomato Salsa. Diving in with both hands my fellow diner simply confessed, “I’m a believer … I don’t need a fork, I don’t need chopsticks.”
Another menu classic is the Coco Bistro Style Ahi Tuna Sashimi. My husband remarked, “It looks like a lot, but it’s not a lot”. He raved over the fresh, light combination of thin, melt-in-your-mouth slices of Ahi Tuna with red onions, vine ripe tomatoes, scallion, tobiko, fresh cilantro and a wasabi mayo kick, served on a crispy tortilla shell.
My Peking Duck Egg Rolls were outrageously savoury, one bite into these extra-crunchy rolls revealed plenty of tender, juicy duck that virtually dissolved on my tongue. Served atop a refreshing Cucumber Salad the accompanying Mango Hoisin (A.K.A. Chinese BBQ sauce) Dipping Sauce was the perfect union of sweet and salty sumptuousness.
Coco Bistro's Roast Lamb Rack with Herb Crust
Across the table the Nightly Special Starter of Fresh Local Yellowfin Tuna Sashimi was the epitome of simplicity. Tuna this fresh needs no ballyhoo; thinly sliced it tastes like ‘budda’ with the venerable trimmings of pickled ginger, soy and wasabi and served with a fabulous Seaweed Salad. “Who would not think they died and went to heaven” my favourite dining companion cooed, and added “The perfect precursor for whatever comes next.”
I would be remiss if I did not hail Stuart’s infamous Caesar Salad. It is without a doubt, a staple on Coco Bistro’s menu and comes with a warning. “No wimps please!” And while the list of this Caesar’s components may be run-of-the-mill … the end result is anything but. Generous portions of all the usual suspects include – crunchy romaine hearts, whole crisp strips of thick, smoky bacon, whole anchovies and generous shards of Parmesan drenched in one of the most voluptuous and zesty dressings you’ve ever planted on your palate. One of my husband’s all-time favourites, he calls it, “Unquestionably the best – the Cadillac of Caesar salads.”
A 2011 Flowers Pinot Noir was simply ordered as, “Oh, the usual?” Bold and beautiful, lush and lovely with great mouth-feel my fellow dining companion affectionately calls this his “absolute, world-time favourite house wine.” A 2012 Meomi Pinot Noir arrived in the Flower’s wake, perfectly balanced with notes of berries and oak and dazzling, deep garnet hues.
Fresh Local Yellowfin Tuna served rare grilled at Coco Bistro
When it comes to supreme cuts of meat prepared in innovative and distinctive ways, no one does it like Stuart. And when it comes to sauces … they are his absolute genius and forte. I hit the bonanza with The Simply Grilled Black Angus 16 oz Bone-in Prime Cut Rib-Eye. This was one BIG slab of magnificent beef that took me back to the days of the Flintstones cartoons. Served with delectably delicious shoestring fries, garden vegetables, grilled portabella mushrooms and Bermuda onions … just how do you top that? With a palate-blowing rich and creamy Brandy Black Peppercorn Sauce … yabba-dabba-doo!
My fellow diner hailed her tuna as “The filet mignon of fish.” This towering loin measured in at two inches thick. Atop a mound of wasabi mashed potatoes this Rare Grilled Local Yellowfin Tuna loin was mouth-wateringly tender – just lightly seared. You simply don’t need to do anything more to it. It came with grilled asparagus, sweet peppers and a scrumptious Lime Hoisin BBQ sauce that my fellow diner later revealed, “Oh, now it comes” referring to the palatable ‘afterburn’ of the wasabi heat.
While your eyes may be first drawn to the artistic brushstroke of beet root across the plate, they are quickly diverted to the eye-catching Roast Lamb Rack. A crisp and savoury herb crust complemented the moist and succulent lamb perfectly. A side of goat cheese scalloped potatoes … yes, goat cheese, and tender French green beans, basked in a pool of delectable Caicos Lager Onion Sauce.
Fragrant and full of far-flung and exotic flavours, a new addition to the menu has received rave reviews. Tandoori Rubbed Mahi Mahi filet with an aromatic chickpea potato cake, roasted fennel seed green beans, lime ginger beurre blanc and tropical fruit salsa brought about sighs and moans. My favourite dining companion was back on cloud nine again, “it’s heavenly” she simply whispered.
Coco Bistro's legendary Coconut Pie is a prefect finish to dining under the palm trees
Coco Bistro is famous for their infamous Coconut Pie, and why embellish it with one sauce when you can embellish it with three. We also indulged in some dessert libations including Irish Coffee, Chocolate Coffee and a couple of divine and potentially dangerous but decadent Dessert Martinis – Double Espresso and Vanillatini.
So if you are reading this from beyond these coordinates with the anticipation of a Coco Bistro experience anytime soon … make your reservation, and make it NOW.
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