In ancient South American cultures, the cocoa bean defined the first relationship between chocolate and romance, where the Mayans created a mystical elixir using ground cocoa beans mixed with black pepper, vanilla, and water. This exclusive bean was enjoyed as a divine beverage served at sacred betrothal ceremonies, revered as a currency of trade, and the colonial Spaniards kept its production secret for nearly one hundred years after its initial discovery. By the eve of the 18th century, every European country produced delicacies courtesy of the cocoa bean, acknowledged in Latin as Theobroma Cacao, literally translated as ‘food of the gods.’
With the evolution of this special bean into a mainstream product of mass consumption, the indulgent presence of cocoa is widely enjoyed, yet wildly forgotten, until the food-loving gurus at Gastronomica answered these long forgotten prayers with the opening of the latest dining destination concept, Cocoa Room. Also the creators behind the ever-so-delectable Slider Station, Open Flame Kitchen, and Burger Boutique, The Cocoa Room marks a brilliant new addition to the chain of successful dining hubs.
A simple ode to the distinguished cocoa bean is elevated throughout every aspect of the restaurant. Besides an engineered dessert menu executed to incite unknown revelations of bountiful flavors, the atmosphere at Cocoa Room illustrates an esoteric story of ancient trade routes and rich pirate treasures. Shades of rich russet, deep entrancing mocha overtures in rich ostrich leather encase the cushioned seats. Designed to resurrect the ceremonial seating traditions of Native South American cultures, the tables cleverly frame the outline of the cozy space in a familial nature, showcasing elevated ceilings completely covered in blocks of dark auburn wooden sheets carved in the shape of blocks of chocolate. With heavenly slender light fixtures softly draped from above, the mood completely transforms come sundown, as the walls are illuminated with dimmed lights, and the ornate Creole style cutlery and silverware glamorously glimmer in response.
In line with the spirit of colonial refinement, the dining menu denotes the finest selection of international riches. Showcasing a myriad of Oriental, European, Western, and Far Eastern delicacies ensured to appeal to a wide variety of gourmet fanatics, the dining and beverage menu is a handpicked mixture celebrating the best of the New World, a globalized world, where one is able to sample authentic worldly flavors while comfortably seated in a enchanting space. Before the feast begins, each guest is presented with a ritual-inspired ‘welcome bread’, freshly baked and piping hot, to be broken and dipped in the fine selection of virgin olive oil and tangy balsamic vinegar.
For starters, one may indulge in European fancies such as the Zurich Style Veal Rosti, delivering an addictive flavor with pan-fried, tenderly-crumbed mini veal cutlets drizzled with an aromatic mushroom and herb sauce embedded on a blanket of potato fritters. Flat breads are prepared in true Italian style; thin and light as air, the Margherita Con Panna is rich with San Marzano tomato sauce, basil leaves, mozzarella and freshly grated sharp Parmesan cheese. As a lighter option, the Burrata, a cream infused buffalo mozzarella, makes for an impeccable choice, especially when combined with flavorful organic cherry tomatoes, and the crispy flame grilled country bread. Created for avid lovers of erupting flavors, the Phuket Salad is a magnificent Asian rendition with Chinese garden cabbage, pataya papaya, cassava, crunchy wanton strips, crispy fried chicken, roasted peanuts, fried egg noodle, and a secret special Phuket dressing.
Upon enticing the taste buds with the starters selection, the main courses are truly fit for festive feasting. Slow Roasted Lamb Shank, marinated and rubbed down with roasted almonds, fragrant parsley, lemon gremolata, an Arabic freekeh, and black raisins, the tender meat simply melts off the bone. To continue the Arabic feast, the Kuwaiti Spiced Grilled Black Tiger Shrimps make for the perfect compliment. The succulent tiger prawns are served with an herbed rice with the ever so traditional slightly burnt hakooka, spiced Kuwaiti maabooch with a careful concoction of Arabic and western spices.
Venturing into the wild American west, the Retro Cheese Burger is an indulgent pleasure, as one is invited to add their own preferences to a quarter pounder blend patty simply draped in American cheese, iceberg lettuce, fresh tomato and white onions and a fluffy sesame potato bun. Topping options include pickle, jalapeno rings, caramelized onion, jalapeno aioli, ketchup and mustard. This unforgettable burger is accompanied by the famous crunchy, shoestring fries. Also offering various Italian specialties, the Chicken Milanese is a must-have, presented with a modern twist as the tender Parmesan and herb-infused crumbed pan-fried chicken breast is served with a side of marinara sauce and shoestring fries.
To conclude a luscious feast, one must never forget that any given visit to Cocoa Room is never complete without indulging in the tantalizing dessert menu, where the ode to the cocoa bean is actually an orchestrated masterpiece. From the Oreo crusted fondant, with homemade caramelized white chocolate ice cream or the Nutella Soufflé, where the melted Nutella simply takes over the senses, each option is a well-practiced verse in the language of the amorous cocoa bean. The latest addition to the dessert menu, the Chocolate Lava, is literally an explosion of cocoa, which could only be described as dangerously hypnotizing, and harmoniously decorated with real vanilla bean ice cream. When choosing to deviate away from chocolate, a very difficult choice is rewarded with Red Velvet Pancakes, a once-upon-a-time urban legend in the dessert world. With creamy cheese frosting and almond crumble, this dessert option also makes for a delicious breakfast. Another fun reward includes the Fondue Pops, where perhaps a guilt-ridden visitor may foolishly attempt to sample nine illustrious flavors on one tray, including chocolate, strawberry, caramelized mango, Nutella, fudge, key lime, red velvet, banoffee, and cotton candy to be dipped in a candlelit pot of enticing molten milk chocolate. Editor’s note: this guilt-ridden visitor will ravish said tray, and leave completely guilt-free, happily intoxicated by the clever mix of sweets immersed in the dreamy chocolate dip.
In conclusion, should one thank the ancient Mayans for growing the elusive cocoa bean, or should one thank the discoverer Cortez for bringing to Europe the first cocoa in 1528? Perhaps one should actually thank the industrial revolution, as the introduction of the steam engine during the time mechanized cocoa bean grinding, reducing production costs thus making chocolate affordable to the masses. One should thank all of the above; yet pay absolute heed to the masterminds at Gastronomica, as Cocoa Room is a tribute to a forgotten era that transcends a simple process of consumption. An experience at Cocoa Room is an elevated occurrence, where the dining is fit for kings, queens, Cortez, and the ancient Mayans themselves.
Besides the scrumptious dinner and dessert menu, Cocoa Room also serves an unforgettable breakfast. For your Cocoa experience, head to the famous Slider Street located on the ‘Gulf Road Strip’ across from the Seif Palace in Kuwait City. For more information, follow the socially active cocoa beans on Twitter @CocoaRoom.