The head of our UK business strolled through the offices the other day and stopped at my desk with an excited look on his face. As part of the Euro team, I’m normally pretty much ignored by the UK people so I was surprised. “I’ve been meaning to tell you something”, he said cryptically, “There’s a fabulous new Indian restaurant in Chester that you really must try”.
I was surprised as he and I have only ever eaten Chinese together. How did he know I’d be interested in an Indian? “I know you like India so I assume you like the food” – so that’s the secret. It’s a bit like saying someone who likes Italy probably wants a tip off for a shop that sells Italian shoes. Then things became even more bizarre. The place he recommended was the same restaurant for which I had a GroupOn voucher which I’d not got round to using. After checking that John can tell the difference between good and average (he pointed me to his Tripadvisor reviews of curry houses) I rang Koconut Grove and booked a table.Firstly a word or two about the name; what’s with the K for Koconut? When did mis-spelling something in an entirely non-ironic way become the basis for style and branding? The food was going to need to be good to get me past my natural instinct to shudder at that K.
My husband picked me up from work and we drove into Chester. He doesn’t like Chester and he’s less familiar with the place than I am. He got very grumpy on the drive and realised he should have left it to me. The restaurant is on City Road in the west of the city, not far from the A51. City Road is the road at the back of the railway station which runs north-south and ends at the quirky historic roundabout which isn’t really a roundabout because it’s got houses and businesses on it (if you know Chester, you’ll know where I mean). Koconut Grove is on the southern end of City Road in a small side branch called Ethos Court, a modern development that looks a little out of place in Chester where most of the city is so old. It as a good thing that I’d checked the website to know what the place looked like as it definitely didn’t look like an Indian restaurant. The restaurant has a car park which is free in the evenings. Unfortunately I’d not learned that from the website and we didn’t realise until we’d parked a considerable distance away by the Job Centre. However, now I know it’s there, I’d be likely to take advantage of it another time.
The front of the building is all glass and steel and it looks rather more like a bathroom supplies shop than a restaurant. First impressions when we went inside were very good and very un-Indian. It’s light, bright and modern with lots of framed pictures (none of them of anything Indian) and big displays of artificial flowers and plants. The room has been broken up by the use of half-height partitions which give a sense of not just being in an enormous room full of tables. We were initially offered a table in a rather too sunny spot and asked for somewhere out of the direct glare and were moved to an alcove with just two tables.