The hardest part of doing a restaurant review is deciding what to order. This is especially true for a place like Coco Wood Grill, where menu items include seafood enchiladas, soft shell crab tacos, macadamia-crusted swordfish, three unique riffs on an old fashioned, house-made red sangria, and many a martini to choose from. I wanted to try everything, but I’m only one person with one stomach and one liver. So I ordered a banana rum old fashioned to start and seafood enchiladas for dinner.
The banana rum old fashioned was the first thing to arrive at my table. My waitress brought the drink in an old-fashioned glass covered with a cocktail smoke top. She flamed my lidded drink table side, embers flying downwind, until the glass filled with smoke. When she removed the lid, the smoke slowly rose from my glass, leaving a hint of smokiness on the nose.
Coco Wood Grill’s Banana Rum Old Fashioned contains the bourbon and bitters of a traditional old fashioned, but adds rum and banana liquor into the mix. They’ve effectively made a Tiki version of an old fashioned, and I love it. The drink, made with Maker’s Mark, is perfectly balanced. The rum and banana are noticeable, but don’t pull too much attention from the beloved bourbon taste of a classic old fashioned. I savor every sip as I wait for my meal to arrive.
The seafood enchiladas arrived stuffed with scallops, shrimp, spinach, ricotta, mozzarella, and Parmesan cheese, all rolled in pasta sheets, which would technically make these more like manicotti, but they were crisped up and topped with poblano cream sauce like a burrito or chimichanga. This dish is Italian-Mexican-coastal fusion at its best. The light seafood, along with the strips of crisp-cooked squash and carrots served on the side, balance out the rich cheeses in these enchiladas.
After I finished my meal and cocktail, I leaned back in my chair and took in the scene. The well-landscaped patio doesn’t have a view of the Gulf of Mexico, but it feels like a tropical oasis just the same. I heard a flock of wild green parrots land in a nearby palm tree, squawking away. It’s the perfect ending to my work day. But wait, we’re not done.
We haven’t had dessert yet.
My waitress tells me they have a piña colada bread pudding for dessert that’s flambéed table side. And who can say no to that?
I can’t believe how much this dessert tastes like a piña colada. The hostess tells me this is because they soak the bread in piña colada mix.
From my cocktail through dessert, everything about my meal at Coco Wood Grill was special, and I couldn’t ask for better service. You can tell a lot about a restaurant by the way they treat a customer who requests a table outside after a rainstorm when all the tables and chairs are still wet and literally no one else is seated outside. I normally wouldn’t ask for such a thing, but I practically have no immune system post-transplant, so it had to be done. If the hostess was annoyed that several towels were needed to wipe down my table, I couldn’t tell. And if my waitress was put out by having to walk outside just to serve me, she didn’t show it. Coco Wood Grill is a class act.
Coco Wood Grill, 17814 Gulf Blvd., Redington Shores. 727-498-6005, cocowoodgrill.com