Cocotte is a well put-together sort of place; a very Singaporean sort of place. It’s one that tries to be more French than France itself (or more France than French? Interesting reversal…), and reflects that curiously Singaporean practice of buying atmosphere rather than creating it. Expensive WMF cutlery is housed in equally expensive Le Creuset-stamped containers; the walls are adorned with Rue de la XYZ street signs and antiquated food ads; the air vibrates with the tribal bass of circuitous house music; the seats are carefully mismatched pastel shades, the tables wooden and heavily varnished. When we visited it was populated by groups of Singaporean students and yuppies, all sharing entrées and shouting to be heard above the music. It was, in a word, contrived.
Being a vegetarian in Cocotte is not the most exciting of propositions. Our options are limited to salad, dessert or cheese. Or all three. Dessert seemed like the most viable option, not least because all the sweet stuff was sensibly dumped on a standalone dessert and pastry counter – a sure sign that they take their sugar and fat seriously. More to the point, we had already eaten.
According to the menu, the chocolate mousse (SGD 7.00) is 72% cocoa. Whether it is or not could be a matter of endless debate; all I know is that the serving was large, too large for a dessert of such richness. The bitterness of 72% quickly turned into the sweat-inducing sourness of desperately trying to finish something that is pretty much unfinishable (we resorted to ordering coffee to try and propel us through/it down… Didn’t work). Such a struggle was not helped by the fact that it was more chocolate torte (or the filling thereof) than chocolate mousse. There was none of the whimsical lightness of a mousse, the sort that feels delicate, light, and fluffy on the tongue. No, this was as sombre and ungainly as a sumo wrestler in stilettos. With more than half of the (plastic) tub to go, the joy of eating had degenerated into something that befits the word “cloying”.
I was somewhat taken by the rather voluminous chocolate, peanut butter, and banana cake (SGD 9.00), also sniggeringly referred to as “The Fat Elvis”. I have no idea why. This slice certainly gave the plate supporting it a good workout – three layers of (dry, borderline stale at the outer edge) sponge and three layers of banana (flavoured jam?) and peanut butter filling sat under a thick chocolate frosting. The frosting led the flavour charge, all but annihilating the sweetness of the banana and the saltiness of the peanut b. It would have worked much better as either chocolate and banana or chocolate and peanut butter, but not all three. What could have been a cinch for Elvis, was a struggle for me to finish. And that’s saying something.
I found Cocotte to be loud and imitative, in both ambience and flavours. The desserts we tried delivered a sucker punch of chocolatey sweetness, inducing more sweat than they did satisfaction. This annoyed me slightly, as it seemed like the owners had prioritised the furnishings over the flavours. With the menu being a void for vegetarians, I can only wonder what the savoury stuff tastes like.
2 Dickson Road (located inside the Wanderlust Hotel)
Open 12:00-14:00 & 18:00-22:00 Monday & Wednesday-Friday; 12:00-17:00 & 18:00-22:00 Saturday-Sunday; CLOSED Tuesday