One of the things I miss about Ottawa since I moved to Edmonton is its vibrant Lebanese culture. One of the many wonderful by-products of having a strong Lebanese community in your city is you get an assortment of amazing shwarma shops. Ottawa has no shortage of shwarma shops: with local run businesses such as Shwarma Castle, where you will get the authentic experience of a 10-minute long conversation with your Lebanese server while waiting for your humungous garlic-packed beef shwarma for a mere $7, to large chain corporations such as Shwarma Palace, where a giant shwarma platter and combo meal that will likely last you three full days comes out to only $14. I had yet to try Lebanese food in Edmonton, so when Groupon offered a deal for $70 worth of food at Co Co Di for only $30, I jumped at it.
It was quite awhile before I was able to use my Groupon. My good friend who had already used his Groupon told me specifically not to eat the beef shwarma, as the meat was dry and “the shwarma sauce tasted like chalk.” With “rave” reviews like that, my companion and I headed off to Co Co Di on a Sunday evening, with fairly curbed expectations. Co Co Di is a large, dimly lit restaurant featuring old green-vinyl tables and booths. I can’t exactly say I enjoyed the atmosphere upon walking into Co Co Di – the old vinyl tables and booths were at least 30 years out of date and the dimly lit atmosphere gave the impression of an old mob hangout, where the wrong sort of characters came regularly to make under-the-table deals.
Our Groupon included two glasses of wine, one appetizer, and two entrees. Both of us had work early the next morning and opted to switch our wine (which was restricted to cheap Chilean wine) for iced tea, which to our surprise included free re-fills throughout the night. For our meal, we decided on sautéed mussels ($12.95), Salmon Ala Grigglia ($17.95), and 10 oz Sirloin Steak ($19.95). It took almost 40 minutes for our lukewarm sautéed mussels to arrive. The mussels, sautéed with a bit of red and green peppers, tasted exactly like the mussels served at low-end buffets. The sauce was thin, watery, and tasted mostly of sea water / mussel residue. The mussels themselves tasted very much like the mussels that you can buy frozen from Superstore and were definitely not worthy of the $12.95 price tag.
|10 oz Sirloin Steak with Sauteed Mushroom, Rice,|
and Garlic Bread
Our entrees came just before we finished our mussels, which, in my opinion, was poor planning by the staff at Co Co Di. Most other restaurants would not make you wait 40 minutes for a simple appetizer then serve your entree at almost the same time as the appetizer. Now, most girls are a scared off by a rare steak; I, on the other hand, enjoy a nice amount of juice in rare steak and have occasionally ordered the blue-rare steak at some restaurants. As with any other restaurant, I specifically ordered my steak rare at Co Co Di and was utterly disappointed when my steak came out not just “well-done” but overcooked. In addition to being overdone, the cut of steak was incredibly poor, resulting in a cardboard-like taste and texture. The seasoning used was very similar to the Club House Montreal Steak Seasoning (the type you can buy at Superstore) that I used at home. The dry, cardboard texture prevented me from finishing a large section of my steak entirely. I definitely would not recommend ordering the steak at Co Co Di; with the quality of the steak at Co Co Di, you would be better satisfied with a home-cooked steak. The rice that the steak was served with had an interesting and familiar wild-rice flavour. By the third bite, I recognized the familiar flavour of the rice – it tasted distinctly like Uncle Ben’s rice! While I enjoyed the familiarity of the taste, my companion said that the wild-rice flavour (the same between both dishes) did not compliment his salmon in the least. The steak was also served with a side of mushrooms, which other restaurants typically charge extra for. However, the mushroom had none of the charred/grilled/earthy flavour that most other restaurants do so well; instead, the mushrooms tasted like they had been soaked in lemon juice and thrown haphazardly into a pan to sauté. Finally, both entrees were served with garlic bread, which I generally enjoy…at most other restaurants. At Co Co Di, the garlic bread consisted of a piece of plain white toast with garlic butter (likely also bought from Superstore) smeared all over it – probably one of the most tasteless garlic toast I have tried.
|Broiled Pacific Salmon with Sauteed Baby Mushrooms, |
Vegetables, Rice and Garlic Bread
My companion ordered the Salmon Ala Grigglia which consisted of an 8 oz piece of Pacific Salmon broiled to “perfection” topped with sautéed baby shrimp and peppers, served with rice and garlic bread. My companion said that the piece of salmon was cooked quite well and was not too dry. However, when I tasted a piece of his salmon, there was a strange, indescribable flavour that I cannot exactly describe as “good.” Either way, the salmon definitely did not taste like a fresh piece of salmon (my companion is not a particularly picky eater, so he didn’t mind the “extra” flavour). The shrimp was not overcooked, but had that same buffet-tasting quality that the mussels had.
Despite the warning about Co Co Di from our good friend and our initially low expectations, Co Co Di still managed to utterly disappoint me. The steak was inedible and rest of the dishes were buffet quality at best. The environment also had nothing to offer and actually kept me on edge for the entire night. Even with more than 50% off for a meal (the meal came to around $66 with tax), the dinner I had at Co Co Di was definitely not worth it. Next time, I will opt to save my $30 instead.
Top Pick of the Night: refillable iced tea
Rating: 1/5 Erics'