Coco’s Cantina, K Road

I often think I’m not ‘alternative’ enough to comfortably stroll down K road. I don’t own any Ray Ban wayfarers (or imitations), there is sufficient room for air to circulate between my legs and any pair of jeans I choose to chuck on AND I am prone to smiling for no reason. So it was with a little anxiousness that my partner-in-crime Chris and I ambled down K Road after work in need of a refreshing beverage. This anxiousness was heightened by the fact that 1) I was dressed as “yuppy” as you can imagine in business attire (as un-alternative as possible) and 2) when I popped into a store (and noticed the bleary-eyed shop assistant noting down an order for a “pipe”) to ask for directions to Coco’s all I got was a mumbled hack of an answer. Turns out it was right across the road…

With a false courage we strode through the entrance and perched ourselves on retro-style barstools, to be greeted by a somewhat stern, yet very likeable, bar manager (we assumed). I ordered the Galbraiths Munich Lagere, a local brew which is a refreshing, flavoursome lager (especially when compared to the more mainstream NZ beers out there) and it went down all too well. Chris ordered some cocktail I’d never heard of and, as it turned out, neither had our welcoming hostess! She offered to put it together and even offered to Google the unknown mixture, at which point Chris was unsure whether he really wanted it and I told him it was probably much easier to order off the cocktail menu in front of him. The relaxed-looking regular next to us laughed at this confusion and explained that it seemed, to him, as if Chris had tried ordering a drink that maybe he’d first had whilst inebriated and couldn’t remember what it was actually called. It didn’t help that I accused Chris of making up words to flummox our patient hostess. So Chris ordered off the menu and we were all happy.

On first appearances Coco’s is interesting and funky and then, as you sit, drink and take in the general vibe… it just gets more and more awesome! Coco’s uses its small space very well and, accompanied by a very large mirror behind the bar which makes the space look much larger than it is, manages to balance its bar/restaurant offerings extremely well and cater for both an after-work drinks crowd and those wanting a pleasant-with-a-funky-twist dining experience. Feeling rather famished we ordered some polenta chips – which were so freakin’ awesome and also accompanied by an aioli that would give the much-loved Burger Fuel version a serious run for its money – as well as the asparagus with garlic and chilli. These tapas-style orders came out looking fantastic and, as we found out, tasted even better! It was right then that I decided I would definitely return with my significant other for a relaxed dinner out.

Once we’d become accustomed to our surroundings we started to get the feeling we were at some dinner party with a bunch of newly-acquired (and almost too cool to be talking to us) friends. Nothing seemed to be a worry and everyone was just chilling out in their own time/frame of mind. At one point, Chris pointed out to the bar manager/lady that she seemed to know absolutely everybody there. This was greeted by a “Hmmmm, no. I don’t know… them!” accompanied by her pointing towards a couple who had only just recently arrived. This, bearing in mind the fact that the place was slowly but surely filling to capacity on a Tuesday night, is no mean feat! But I would say it is probably indicative of how awesome this place is and how easily one could quickly become a regular. If I lived a few kilometers closer I’d be sure to become one!

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