Its not your old Bizou. Its a very different vibe and less expensive. The décor is casual, modern and a little edgy. Its a fun place eat.
There are a few new house drinks on the menu like the Coco500 which has Thai basil, kaffir lime, vodka and fresh lime. It was tart and refreshing and very pretty with the fresh Thai basil in the drink. The presentation of many of the dishes is beautiful.
IMO, the menu is clever, appealing to many different groups. If its tacos, burgers and pizza you crave, thats on the menu. However, if your tastes run more to merguez stuffed quail or duck confit with white peaches and pistachio thats there as well.
In addition, it is very vegetarian friendly. I am not even close to being a vegetarian and I almost went totally vegetarian tonight. I think one of the strengths of Coco500 is going to be the vegetables sides which are labeled on the menu as california dirt. If you like creamed corn, you must, I mean must, get the creamed corn with marjoram and smoky paprika. It was one of the best corn dishes Ive had.
There are enough of the old dishes on the menu to satisfy long time regulars, but there are also a lot of new dishes that are more rustic and with bolder flavors.
The Acme bread is gone replaced by a shot glass filled with tiny breadsticks that look like potato sticks.
The fava and English pea ravioli with pecorino and mint was lovely. The four raviolis stuffed with chopped veggies in a mint green sauce was finished with shavings of pecorino and decorated with tiny purple flowers. Lovely to look at and lovely to eat.
A good idea that had never occurred to me was adding fresh plums to salad greens. I very much liked the salad of coastal greens, fresh plum slices, sherry and almonds. Those were great almonds, btw, much smaller that the usual almond.
Longing for one of Bizous old dishes, I ordered the local calamari with black rice and stewed garlic. I always loved the calamari. It came in the little black skillet. I loved the dish but it had some hot, involuntary tear inducing, red peppers in it. It was excellent and had a bolder flavor than past Bizou dishes.
Dessert was sour cherry fifty-fifty. It is one of Loretta Kellers original desserts that is a parfait with layers of panna cotta and fruit puree. It came with two tasty sour cherry biscotti. The dessert was light and refreshing and the biscotti were terrific.
There is a section on the dessert menu called non committed where you can get sweet bites. For one dollar you can get the biscotti by themselves.
Two things that were not totally successful were the Shasta summer porcini mushrooms with thyme and pancetta. While the generous bits of pancetta were nice, the dish didnt stand out and the portion was really small for the price.
I would say rely heavily on the serving staff until you get familiar with the menu. Some portions are larger than expected and some smaller. Price doesnt seem to correlate to portions size.
The idea is to put together you own dinner with the small places. The vegetables are separate from what might be considered the entrée. The menu descriptions dont indicate the size either. Under the title wood oven are the calamari (an appetizers), beefcheeks (entrée) and flatbread (appetizer). Even in the veggie section, ask about portion size. The mushrooms were a small single serving size while the corn was enough for two.
It wasnt that the staff wasnt helpful. I just said I would order on my own and see how full I felt after each dish. I was the one who didnt ask questions.
The tamarindo, a drink with house made aqua de tamarindo and white rum was fine, but not as good as the Coco500. There are cocktails that were not available before at Bizou like margaritas and mojitos. The next drink I must try is a calpirinha with cachaca from cane, lime and raw organic sugar. I got hooked on this South American drink when I lived in Southern California.
There are drinks that are copied from the Ritz in Paris and drinks like a buddhadrop with Buddhas hand citron, vodka, limoncello and fresh lemon.
Keeping with the lighter spirit, the menu is very e e cummings, everthing in lower case. The detailed descriptions are gone like star route lettuce and replaced by coastal greens. Even that was wordy. It is more like fish, chicken, beef. I do think though, that significant ingredients like the hot peppers in the calamari should be listed. The dish, while delicious, was very different than expected.
The new staff seems very nice.
The décor is very casual. There are linen napkins but no table cloths. The large flower displays are gone. The restaurant is split in two along the length of the restaurant. One half is the bar with a half a dozen high bar stools and tables. The other half has long benches with tables that are very close together. On the opposite site of the table are chairs There are two large communal tables up front where the old bar area was.
The link below is to the website, but it is not up yet. I like Coco500. Im happy to be able to have Loretta Kellers cooking again. It is not that I dont miss the old Bizou and staff very much. However the new restaurant seems exciting. I just wish I still lived a few blocks away so I could visit it more.
Heres today's menu. Hours are now all day from 11:30 10 pm. Dinner menu is served starting at 5 pm. I was told that the menu was more likely to change quickly with the small plate format. If a particular veggie, meat or fish becomes available it can be more easily added to the menu than with the old format that had composed plates.
* lunch and dinner
L- lunch only
D- Dinner only
* Fried green beans
* Marinated olives
* Cocomole tacos my note five small bite sized tacos
D-Brandade, fennel cracker
* Confit tuna stuffed piquillo peppers
D-Coppa, fennal salad
* Duck liver terrine, pickles, mustard
D-Oysters on ½ shell, mignonette
L-Fried calamari. remoulade
* Coastal greens, plums, sherry, almonds
* Radish and radicchio, carrot, taramosolata dressing
D-Hearts of romaine, crisp bacon, tarragon, avocado
L-escarole and frisee, pancetta, 7 minute egg
L-Seared tuna, summer beans, aioli, arugual
L-Duck confit, roasted peach, balsamic onions, chicory, basil
L-COCOburger, pickles chips (add gruyere or grilled onions add $1)
L-Panini, proscuitto, fontina, olive, sage
L-Chicken breast tartine, aioli, caramelized onion, watercress
* Fava and English pea ravioli, pecorino, mint
D-Lemon tagliatelle, bottaga di tonno
* Chickpea soup, carrots, rapinin, parmesian
L-Spaghetti, lamb ricotta meatballs, salsa rosa
D-A LA PLANCA
D-White prawns, pearl couscous, salsa verde
D-Dry aged sirloin, green peppercorn sauce
D-Chicken involtini, porcini mustard procuitto
D-Sable fish, cucumber gazpacho, sweet 100s
D-Whole fish, vegetable escabeche
D-Local calamari, black rice, stewed garlic
D-Duck confit, white peaches, pistachio
D-Merguez stuffed quail, skorthalia
D-Beefcheek, watercress, horseradish cream
* Crisp Italian flatbread, carmelized onion, thyme, marjoram
* Rocket pizza, braised peppers, ricotta salata, aruguala pesto my note .. this looked outstanding and the woman who ordered it took a bite and said mmmm
* Mushroom pizza, tomme de savioe, savory
D-Shasta summer porcini, thyme, pancetta
D-Braised rapini, bagna cauda
D-Summer beans, tarragon, shallot, grain mustard
D-German butterball potatoes, butter, dill, parsley
D-Cream corn, marjoram, smoky paprika