Well, I think peak dining season is officially over on Marco Island. The other night I was out a little after 7 p.m. and every restaurant I drove by actually had parking places in front of them. Even the popular Snook Inn, which I use as a business barometer, had a few places in the regular parking lot. When the Snook Inn slows up you can bet every one else has also.
I haven't eaten at Cocomo's Grill all season so I popped in around 7:30 p.m. There were a few people around, but not like peak season. I had my choice of seating but some friends were sitting at the cozy bar so I settled in next to them. They were enjoying some unusual appetizers and offered me a taste or two. Cocomo's has a wide variety of international, or should I say global, selections on their menu. I am not quite sure what kind of cuisine they are going for, but it definitely works for them.
My friends were enjoying some chicken lettuce wraps. These things are delicious. Thinly sliced marinated chicken sautéed with cashews, water chestnuts and onions in a peanut sauce with bean sprouts, mint and cilantro are served cold with ice berg lettuce leaves to roll them up in, kind of a like a taco. They are very refreshing and fun to eat.
They were also enjoying falafel and hummus with freshly baked Naan. Falafel is ground, flavored chick peas that are fried. In Lebanon they use fava beans for this. You can use other dried white beans such as navy or cannelloni beans, but here garbanzo beans are the most popular.
The Hummus was very good with a hint of garlic and lemon that I smeared on the hot and fresh Naan bread. Naan bread is an Indian leavened bread.
My friends were getting upset with me for eating all their stuff so I finally ordered something of my own. I chose the tuna tartar; they have it listed as sashimi tuna ($12.95). But all sashimi means is thinly sliced and is not a grade or quality of tuna.
My tuna came finely diced with soy rice wine vinaigrette, green onions, sesame chili oil and sesame seeds laced within. It was served with a seaweed salad, pickled ginger, wasabi and really good freshly fried wonton chips for dipping. I ate every bite.
John, the friendly and efficient bartender, also suggested the Vietnamese salad rolls. I would have gotten some but I just had some lettuce wraps. The salad rolls had veggies, some shrimp and thinly sliced pork and rice vermicelli wrapped in soft rice paper served cold with peanut sauce ($6.99).
Also, not to be forgotten, is Cocomo's bread. It's a loaf of sourdough brushed with oil and dusted with parmesan cheese served fresh out of the oven ($3.99).
By now I was getting full and still had to choose an entrée. Cocomo's has a large choice, such as grouper, stuffed chicken breast and Mongolian beef. The Mongolian beef sounded interesting, although I didn't get it. It's marinated thin strips of sirloin in a soy vinaigrette that is wok seared with whole dried red chilies, green onions and honey ($15.95).
They have pasta choices also and one of the unusual ones is the Vietnamese rice noodles with beef ($12.99). I cruised past the large salad selections and landed in sandwich land.
I chose a thing they call a steak break and, unless you're hungry pass it by, it's huge. It's an open-faced marinated sliced sirloin with sautéed onions, mushrooms and prosciutto topped with bleu cheese crumbles all served on grilled garlic bread ($12.99).
They also have an entire kids menu and are kid friendly. They even have a kid's game room to prove it. So the next time you want a truly global menu that is a lot different than any one else on the island try Cocomo's for a refreshing change. It's right across the street from Subway, or give them a call for some delicious alterative food at 394-3600.
• I used to make sourdough bread similar to Cocomo's and here is a tip so you can make it at home using a frozen roll or bread loaf dough.
In a bowl I make what I call a blessing out of oregano, basil, chopped garlic and olive oil. Then I combine kosher salt, poppy seeds and parmesan cheese in a bowl. Now place some of the poppy seed mixture on a cutting board and roll you're thawed out dough gently in it so the mixture is on top.
Put it on a baking sheet and take a pastry brush and brush the blessing on it generously and bake it that way. It gives it a nice crusty crunch and a great flavor. I make my own bread but I have used frozen and have had great result.