Coi Opening Remarks:
-Coi was awarded 2 Michelin Stars in 2014 and 4 stars from the San Francisco Chronicle
-It’s ranked #49 on San Pellegraino’s World’s Best Restaurants List
-Chef Daniel Patterson was named the 2014 Best Chef West by the James Beard Foundation
-The name Coi (pronounced kwa) is a French word for tranquil
-Located on Broadway, the chic façade leads way to a dark magical forest inside. It actually reminded me greatly of my meal at Alinea in Chicago but a bit more “urban” and less haunted house cause the light could shine in.
-Unlike so many Michelin Star restaurants I’ve frequented, Coi’s décor is a bit more rustic (yet still refined). There are more earthy organic textures and colours, bare wood tables (which were stunning) and bits of branches and greenery peaking out from the walls and corners.
-The noise level was quite manageable and reserved. We spent most of the evening chatting with our neighbours, two dermatologists and their young 12- year old daughter who had an impressive appetite for upscale cuisine. It’s pretty much my one goal in life to ensure my kids have a good palate.
-Note to food bloggers (and all you reading this), the lighting in the room did something weird to my camera. I’m definitely no photography expert but it kept causing the photos to go completely black and I’m still unsure what the heck was happening. Adding a light to override the LEDs above did seem to help, but still, they didn’t come out perfectly.
-Service was well timed, professional and very charming. Each staff member had a purpose, whether it was to pour the wine, deliver the plates, or to refill water.
-Wine pairings always arrived before food, and each course felt perfectly timed. It wasn’t rushed, and it wasn’t painfully long. The whole meal, start to finish, took about 2 hours and 45 minutes.
-The wine list at Coi features both old and new world vintages from across the world.
-There is options for the full pairing, partial pairing, and of course, you can also order a la carte. My fiancé opted to go with the wine pairings, which we both agreed were nicely paired and selected. I knew I wouldn’t be able to make it through the flight so I ordered by the glass – starting with bubbly and then moving onto a really delicious 2013 Riesling Kabinett Schafer-Frohlich Bockenauer.
-Chef Patterson’s style is best described as modern with a focus on local seasonal ingredients. His food is not overly molecular or gimmicky, but rather, a bit more subtle in its style. He also aims to play on emotions and memories and speak to much more than just the palate.
-From an ingredient perspective, you’ll quickly notice that almost everything you receive feels light and fresh. Vegetables play a starring role while proteins are used to compliment the seasonal fare.
-The menu is an 8 course tasting menu with no option for a la carte (though dietary restrictions can be accommodated).
Served with: Gonet-Medevile, Brut Tradition Cru, Champagne, France
Puffed Brown Rice Cracker, Sprouts, Avocado
A perfect light alternative to bread and butter with the aerated nutty crunch of the cracker pairing beautifully with the luscious herbaceous avocado mousse.
Blood Orange, Pink Peppercorn, Black Lime
Wow, talk about amusing your bouche. This was a wickedly flavourful granita packed with sweet orange, spicy pepper and acidic aromatic lime. I would be a happy kid to get this at the county fair.
California Sturgeon Caviar
Egg Yolk, Crème Fraiche Chive
While you may expect the yolk to go gushing out and flooding the plate, it had been cooked to a luxurious custard-like texture which added a nice contrast to the silky crème fraiche and pop of the salty caviar.
Cucumber, Salad Burnett, Spring Flowers
Served with: 2013 Bisci, Verdicchio di Matelica, Marche, Italy
Confession time, friends- I normally dislike geoduck. There are very few foods I don’t like at all, but geoduck ranks high on that list for me. It can range somewhere between slightly crunchy (which I like) to very chewy (which I dislike) so I was a bit apprehensive as this made its way to the table. Spoiler alert- I’m so glad I dove straight in. The geoduck was chopped fairly finely which helped it rank closer towards the slightly crisp texture I prefer. This also was exaggerated by the pleasant bursts of crunchy moisture from the fresh cucumber. Yum.
Preserved Cherry Blossoms from Last Year, Wild Fennel
Served with: Komekome, Happy Bride Sake, Kamoizumi, Japan
Aromatic, sweet and sprightly, this was a flavourful bite and a fantastic pairing with the sake.
Artichoke, Stuffed and Baked
Fava Leaf, Allium, Lardo
Served with: 2012 Johan Vineyards, Grunet Veltliner, Williamette Valley, Oregon
I loved the way the lardo nearly melted on top of the artichoke like a salty fatty cellophane seal. Inside was a delicious verdant stuffing with a sweet fragrant garlic puree anchoring all the spring flavours on the plate.
Popcorn Grits with Popcorn
This was an off-menu treat that the chef let us in on, but apparently he’s famous for this dish. Honestly, I can see why. Truth be told, it was my favourite dish of the night- largely because I love grits, and also because popcorn is my go-to snack. Apparently the chef actually pops the corn before turning it into grits, giving it this unmistakable buttery toasty flavour. Heaven.
Served with: 2012 Jo Landron, Amphibolite Nature, Muscadet Serve et Maine, Loire Valley, France
Again, a beautiful example of how to let in-season produce shine. Here the oyster was tender, meaty and slightly sweet, pairing nicely with the sweet green flavours of asparagus and wheatgrass. Trust me, it’s a lot better like this than at your neighbourhood organic cold-pressed hippie juice bar.
Earth and Sea
Steamed Tofu Mousseline, Yuba, Mushroom Dashi
Served with: Movia, Pinot Grigio, Brda, Slovenia
So after the popcorn, I think this was my favourite dish. The mousseline was luscious and mild against the umami-rich dashi and more chewy yuba noodles. I’ve never thought to make yuba noodles before, but since they are gluten free and low carb, I’m definitely going to start playing at home.
Aged Duck Grilled Over Charcoal
Sprouted Wheatberries, Radish, Redwood
Served with: Maison L’Oree, Chambolle-Musigny Vielles Vignes, Burgundy, France
A gorgeous tender duck breast kissed by some smoke for a rich earthy flavour, contrasting nicely by the bright acidity of the chewy wheatberries.
Black Sesame Mochi
Strawberry, Kumquat, Shiso
Mochi fans will love this interpretation. The chewy mochi “shell” packed a slightly savoury flavour that was really pleasant against the sweet strawberries, tangy kumquat, and grassy shiso.
Dried Woodruff Ice Cream
Served with: 2013 Selbach-Oster, Bernkastler Bastrube Riesling Auslese, Mosel, Germany
I’m not sure I’ve ever had woodruff before but I’ll certainly be on the look out from now on. The sweet, herbal, grassy flavour of the rich ice cream counterbalanced the tart astringency of the seasonal rhubarb. I would love to see this combination turned into a cocktail at some point.
Dark Chocolate, Pandan
Served with: Chateau Pierre-Bise, Les Rouannieres, Coteaux du Layon, Loire Valley, France
Oh man, yes. This was absolute heaven.
First was a chewy hello dolly-like coconut cookie base, topped with an angelic coconut cake, a citrus scented pandan curd, a chocolate mousse and a hard dark chocolate shell. What a perfect treat.
Hand-Pulled Yuzu and Vanilla Taffies
A nice final bite- I loved the contrast of the sweet vanilla with the bright aromatic yuzu.
Coi Closing Remarks:
-For two tasting menus, one wine pairing and a glass of wine, the bill came to $740 including tax and an included 18% gratuity charge. For a two Michelin Star restaurant, you could certainly pay a lot more. My take was that the meal featured some stellar dishes from start to end, with very little that I could even think to critique. The service was top notch, the ambiance was comfortable, and the wine pairings were expertly chosen. I also liked the focus on seasonal vegetables as the stars of the plate, and appreciated Chef Patterson’s lighter culinary style and his use of some more unusual herbs and produce.
-In conclusion, I would definitely recommend Coi to visitors and locals in the San Francisco area, as I think it was good value for the meal and experience.
Abbey Sharp is a Registered Dietitian, an avid food writer and blogger, a cookbook author and the founder of Abbey’s Kitchen Inc.