In sharp contrast to "We LOVED Coi!"...
We were NOT impressed with Coi. I had wanted to visit this restaurant for some time, and I had hoped that this restaurant would offer an exciting and fresh approach to food not often available in the Bay Area. I must admit, with some sadness, that it fell quite flat.
Our reservation for four was on Friday, May 25, 2007, at 8:45PM. Due to some residual Critical Mass mayhem we called and alerted the restaurant that we would be a little bit late (thankfully we were able to avert most of the mess at the last minute!). A star goes to the hostess for being quite polite each time I interacted with her.
The space is every bit as claustrophobic as people have reported in the past. The windowless dining room is washed in neutrals, and is rather brightly illuminated. My dining companions, including my boyfriend, felt as though it was too bright: I noted that, while yes, it was bright, the room would have felt like a cave otherwise. Point duly noted. We also took note that this small dining room never filled – there were a number of unused tables during our stint.
The service started out fairly friendly and professional; however, as the evening went on (we arrived at 9, and left the restaurant at 11:30), the service became increasingly curt and sloppy. This was clearly a case of staff wanting to go home. If a restaurant insists on offering late seatings, diners cannot be made to feel as though they’re an inconvenience and that they’re “keeping” the staff from going home. We weren’t even offered coffee or any type of after-dinner drink (though two people then asked for coffee, which was brought out begrudgingly).
As for the food, I had:
PINK GRAPEFRUIT ginger, tarragon, black pepper
SCALLOP AND CALIFORNIA OSETRA CAVIAR 'RAVIOLO'
sea urchin, chive
ZUCKERMAN'S ASPARAGUS meyer lemon sabayon,
mcevoy olive oil
CARAMELIZED ENDIVE TART herbs, black olive vinaigrette
WARM MARIN SUN FARMS PIG'S HEAD breadcrumbs,
young cabbage, radish
YUBA 'PAPARDELLE' baby fava beans and leaves, harissa
TRUFFLED RICOTTA PUDDING english peas, spring onions
MARIN SUN FARMS RIBEYE yuzu kosho, fresh cippollini onion confit, sage
AGED GUFFANTI PECORINO LUCANO pink pearl apple, rooibos
The desserts were not as represented by an earlier online menu. We received a molten chocolate cake with ice cream, and then a dulce de leche milkshake shot and sugar cookie.
This is where I will be most harsh. Given that Daniel Patterson went on a bit of a tirade claiming that SF chefs (and, frankly, US chefs in general) were not offering exciting menus, I was expecting him to wow us with new techniques and flavors. If using foams (and in SEVERE excess) and cooking one item sous-vide is revolutionary, I apparently set my expectations too high.
I frankly only enjoyed ONE savory dish – the ribeye. While it was in no way inventive, the flavors at least worked and it was well prepared. I noted that often the individual components of dishes were either good on their own and just didn’t mesh well when combined with others, or – more often – lacked much flavor at all and were more decoration than substance. Tisk!
The pink grapefruit dish frankly bordered on vile – the foam was so incredibly laced with essence that it covered any trace of grapefruit flavor. The essential oil I was supposed to rub on my wrists prior to tasting had evaporated almost completely before being brought to the table. Trendy, but no substance. For what it’s worth, there’s no way I could have continued to “smell” the oil while consuming my course; that is, unless I held one wrist in front of my nose while I ate using the other hand.
I was frankly offended by the asparagus dish. ONE stalk of asparagus?! This dish wasn’t even remotely exciting – and, thank you, Daniel… but I can steam asparagus at home. The yuba ‘papardelle’ was incredibly bland. Mind you, this COULD have been an exciting dish if it was executed well. *sigh*
I will give credit to the pastry chef. While the desserts weren’t necessarily exciting, they DID taste good. Given the disappointing savory courses, dessert was practically revered.
We brought a bottle of Peter Michael Chardonnay with us, and ordered an August West Pinot from the rather pricey wine list. Corkage was waived because of the purchase.
The total for four was approaching $800. We did not leave anything in addition to the included 18% gratuity. I usually feel that this mandatory gratuity concept has the potential to negatively impact what servers can make – I’ve noted on many occasions that, even with excellent service, some people don’t feel the need to leave anything extra. In Coi’s case, the servers lucked out.
Maybe there’s a reason Daniel Patterson has had so little luck maintaining restaurants in SF. *scoff* I, for one, will not be going back to Coi.
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