Thursday, May 5, 2011

RR: Cosmic Coconut and Cortona Contemporary Italian

I'd like to start a new feature on my blog called "RR" - short for "restaurant review."  I know these posts won't be all that interesting to non-Memphians.  And I apologize for that.  But since Jonathan and I love to go to restaurants (even though we don't do it too often anymore), this seems like a fun thing to write about.

So - lucky for you guys, this past weekend we tried two new (to us) restaurants!

Cosmic Coconut
This just opened in the same shopping center as Muddys Bake Shop.  It's an all-vegan juice and smoothie bar.  Ever since moving to Memphis, one of the places I miss most is my beloved St. Louis Smoothie (I love you, Tropical Temptation).  So when I heard this place had opened last week, I was intrigued.

Jonathan and I decided to cruise out there Saturday after I finished my volunteer work at the Hope House.  One initial thought is that it's a liiiiiittle too far from our house, which is a good thing when it comes to Muddys (because then I can't eat there all the time), but isn't that great for a healthy smoothie place I'd like to visit a lot.  The restaurant itself was cute-ish.  They have a cosmic theme going on (obv.).  There's not a ton of seating (don't know if that will change), and there's a ton of wheatgrass growing in planters all around the place, which was fun.

My smoothie was awesome!  I got the Chocolate Covered Almond and it was so good!  It tasted like a healthy chocolate milkshake.  Jonathan got the Peachy Cling On and it was a good peach smoothie, but nothing absolutely incredible.  So our food was overall pretty good.

On the other hand, I'm seriously doubting this place is going to last.  1) It took for-ev-er!  There were 4 people in front of us and it probably took 20 minutes to get our smoothies.  2) The hours are weird - they're only open from 7-1.  3) They aren't open Sunday or Monday, which, I mean, I understand an established restaurant doing that, but not a place that just opened.  4) They don't serve any food.  Now, I've heard this might change, but honestly, if it took that long for 2 smoothies, I can only imagine how long food would take.

We'll give them the benefit of the doubt, though.  They just opened, they're still working out kinks.  So, overall verdict: I will definitely go back.

Cortona Contemporary Italian
This opened a few months ago in the can-never-keep-a-restaurant-for-long spot in Cooper Young at the corner of Cooper and Young.  (It was formerly Melange and Dish.)

First impression: the space is nice.  They've made it sort of trendy-upscale looking.  The whole bar area is very cool and welcoming, and they've added some great outdoor seating in the front.  We happened to run into some friends in the bar area while waiting for our table.  And then some more friends came in who were coming to have a drink with the friends at the bar.  We invited the latter to have dinner with us after their drink (because the other two had already eaten), and the restaurant was very accommodating of switching us from a two-top to a four.

The menu was pretty cool.  It's nice-ish Italian food, at reasonable prices.  In fact, I'm not sure anything on the menu is over $20.  While waiting for our friends, Jonathan and I split potato-encrusted mozzarella sticks (which were a nicer version of the classic) and an arugula salad (which was basic, but good).  Then for our entrees, I built my own pizza (with pesto sauce, mozzarella, goat cheese, mushrooms, sun dried tomato, and arugula) and Jonathan had linguine with red sauce and chicken.  Our friends split a pizza.  I was happy with my pizza - the toppings were good and the crust was nice (probably cooked in a wood-burning oven).  It was also enormous, so I took half home.  Jonathan liked his pasta as well.

I will definitely go back - it's nice to have a budget-friendly place that actually feels sort of upscale.  Unfortunately, as has been the case with all the previous restaurants there, it's impossible to hear in the dining room.  For whatever reason, the acoustics are awful (as they've always been).  But that's not enough to keep me away - so it will definitely be on the "go again" list.

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