Restaurants / Openings

Houston’s Most Glamorous New Restaurant Is a River Oaks Stunner — Cocody Wows With Nina Magon’s Design Forward Decor

An Uber Sophisticated Dining Enclave Like No Other

BY // 12.23.23

We are having brunch on a Sunday at the spanking new Cocody restaurant with designer Nina Magon and the BeDesign duo Adrian Dueñas and Marcelo Saenz as a parade of diners drops by our table. Fans are declaring their pleasure not only with the French-inspired menu but also with Magon’s design forward decor. Several of these dinners had dinner at Cocody on Friday and returned for Sunday brunch and many reveal that they are swooning as much over the decor as the food.

(PaperCity Houston’s restaurant sage Laurann Claridge wrote about Cocody’s food earlier.)

The whimsical lounge at Cocody, the French-inspired new restaurant in River Oaks Shopping Center. (Photo courtesy of Nina Magon Studio))
The whimsical lounge at Cocody, the French-inspired new restaurant in River Oaks Shopping Center. (Photo courtesy of Nina Magon Studio))

One might have thought that River Oaks Shopping Center had more than enough restaurants with longtime stalwarts Brasserie 19 and Epicurean Cafe; Perry’s Steakhouse; newcomers Zanti Cucina Italiana, Albi and Dallas import Hudson House; and whatever reincarnation becomes of the old La Griglia space. But with Houston’s burgeoning population (100,000 new residents annually), there appears to be room for every taste and every style in this one restaurant mecca.

Enter Cocody, a restaurant like no other on the bustling West Gray corridor. It’s an uber sophisticated dining enclave that in its design gives a subtle nod to the River Oaks Shopping Center’s Art Deco origins.

Owners Edith and Edwin Boss tapped Austin architect Winn Wittman for the task of transforming the 7,000-square-foot space into a dramatic enclave of sophisticated dining.

“The Bossos wanted to create a place that you wouldn’t find anywhere in the U.S., not to mention Texas,” Whitman says in a statement. “They encouraged the design team to draw inspiration from far-flung and unexpected sources around the world.”

Whitman brought in Magon, internationally renowned interior designer and United States ambassador to the prestigious Maison et Objet in Paris next month, to join the team. With that, Nina Magon Studio developed the vision, concept, design details and specifications of the hard and soft finishes for the interiors of Cocody including the Venetian plaster walls, backlit marble elements and curved brass.

IMG_3051 (Photo by (Photo courtesy of Nina Magon Studio))
Chef David Denis, designer Nina Magon, Chef Lionel Debon in the Cocody kitchen that the chefs designed. (Photo courtesy of Nina Magon Studio))

Polished metal features in shades of gold and pink, including mirrored champagne brass-colored arches and the golden horseshoe-shaped bar, Magon notes, pay homage to Paris’ Plaza Athénée, one of Edith Bosso’s favorite hotels.

“We had to create the vision based on what the clients were asking for and then we handled most of the creativity,” Magon says. “They wanted something very European, something that is very unique to Texas. She loves  glam. She wanted something glamorous but also very European.”

Indeed, on a return visit to Cocody with friends who are restaurant connoisseurs, they were besotted with the decor. “This is beautiful!” was their refrain.

Another view to the chef's table dining room in Cocody at River Oaks Shopping Center. (Photo courtesy of Nina Magon Studio))
Another view to the chef’s table dining room in Cocody at River Oaks Shopping Center. (Photo courtesy of Nina Magon Studio))

Every detail has been carefully conceived and executed to relay a unique elegance. Consider, for example, the sparkling canopy of crystal lights that resemble lily pads hung from a copper-clad tray ceiling . The installation of the Visio chandelier, Magon, allows took a full crew several days to complete.

The floor plan at Cocody includes the bar on entry, the sophisticated main dining room, the playful lounge with an image of the Mona Lisa with a lollipop, a chef’s table dining room and patio dining.

Several of the design elements represent a joint effort between Magon and Dueñas, who are practically professional partners, in particular the patio furnishings.

IMG_3047 (Photo by (Photo courtesy of Nina Magon Studio))
BeDesign’s Adrian Dueñas strolls through the Cocody patio, the latest restaurant to join the throng in River Oaks Shopping Center. (Photo courtesy of Nina Magon Studio))

“I knew I wanted to use the iconic outdoor yacht and furniture brand Paola Lenti,” Magon says. “So Adrian took us to the garden in Meda and after seeing the beauty of the product in an installation, I knew immediately what I wanted to specify for the project.”

The result is an infusion of contemporary design in the space that previously served as a breezeway between sections of the Art Deco shopping center.

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