Cocody plays up the classic combination of tomato and burrata cheese, blanching a whole tomato, peeling it, and filling its cavity with imported Italian burrata, a sliver of tomato (sun-dried to concentrate its flavor), and adorned the plate with fried basil leaves, heirloom cherry tomatoes, and dollops of basil pesto ($19). (Photo by Mickael Zibi )
Edwin Bosso and his stylish wife Edith are the owners of the new restaurant Cocody Restaurant and Bar. (Photo by Mickael Zibi )
NNext visit, I’ll make my way to the bar and order the playful gourmet lollipops. (Photo by Mickael Zibi)
Cocody co-chefs Lionel Debon and David Denis get to work. (Photo by Mickael Zibi )
End your meal with Cocody's Philadelphia vanilla cheesecake mille-feuille with lemon ginger drops – crystal sugar ($17). (Photo by Mickael Zibi )
What does one do when they’ve reached the pinnacle of career and personal success, and with it the financial freedom coupled with the luxury of time to devote yourself to a wholly new endeavor? If you’re Edwin Bosso and his stylish wife Edith, you decide to open a restaurant. Their labor of love, Cocody Restaurant and Bar, is no prosaic new Houston restaurant.
The glittering fine dining enclave in River Oaks Shopping Center is named for the tony suburb of Abidjan on Africa’s Ivory Coast where the Bossos spent their childhood. Armed with a graduate degree from Rice University, Edwin Bosso — the founder of Myrtle Consulting Group — has traversed the globe, residing in countries from Mexico to the Netherlands, Brazil and Burkina Faso before settling down in Houston. While the design-minded Edith Bosso obtained her haute couture bachelor’s degree from ESMOD in Paris.
With seemingly no expense sparred, the Bossos hired Winn Wittman Architects of Austin to build out the 7,000-square-foot space inside with 2,000 more square feet in the courtyard. Houston-based Nina Magon Studio fashioned the new restaurant’s interiors, which give a subtle nod to the center’s Art Deco era.
By day, sheer-covered windows diffuse the natural light in the dining room, where you can sink into a plush ivory-hued chair or a curvaceous rose-colored banquette. After dark, the marble-topped, gold-edged tables are cloaked with crisp white cloths, and the dining room glistens with hundreds of crystal lights that look like lotus pads shimmering beneath a copper-clad tray ceiling. In the wine room, which doubles as a private dining area, a stunning display of bottles adorns Cocody’s glass walls.
Although you can barely see it (save for a sliver of a window in the dining room), I was awed by the spectacular kitchen designed by French-born and trained co-chefs Lionel Debon and David Denis. Nearly every inch is clad in stainless steel (save for underfoot), with state-of-the-art commercial-grade induction cooktops of the sort that Michelin-starred establishments in Europe have used for years. These wonders utilize electromagnets to efficiently and swiftly heat cookware without the pollution of fossil fuels. Induction cooking also helps to keep the temperature-controlled kitchen cooler.
Chef Denis is joined at Cocody by his brother Sylvain Denis, who serves as sommelier and operations manager. If these names sound familiar, you might have dined at their former Houston restaurant Le Mistral, or perhaps their current Bistro 555, Rouge Wine Bar, or Artisans Cuisine & Savoir-Faire. Chef Debon earned the proverbial pleats on his toque by working in some of Europe’s Michelin-starred restaurants before joining the Denis brothers at Le Mistral.
While the kitchen is clearly grounded in French technique, the Cocody menu offers a globally inspired array of dishes that the chefs spent the better part of a year tweaking. Offerings are the same at lunch and dinner. Light starters include thin slices of organic beets simmered in orange juice to bring out their sweetness, served with bright dots of yellow beet purée, orbs of Montchevre goat’s cheese and toasted hazelnuts and frisée tossed in a hazelnut vinaigrette ($18).
Playing up the classic combination of tomato and burrata cheese, the Cocody chefs have blanched a whole tomato, peeled it and filled its cavity with imported Italian burrata, a sliver of tomato (sun-dried to concentrate its flavor), and adorned the plate with fried basil leaves, heirloom cherry tomatoes and dollops of basil pesto ($19). The scallops, fished from the chilly waters off the East Coast, are seared and plated atop a verdant pool of English pea purée and brought to the table under a glass cloche that emits a subtle cloud of cherry wood smoke when lifted before Spanish chorizo broth is poured atop ($23).
Entrees include fish, fowl, pasta, risotto, beef and lamb. I indulged in the latter, a saddle cut (loin) of lamb raised in Colorado, served with black garlic au jus, Niçoise-style potato gnocchi and bright green florets of Romanesco tossed in a beurre noisette ($72). On the lighter side, the Patagonia salmon — cooked medium rare, unless you request otherwise — is napped with miso yuzu sauce and perched atop a light fluffy spinach souffle ($32).
The wine list embraces grape regions all over the globe but concentrates more than half its offerings on French imports. If you’re partial to champagne, lucky you. Sylvian Denis has priced most of them competitively.
The talented mixologists have a lot of game too, crafting cocktails such as an old fashioned made with Jefferson’s Very Small Batch bourbon and Rittenhouse rye, presented in a smoke-filled glass box ($18) and the Summer Negroni with Mount Gay Black Barrel Rum, Campari, sherry and mint, accented with an ice cube frozen with flecks of edible gold leaf ($18).
Next visit, I’ll make my way to the bar and order the playful gourmet lollipops. Four to an order, there are a dozen appealing options in hors d’oeuvres-size portions, such as black truffle with brie de Meaux, honeycomb and a mini baguette ($25) and Hudson Valley foie gras sushi with raspberry vinaigrette ($22).
Cocody Restaurant & Bar can be found at 1971 W. Gray. It is open 11 am to 10 pm Tuesdays and Wednesdays, 11 am to 11 pm Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays and 11 am to 3 pm for Sunday brunch.