May 14, 2007 - Restaurant Review - Joanne

Exterior of Coi - San Francisco


San Francisco
Visited: February 10, 2007 - Dinner

I had read about Daniel Patterson's use of Yuba (in the New York Times Magazine) and was eager to go to his new restaurant to experience it. Overall we liked Coi (pronouced kwah). With good wine and great company, dinner was course after course of interesting jewels.

The decor at Coi is by Interior Designer Scott Kester and has a distinctively Asian-modern flair, with lots of subtle texture. This sets a nice tone for the food which is likewise presented with great attention to detail. The dishes themselves are lovely and often chosen for the course to grace it further.

The restaurant is very small with only 30 seats. The ceiling is lowered and there is a sense of intimacy invoked by the size of the room and the small number of diners. Fish and seafood are the strengths at Coi and the highlights of our dinner were the Sea Bream Sashimi and the Hokkaido Scallop.

We like that Patterson chooses local, organically grown and sustainably raised ingredients whenever possible.

The weakest points of the dinner were the "meat" courses; in our case the guinea hen and squab. Dessert was less exciting than we had hoped for. Tasting menu courses are resplete with foams and unusual flavors - but do they work? Most of the time yes, but the subtley is often too subtle.

Service overall was very smooth and attentive. Twice we asked for adjustments to the menu and they were immediately accepted without hesistation. Jack was not fond of the dessert and it was immediately whisked away and a cheese plate replaced it.

Coi is not an inexpensive dining experience. Is it worth the price? Maybe, especially if the exquisite detail is what you are searching for. We liked the ambiance at Coi and would return, but at the same time don't feel a need to rush back. This is not a restaurant for hearty eaters but we came away satisfied. For a lighter (fewer courses) meal you can also eat in the tiny lounge where there is a smaller menu available.

Amuse - Watermelon Radish Gelee
Amuse: Watermelon Radish Gelee
A nice umame start to the dinner. It did not leave an lasting impression but made for a clean start. The orange strip on top was slightly chewy - sweet potato?

Pink grapefruit at Coi
Pink Grapefruit, ginger, tarragon, black pepper
A lovely foam of pink grapefruit atop a few slices. The tarragon was very prominent in the perfume drop which was served on the underplate. We were informed the perfume could be applied to the skin or enjoyed with the dish. Light and pleasant. A nice start.

DeSietra Caviar, sautéed bone marrow, beet gelée
DeSietra Caviar, sautéed bone marrow, beet gelée
One bite but we wanted more. The marrow was divine. I looked up the Caviar – it’s from Germany and comes from the Ascipenser baerii sturgeon which are farmed a closed-water recirculatory facility. It's similar in taste to Sevruga.

Sea Bream Sashimi
Sea Bream Sashimi white soy, yuzu, chives
The best course hands down. Really really good and fresh.

Soft Cooked Egg Yolk in the shell
Soft Cooked Egg Yolk spicy onion relish, bacon, parmesan foam
A take on the L’Arpege egg, this variation reminded me of Carbonara and was really interesting – the bacon and the parmesan really worked.

Turnip & Apple Soup
Turnip-Apple Soup black tea, shiso
I liked this velvety smooth puree. The black tea gelée was not an integrated element. Jack was less excited about the soup.

Yuba Parpadelle
Yuba 'Papardelle' coconut milk, curry spices
What I had come for and it did not disappoint – a wonderful presentation for Yuba (which is soy skin). I couldn’t quite imagine that yuba was papardelle, but almost. Yuba is silkier and finer and tastes more like soy. The sauce was really, really good with just a hint of curry.

Hokkaido Scallop wrapped in its mousseline
butter poached oyster, peppercress sauce

Jack loved the scallop. I liked the oyster and wished there was two. The scallop was wrapped in a thin packet of mousseline. The peppercress was a foam and did not integrate rather making a nod.

Roasted Squab with hibiscus and vanilla
Foie Gras Poached Squab endive, hibiscus, vanilla
This disappointed me – too salty and the hibiscus/endive was a strange marriage. The foie gras and vanilla, too, were not there for us. The squab had a crispy skin and was otherwise lovely (except for the heavy hand at the salt bowl).

Guinea Hen Breast lined with Crepinette, farro, escarole, smoked paprika, rosemary
Guinea Hen Breast lined with Crepinette, farro, escarole, smoked paprika, rosemary
Good not great. All the ingredients seemed sound but failed to excite as a dish. I actually traded this to Jack (who had special ordered it) as he liked the Squab better.

Interior at Coi

Moncenisio Panna Cotta black pepper gastrique, toasted walnuts
Moncenisio Panna Cotta black pepper gastrique, toasted walnuts
Wow. This a great way to serve this cheese. It has a marine like flavor which as a custard makes it creamy and mild. Really great with the walnuts and hint of black pepper.

Blood Orange Soda
Blood Orange Soda
A strange palate cleanser and we really didn’t think it worked as such, but it was fun to drink.

Medjool Date Baba vietnamese coffee ice cream, pickled kumquats
Medjool Date Baba Vietnamese coffee ice cream, pickled kumquats
Very heavy. I wanted to like this dish but it didn’t quite do it for me. Heavy and a bit too sweet for my taste. Jack opted for a cheese plate instead.

Warm Malted Milk and a Peanut Butter Cookie
Warm Malted Milk and a Peanut Butter Cookie
Barley Malt and warm milk laced with condensed milk make a perfect marriage with peanut butter cookies. I’ve since recreated this moment of pure pleasure. Caveat: if you don’t like malt or peanut butter it’s not going to work for you.

Menu at Coi

Tasting Menu at Coi

Antipodes Water served at Coi
The House sparkling water is Antipodes from New Zealand, in glass bottles. A very minerally water which goes well with the food.

Wine: We brought 2002 Marcassin Three Sisters Vineyard Sonoma Coast Chardonnay and 1993 William Selyem Rochioli Vineyard Russian River Valley Pinot Noir. We ordered a bottle of 2004 Bodegas Naia Naiades Rueda from the menu. Sadly, the Marcassin's oak was so dominating that it didn't pair well with anything. The William Selyem showed very well. The Naiades was a very nice Spanish white wine - one we would happily drink again.

2002 Marcassin Three Sisters
2004 Naides
1993 Williams Selyem Rochioli Vineyard

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