When the hostess from "quoi" called to confirm my first reservation, my immediate and echoic response was "What?". I then realized that Coi was pronounced not like the Japanese carp, but like the French interrogative pronoun (though it is actually a refrence to an archaic French word meaning tranquil). It was an indication that, despite the hype the restaurant has received, we would be experiencing it more or less as a blank slate. This was for the best, because the kind of innovative, experimental cuisine that Coi serves is better experienced than overanalyzed. Some find hydrocolloids appetizing, but most prefer not to see the stitching.
What strikes one initially is the heavily Japanese-influenced interior design (an influence also visible in some of the ingredients, like geoduck and tofu). The Zen-like, elegant dining room (the restaurant claims to have two, but one is more of a lounge) is minimalist, with many natural elements incorporated: dried fungus planters, thatch-covered walls with illuminated, recessed Japanese rock gardens, rice paper-like ceilings, which have been lowered to create a sense of intimacy. There are a series of rectangular windows that traverse from the outside of the restaurant, through the entryway, into the dining room, and into the kitchen, permitting one to gaze from the outside through several rooms into the kitchen.
The cuisine is sometimes described as "Californian-French", which we take to mean that French technique is employed and there is a heavy emphasis on fresh, seasonal, locally sourced ingredients, sometimes as molecular gastronomy. But Chef Daniel Patterson has expressed a desire to create "a cuisine without reference points." There is a liberal deployment of wild-harvested leaves, flowers, barks and roots (Patterson has been an avid forager for nearly two decades), and other seasonal local vegetables. Not every dish is a success, but the ones that are succeed brilliantly. An incredibly tender, rich and smoky aged duck cooked on the bone was perfectly paired with an aged premier cru from Mercurey. Coi serves few meat dishes, but the quality of this dish indicates that they should serve more. The "Fried Egg, Not Fried" contains a crispy shell of smoked bread crumbs (hence, appearing fried) with a rich, silken, slow-cooked yolk inside, a tour de force in textural contrast. A smoky, complex celtuce (the oldest member of the lettuce family) is served steamed in butter and water with a swirl of black sauce made from brown butter, burnt hay and Champagne vinegar. A dessert of whipped coconut with olive oil, rhubarb and blood orange sounds disgusting, and tastes sublime, every element suspended in perfect balance and perfectly paired with a German Scheurebe Beerenauslese from Darting.
Your bill will come with an 18% gratuity, an act of presumptuousness unnecessary given the quality of the service (and counterproductive: if you're going to include gratuity, many will simply decline to leave any "additional gratuity", resulting in waiters receiving less than the 20% they would have otherwise).
(415) 393-9000 Tues-Sat, 5:30pm-1pm
- San Francisco
- American (Nouveau)
- Molecular Gastronomy
- Best Decor
- Best Service
- Best Wine Lists
- Private Dining Room Private Dining Room: 5-8 seated
- Tasting Menu 11 Course Tasting Menu: $165 11 Course Tasting Menu with Wine Pairings: $270
RECOMMENDED DISHES See All
- Rice crisps with avocado & cucumber mousse
- Black olive and caraway seed bread
- Chilled English Pea Soup - buttermilk preserved lemon, nasturtium
- Sunchoke-Buttermilk Soup, Hot/Cold - Asian pear, cocoa nib, mint
- Celtuce - brown butter, burnt hay, comte, tarragon
- Monterey Bay Abalone - new onion, pea shoots
- Chicken/Egg - slow-cooked farm egg, crisp chicken skin, chard, green farro
- Fried Egg, Not Fried - brassicas, smoke, herbs
- Aged Duck Cooked on the Bone - sprouted wheatberries, radish, redwood shoots
- Whipped Coconut - olive oil, rhubarb, blood orange