Coi (Pronounced Kwa, meaning calm, quiet, tranquil) is a Contemporary California Cuisine restaurant near the San Francisco Financial District and a couple feet from an SF Adult entertainment spot. Opened in 2006, chef Daniel Patterson uses the best ingredients they can find and transform them using modern cooking methods into innovative creations.
Coi’s cuisine reminds us of molecular gastronomy giant Fat Duck in the UK. They earned two Michelin stars for 2010, the only restaurant in San Francisco to do so. Coi has a $125 (Now $145 in 2011) 11 course prix fix menu that changes every couple days. We had previously dined in the lounge a year ago, ate a la carte, and found it nothing special, so we decided to get the full treatment this time. They removed the lounge menu in April 2011. (Add $95 for wine pairings)
Decor, Vibe – Coi SF has a calm, quiet atmosphere with earthy green toned modern clean and minimalist decor. Indirect light, lite album rock. Pine cones, shoji screen with leaves, xray pictures of fruit and vegetables decorate the wall of the fairly small dining room. Many well-dressed business people and others celebrating special occasions were dining. Most men were in suits.
Coi Menu (Click to zoom into any picture)
Ever Changing Menu
Amuse Bouche – Carmelized Pear Root Beer – Strong rooty flavor unlike a soft drink.
Frozen Mandarin Sour – satsuma ice, angostura bitters. A mandarin orange fruity ice on top of frozen meringue that tasted like air, with a couple slices of kumquat. The bitters added a salty flavor. A pre appetizer with many flavors and textures to get you prepared.
Geoduck Clam – black spanish radish, bean sprouts, yuzo, shiso. Slight fishy flavor in the geoduck but a very nice combination of soft crunchy geoduck clam and cruncy sprouts. Strong yuzu lemon flavor.
Broken Beet/Goat Cheese Tart – rye, dill. A contemporary tart interpretation. Three bit sized pieces that perfectly blend the sweet beet, crunchy rye – sugar crisp, and soft goat cheese.
Sunchoke-Buttermilk Soup, Hot/Cold – asian pear, cocoa nib, mint. Prepared table sized, the warm soup is poured over the condensed cold soup chunks. Weird combination of warm soup and cold chunks of soup, combined with chopped bits of Asian pear. Would have been better omitting the cold.
Fall, Pastoral – young carrots roasted in hay, sprouts, soyoung’s pecorino. Cooked carrots, radish sprouts, pecorino cheese sprinkles, neutral agar hay jelly cubes made for a beautiful dish and an interesting combination of textures.
Monterey Bay Abalone Grilled on the Plancha -nettle-dandelion salsa verde, spicy breadcrumbs, lemon zest. The sliced quickly grilled local abalone was excellent. Chewy, not tough, not fishy. Solid meaty quantity.
Savory Chantrelle Porridge – Pig’s Feet, Garlic Confit, Wood Sorel. Wow, this does not look like porridge. The wood sorel were citrusy sprouts on top of some mushrooms and a mushroom gelatin film. The porridge below was soft, grainy, and mushy had the pig’s feet flavor. The combination set off taste buds with different flavors and textures in the same bite. Very nice.
Chicken/Egg – slow cooked farm egg, crisp chicken skin, chard and farro. Perfectly poached egg with little bits of chicken skin. Sauce was on the salty side, otherwise this dish was excellent especially when the yolk blended in.
Alternate dish: Prather Ranch Sirloin cube with bone marrow and carrott purree, pea greens, yellow fin potatoes. Cooked rare, very juicy and tender. A bit too much salt on the sides. Excellent potatoes and purree.
Cadence (Andante Dairy) – sweet and spicy greens. 10 day aged Petaluma cows milk cheese with some creme fraiche. Soft, silky and a bit sharp.
Steamed Kabocha Squash Cake – Apple, pomegranate, vadouvan. A cake re-imagined. On the small side, with a little of everything, but a very good dessert. The vadouvan ice cream, a French Indian curry adds a sweet – savory touch to the flavors.
Carmelized White Chocolate Parfait, Semi-Frozen – huckleberries, anise. Excellent white chocolate outside, caramelized chocolate inside, and a crunchy ballotine bottom. Almost like a high end candy bar with some berries.
Petit Fours – Chocolate Soblet aka Oreo like cookie with a strong nutty flavor.
Petit Fours – Peach Sorbet freshly made with a true peach flavor.
Coi Restaurant had excellent service and pacing over the two and half hour meal. Black suited servers were around most of the time, constantly scanning the room, refilling, replacing bread (Homemade but forgettable), and all were competent and knowledgeable. Is it worth $125? Yes, a meal with this level of quality and cooking is clearly expensive. All the small portions add up to a very filling meal.
Coi SF’s culinary journey is not everyone. You need to be a foodie to appreciate the special ingredients and complexity of preparation. Coi is a lot more down to earth compared to molecular gastronomy places like Fat Duck in the UK.
They limited the number of tables on Opentable, so be sure to give Coi a call to make reservations. 18% service charge (shared by the entire staff). Saving money by eating a la carte in the Lounge is not a wise alternative, we tried that in the past. Eccletic wine list with high markup. Glasses from $9, half bottles from $28, bottles from $31, $25 corkage.