Mocoto in Knightsbridge, 'London's first authentic Brazilian restaurant', has closed it's doors almost six months to the day after opening. Its last service was last Wednesday night (August 1) and its website has been taken down already. Sadly the restaurant and bar that occupied the split level site - previously Oliver Peyton's similarly ill-fated Italian Isola - will probably be best remembered for being possibly the most delayed London opening ever.
While the late opening of new restaurants is a common occurrence, Mocoto managed to raise the bar to a new level by opening well over a year later than scheduled and at least a £1 million over what was budget said have been a £5 million budget. Such was the tardiness of the Brazilian's opening, so to speak, that 'doing a Mocoto' is now parlance amongst certain industry watchers for any late launching restaurant.
Then when it finally opened at the tail-end of this January it was (despite the many, many months of hype involving being told that architects, building materials, chefs, produce, wine… everything bar ice for the caipirinhas was in fact being air-freighted in from Brazil) well, it was rather disappointingly beige and not the epitome of cutting edge South American design that had been promised. This against the background of Fleet Street's finest starting to run regular features on carbon footprints.
Add to that the fact that early doors much of the pre-publicity had focussed on the kitchen being headed up by well regarded São Paulo chef Bel Coelho who, being young, female and easy on the eye was featured in profiles for glossy men's mags with long lead times before it emerged that she'd lost patience with the delays and was no longer involved.
The brainchild of onetime partner in Momo, David Ponte, who in recent months cut his losses and largely sold out to his partners in the business, the late Mocoto was sadly an ill conceived disaster from start to finish. It had been hoped that corporate events would save the space but now, with two costly high profile failures in a row on the Knightsbridge site, it seems unlikely that it will ever be relaunched as another restaurant. But then again London seems to be awash with foreign investors all too ready to piss money away on supposedly doomed sites, so who knows…