When the Icoa Café and Bakery opened this week at Seven Mile Shops, it barely resembled the previous Icoa location on George Town Harbour that was known as much for its chocolates as anything else.
Now in the location where the Coffee Grinder was prior to Hurricane Ivan, Icoa has some elbow room, which has meant a whole new approach by owner Shruty Garrison.
‘We were limited in what we could do over there because of space constraints,’ she said.
With a larger area, Icoa will expand its fare past soup and sandwiches of the day and chocolates to extensive breakfast and lunch menus, plus sweet treats made for any part of the day.
And then there are the breads.
Icoa bakes European-style hand-crafted breads with crisp crusts and chewy insides. No preservatives or stabilisers are used, Mrs. Garrison said.
‘I wanted to have breads with a lot of character and texture,’ she said, adding that those kinds of bread go well with the European cheese selection Icoa sells.
Producing artisan breads is not easy, Mrs. Garrison said.
‘It takes longer, but in the end it’s more flavourful.’
There are several kinds available, including Tuscan bread, fig and walnut bread, and chocolate and cherry buns.
Of course, any café must also serve coffee and teas, and Icoa serves high-quality products of both.
Along with a selection of gourmet teas, Icoa has chosen the Illy brand of coffee, which is very popular in Italy.
Icoa’s breakfast and lunch menus will probably surprise its past customers who were used to a very limited offering when it came to food.
Chef Jurgen Wevers from the Netherlands has created a menu that includes such novel breakfast dishes items as smoked eel, Indonesian spiced corn fritters, and goat cheese and Yukon Gold potato pockets.
Even the more familiar items are given an Icoa flair, such as the egg Benedict-style with shitake mushrooms and leeks, among other ingredients.
For lunch, diners can go light with a soup of the day or one of several salads, or they can have a heartier meal such as homemade chevre and tarragon ravioli, grilled Angus strip loin steaks or braised Moroccan spiced New Zealand lamb shank.
‘We wanted to do something that is not being done,’ said Mrs. Garrison. ‘We didn’t want to just serve traditional dishes. We want people to leave here being excited about what they’ve eaten.’
Mrs. Garrison said she hopes lunch patrons can think about dinner while they are there. A variety of ready-made salads are available in small containers for take out, along with the selection of breads.
Sweets are something Icoa has always done well, but with the addition of pastry chef Eric Spreeuw, also from the Netherlands, the new café offers much more than just chocolates, including cakes, cookies, brownies, tarts and more.
Rather than cooking large cakes and serving slices, Icoa bakes single serving sized cakes.
‘(Sliced cakes) are what we’ve become used to traditionally, but they’re not what we should settle for,’ said Mrs. Garrison.
Icoa will offer a special cake of the week, Mrs. Garrison said, with popular cakes being brought back.
As of next week, Icoa will open its 40-seat dining room, to go with 20 seats outside.
‘We’re large enough now that some of our corporate clients can have breakfast meetings here,’ Mrs. Garrison said.
Icoa will also offer some socialising, with a high tea from 3pm to 6pm with an assortment of fixed-priced food platters.
Employee Ludo Delpeux said Icoa is just like cafés he has worked at in France.
‘You won’t find it anywhere else on the island at the moment,’ he said.