The restaurant J. Coco has now been in business for many months and should be well settled into whatever groove it wants to occupy. Our most recent visit (the third, spread over about 5 months) was late February and I have to say, the last. We really want to like the place: it is in an old building which used to house a neighborhood market and so has local appeal. It is nice on the eyes, smallish in size, comfortable. But it over reaches. The bar is hip on the new kind of drinks, bartenders who create new drinks by simply switching out old tried and true 'reagents'. I know there is a market for this but a good business should also realize that not all the market is into this sort of 'mixology'. The reason good cocktails have survived so long (since the days of bad Prohibition booze and onward) is that they are good, period. A gimlet is a gimlet, an old fashioned an old fashioned. To have to explain to the wait person how you want a cocktail made and then to be told that some things are no longer used, is tiring. Especially when this is a top drawer bar, or wants to be. Go to a first class bar or restaurant in Chicago or San Francisco, say, and you hear none of that. And the food, well, the food is the reason one goes out to eat, right? The restaurant tries hard and does well but not well enough. Most recently, we began with the scallops which came nicely browned, done well. And in the past, their starters have been indeed a point or two on average higher than the mains. It feels as if this part of the menu has the attention of someone sharp in the kitchen. Then, one of us had the pappardele bolognese: the 'tell' was 'cream sauce' in the description and we should have clarified with the waiter before ordering. So, technically, our bad. The meal was, in effect, broad noodles in a loose tomato cream soup. Not the chunky Bolognese one generally awaits. Yes, Bolognese, like nearly anything, has a lot of variations, but I would venture to say tomato cream soup is not one of them. Not being a chef but having been on the planet for many years now and having had a lot of nice meals, I thought, well heck, maybe this is a new iteration to me but common to others. So, I googled pics of Bolognese sauce and checked a couple cooking sites. Nope, this is most surely a new one and not representative. The cedar planked salmon arrived off the plank, the piece was about the size of a short fat deck of cards, and almost overdone. It tasted allright but was not redolent of the cedar which, when used properly, extends a taste and aroma to the fish which reminds one of our Northwest coastal forests and waters and the fresh fish found there. The meals come in large dishes shaped much like a sombrero for someone with a teeny head: inverted, the ceramic sombrero's white rim focuses one's attention on the 'bowl' in the middle wherein one's meal resides. Both Bolognese, noodles, and salmon are straightforward to cook, perfect restaurant meals...in fine restaurants. But I think J. Coco's fails to keep its eye on the ball, so to speak. One can do these things so easily and well at home: one would think a trained chef's version would be spectacular. Not so, more is the pity. The size of the meals are appropriate for an excellent restaurant where taste reigns over all. They have that part right but getting the taste to reign, will require a minor revolution. The wine list is decent, with numerous wines by the glass though the pours are somewhat scant. Service remains up and down: it has been careful before, the other night was rather like what one might receive at a sports bar. For $40 for the mains, not to mention an appetizer, cocktails and wine, and desert if one chose, this can easily run over $100 in the blink of an eye. It may surprise people from out of town that Omaha no longer is a hick town and that indeed, it has some nice restaurants. J. Coco is certainly one of these...a nice restaurant. It is simply not what it could be, and is not (yet?) what it aspires to be. I cannot see visiting again but do wish the place well as it has (unrealized as yet) potential to do interesting things.
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.