Open Mon–Fri 5pm–1am Sat 11.30am–1am Sun 11.30am–midnight
As my partner and I approached the burly bouncer manning the door at Coquine, we feared the worst… arriving for an early supper at an empty bar, the security seemed unnecessary and pretentious, even for South Kensington. However, once inside we were pleasantly surprised by friendly staff and the lavish French-themed decor created by award-winning designer Lee Broom; sumptuous petrol blue velvet, grand mirrors and chic Victorian tiles set the scene. While the ground floor lends itself to dining, the basement bar is suited to dancing and social drinking with its regular DJs and snug hideaways.
There was no crowd to speak of – just two other groups dining, so the atmosphere was initially uneasy. We put this down to Coquine having only been open two days.
The food exceeded our expectations, the menu consists of small, international tapas-style sharing plates, supported by a handful of main courses such as Lobster BLT (£13.50). Our helpful waitress suggested we share four tapas, so opted for an eclectic mix of French, Veitnemese, Japanese and South American dishes. The champion dish for us was the tomate farcies (£6), a French dish bursting with flavour. The tomatoes were sweet and juicy and the delicious silken, sausage meat filling melted in the mouth. The generous portion of Black Miso Cod (£11.50) presented on a bed of crispy greens was also a triumph – delicate and beautifully moist. I may have left Coquine pleasantly satisfied. However, as my partner’s stomach began to rumble just metres out the door we soon found ourselves in a neighbouring restaurant ravaging a bowl of chips – so I would suggest five plates.
The colourful cocktail list, created by renowned mixologist Thierry Brocher, plays on the theme of French nostalgia and uses ingredients such as liquorice and bubblegum. The menu divides the delicious creations by spirit with an array of gin, rum, whisky, vodka and Champagne-based numbers as well as a ‘fashionista-friendly slim’ range, using only fructose sugar. My favourite was the socialite (£8); despite its unusual inclusion of a whole lemon it had an intriguing sweetness.
A swish late-night cocktail lounge with fantastic food and drinks, Coquine just needs a more relaxed atmosphere and it would be on to a winner.