Just in case your French is so bad that you don’t know what Petit means – upon entry to Petit Coco Cheltenham, you’ll work out that it means ‘small’. If you use an online dictionary, it will also suggest insignificant – I paid Petit Coco Bistro Cheltenham a visit to find out how insignificant it was.
Blink and you’ll miss it – I’ve lived in Cheltenham for 5 years and had to look hard to find it, follow your feet not your nose and it appears, nestled in a regular Cheltenham basement. Down some rather tight steps, and you’re already like, ohhhhh, that’s why it’s called Petit Coco.
The entrance is cute, in you go to a atmospherically lit, umm, French Bistro. It’s so cute, very few covers in a couple of small rooms with a shabby old French Dresser (an exact version of which I actually own) and everything fabulously un-fancy – leading you to believe that this place is gonna be all about the food and rude – just like France, brilliant!
Had a cosy table near the door, squashed in between the wall and a rather dramatic fireplace. Tables were close but not too close and the atmosphere had gentle music and quiet conversation, this is a supremely intimate place.
Friendly, to the point, but really friendly waitress appears with the wine list – red please, I’m driving, so a carafe of house Merlot between us and some water – lovely. The menu, if you can call it that, is delivered to the table written on to a small table top blackboard. There are very few dishes on it – and in my mind, that means quality, not big chain, poorly cooked/defrosted quantity.
Two courses a piece – here’s how it started:
Lambs Kidneys à la Moutarde £6.35 (mustard), which arrived in a small cast iron skillet, a half moon pastry sat atop plenty of Kidneys bathing in a lovely mushroom coloured sauce, smelling of piss. Now, I feel bad about saying that, because they are kidneys after all, and they are the body’s piss processing plant. I’m a foodie thought right? I had to eat them, and glad I did – even through the subtle taste of urine. I can’t say that I loved them, for obvious reasons, but I know they were good.
I asked the waitress how they were cooked and more specifically in Sherry, like my grandmother used to. With a shrug of the shoulders I realised that the food, whilst wonderfully artisan and clearly centre stage – these guys weren’t going for stars – and for that, I loved it even more. This is a question I ask every time – it’s a good indicator of their vibe.
Comté Soufflé £6.95 – went for it! Will it or won’t it? Do you think everyone says that when they order stuff like that, you know, like a Chocolate Fondant, “ooohhh Nigel, but will it still be runny inside”? I literally don’t know anyone called Nigel – no idea why I used that name, Nige it is though.
It arrived, was puffy, wobbly, grilled cheese colour covered in a cheesy sauce – fork in hand, eyes wide open, a gentle plunge. I’m bigging this up far too much, it was ace, really soft, perfect Soufflé in texture, structure and flavour – nailed it. Nige would have pissed himself, hopefully not over the Kidneys…again, it’s a joke, they were good…jeez, chill-out.
Here’s how it continued:
Poitrine de Porc £17.95 – pork belly (slice), served in a skillet again, on mash with wilted greens AND a grilled sausage – oh, with gravy. It was good, real good. Now, I am a pork fiend, without doubt the finest beast one can eat – I myself am a little piggie, so is Nige. I think what you’re looking for when ordering any pork belly dish is something so soft you can eat it with a spoon, plenty of char colour, bit of crisp to it and the inevitable sweet salt kick – I was happy.
Magret de Canard £18.95 – you know this, Duck Breast. You’re in a similar territory to pork belly here, you want colour and crunch, but hopefully with nice pink duck breast. They did enquire as to how we wanted it cooked, but in a “are you ok with medium rare”? Of course we were. Now, this came with Gratin Dauphinoise Potato, served in it’s own little baking paper pouch. When I make them I tend to slice the potatoes rather thin and layer up. These guys did much chunkier slices, with slightly less sauce, but it was rammed, and I mean packed full of cheesy, creamy and garlicy flavour. We were slightly concerned it might be a little dry, but the flavour dealt with that – was different though, which is a good thing. The duck was great, good portion and the sauce, silky and smooth – very good.
It ended with a look at the dessert menu – with which we were too full, nearly, very nearly shared a reasonably priced Apple Tart Tatin (£5.95) – but, out of room I’m afraid.
The bill arrived, bear in mind we didn’t have much alcohol, not even a full bottle or dessert, it was a pleasant £63.15. Which for two happy people makes for a good night. Overall, I would say the pricing is on a par and reasonable, not cheap, but not overly expensive.
Who is it for? Romantic couples for sure, your folks would love it too – rowdy mates, probably not and not built for kids. The verdict, you gotta go – Petit Coco Cheltenham is top ten on TripAdvisor and rightly so.
PRICE: £ £
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