June 7, 2010

HLFD in SF: COI Restaurant

Creative, inventive, and decidedly Californian, COI Restaurant (pronounce "kwah") had been on my mind since researching for places to dine at in San Francisco.  I was on my own since my hubby had a business dinner to attend (at acclaimed pizzeria A16), so I decided to dine solo in the more casual lounge.

Walking from our hotel in the financial district, it was weird and surprising to find this high-end restaurant set amidst the gentlemen clubs in North Beach.  Once inside, I was welcomed into the small lounge that was decorated with furry pillows, felt coasters, and wood table-top.  Seeing the different textures, I was excited to try a few dishes.  Unlike the formal dining room where you have to order the complete 11-course tasting menu, in the lounge I could also choose from the casual lounge menu or order a la carte from the tasting menu.  I opted for a couple of dishes from the tasting menu and dessert from the lounge menu. 
I started with the Geoduck ($15) because I was curious how it would taste since I had seen it on television so many times.  This clam was not really gooey (nor ducky), but very salty.  The bits of cool cucumber, crunchy almonds, and cilantro foam helped to balance the beautiful plate. 
The Slow Cooked Farm Egg ($15) was incredibly rich and savory.  I loved the different textures with the buckwheat (which tasted like tiny little tapioca balls) and croutons.  The broth and shiitake mushrooms filled this dish with umami.
The Beef Tartare ($18) was amazing.  The meat is from Prather Ranch, which produces some of the healthiest beef in the country.  (The cows are fed an organic mix made by the ranch, raised in a closed herd, and are never fed hormones or antibiotics)  My husband would have loved this dish, given the abundance of cubed raw steak.  The tartare was prepared with douglas fir tips, the soft, sweet, aromatic ends from evergreens.  I loved the colorful presentation and especially the rustic tastes on the plate (which also included slivers of raddichio, radish, celery, and edible flowers).
For dessert, I ordered off of the lounge menu because I wanted to try the Goat's Milk Ice Cream with Tres Leches ($6), hazelnuts, and candied yuzu preserves.  The goat's milk ice cream was very mild with only a subtle hint of the grassy goat's milk taste.  With the crunchy and rich hazelnuts, sour candied yuzu (Japanese lemon), and sweet caramel tres leches cake, I loved all of the different mix of flavors in this dessert.
To end the meal, I received a complimentary Shiso sorbet.  Shiso is a Japanese herb that is a mix of basil and mint.  The sorbet was refreshing and almost tasted like pine needles (in a good way).

 Each plate was delicate and creative, so I could only imagine how beautiful the entire 11-course tasting menu ($135) would have been.  Coi is a 2 Michellin star restaurant (like Cyrus in Healdsburg) and worth a returning visit with my husband to celebrate a special occasion.

COI Restaurant is located at 373 Broadway in San Francisco, CA.

Coi on Urbanspoon


  1. Welcome back Andrea! Coi is one of my favorite places in SF for its creativity and Chef Daniel Patterson's organic, local and sustainable food philosophy. The beef tartare looks and sounds amazing, and I can definitely vouch for the quality of Prather Ranch meat.

    I hope you do return for the tasting menu, it is superb.

  2. This sounds like a terrific meal! I love the creative and elegant presentations!

  3. this is the place i wanted to go last time! but needed reservation! next time im in SF this will be a must!!!! =) looks amazing

  4. Stunning pictures Andrea! You are not making my three nights in SF restaurant choices easy you know!

  5. Thanks everyone!
    @Cindy - The lounge is walk-in only so if you can't snag a resy, walk in at 6pm when it opens on a weekday (I was the only one there until about 7pm).

  6. What an incredible review. Gorgeous pics, but really detailed expressive writing which I truly appreciate. A wonderful treat to yourself. Do you get to San Fran often?

  7. @Valerie - Surprisingly, we've been in San Fran 3 times in the past 15 months (and never before that!) We do love the food scene here(but still partial to NYC =) )

  8. I have just downloaded iStripper, and now I enjoy having the best virtual strippers on my desktop.


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