My dream, if I have one, is to own my own restaurant. Not because it’ll make money (it won’t), not because I have a novel idea for one (I don’t), and not because I want to hang around with celebrity chefs, newspaper food critics, Instagram stars that overuse the word *that*, or Greg Wallace (who does?). I want to own my own restaurant - an Italian restaurant, incidentally - just so I can become that stereotypical old b*stard, who shuffles in every day, sits in the corner, grunts at the staff, and continues to pickle himself in red wine.
I don’t know why. We all have to have dreams, I guess; and, I suppose, if I can afford to do that with my life, I must have done something right.
Sitting there, pondering this dream, as I stared out of the window at Coco Di Mama, on Margaret Street, I suddenly realised I was pretty much there. I don’t own Coco Di Mama, I’m not *that* old, and they don’t serve wine; but, I have become someone who shuffles into the same place every days, sits in the corner, and grunts at the staff. It’s become such a consistent haunt, that the staff not only recognise me, they know my order before I say it and, once, they even asked me for thoughts on their pricing strategy. One day, I’ll walk in to find someone sat in my seat and, no doubt, they’ll kick him out of the chair on my behalf.
All-in-all, being well-known in a place it’s probably less risk than owning it, to both my bank balance and my waistline. But, why do I keep coming back here? Is it the stella food (it is good)? Is it the consistent experience (it is consistent)? Is it the proximity to the office (it is close)? Maybe it’s a yes to all of those; however, I think the real answer lies in the guarantee of escape.
Lunch is that time when, for just a single hour, you can shut your brain off, sit down, send some texts, read a book, and browse the internet. Sure, you might do all these things at work too; but, this is a legitimate time to unwind, when the boss isn’t going to roast you over a fire when you’re found idle.
To properly relax at lunch, escape is key - both mentally and physically. Pret can be too busy, Itsu too confusing, and in Wasabi they make you stand (what is that all about?). In Coco Di Mama, I can sit, quietly, away from people and noise - it’s just safer this way. Plus, they have a bar to rest your feet on under the stools, which means you can take the weight off (now I’m sounding old) and not have to swing your legs like some bubblegum-blowing ten year old.
The fact that the place is empty could be a worry for them. I doubt it. They seem to have a constant flow and, sometimes, a long queue of suited customers, who’ll immediately return to their desk, hunch over their screen, and spray partially chewed food across their keyboard as they laugh as ‘fat woman falls down hole’ on YouTube for the 78th time. Or whatever. Basically, I don’t understand why people eat at their desks. It’s disgusting, uncomfortable, and you don’t get paid for doing it.
So, where are we going with this laughable ‘review’? Oh yeah, the food. Coco Di Mama sell salads, sandwiches, and some other things that sit in the fridge. I’m sure they’ll all lovely; but, they're a totally needless distraction from the delicious, steaming hot pasta, that costs less than £6, and is served in less than 6 seconds, sat steaming away behind the counter. You’re an idiot if you order anything else. I’m sorry to say it, you just are.
The pasta comes with different toppings, which makes it sound like an ice cream, but I’m not quite sure what the correct word is. I always go off menu (I’m just *that* annoying). Half pomodoro, half bolognese. Sometimes, I mix it up with a half of sausage and sage or chicken and chorizo, instead of the bolognese - what can I say? I’m an unpredictable maverick. Always ask for olive oil and always ask for cheese. They come as standard, so why not? Take a seat and, if you’re a loyal customer like me, they even bring it to the table and don’t expect a tip. Boom.
Coco Di Mama have branches across London (mainly in the City).
Postscript: I just remembered that Mark came here and ate a sandwich. He’s not an idiot, so I blame myself for not writing this review sooner or advising him to choose pasta. Sorry Mark.