The greatest chefs and restaurants, I believe, are adept at taking advantage of the seasons, discovering and using ingredients that are at its peak, and able to express his or her vision through their sheer cooking wizardry. Daniel Patterson at Coi fits that bill, and then some. Coi was high on my list especially after his videos on Youtube (Watch Here), and seeing his vision and passion in using amazing produce, and imbuing the dishes with vibrancy and energy that reflects the pinnacle of its flavour potential.
We started off with a puffed brown rice cracker, sprouts and avocado. The crackers were thin and crispy, with the green sprouts giving a herbaceous mix to the dish, and the lovely avocado cream that comes with it.
First starter to set the tone was a Niabell grape ice with wild bay salt. The flavours of the Niabell grape definitely shone through, redolent of the intensity of Concord grapes, whilst the wild bay salt gave a nice twist to it.
Next, we had an egg yolk poached in smoked oil, egg white sauce, herbs and flowers. The flavour of the yolk was off the charts! Almost decadently rich, permeated with the smoked oil, which added depth to it. The herbs and flowers topped it off to give a flowery, green finish to the dish to contrast against the intensity of the yolk. An utterly amazing dish, and definitely one for the books.
After the rather entrancing egg yolk dish, we moved on to the Californian Sturgeon caviar, crushed tofu and oyster. The flavours were so subtle, and well balanced with the richness from the caviar playing off against the delicate tofu and the oysters hidden beneath. Every single component could be tasted, and felt like none were superfluous.
Now, progressing on to the main courses. We started off with a seared spot prawn, new onions and sorrel. The prawn was cooked perfectly, with the onions well caramelized and beautifully sweet, and finished off with the green sorrel sauce. Another beautiful dish.
Next, was an inverted beet and goat cheese tart with rye and dill. I must admit I’m not a fan of dill, but this dish had the right amount of it, contrasting against the richness of the goat cheese and the sweet beets. The rye crisp on top was also rather magical, and melded well with the other components.
We moved on to the rather delicate, chilled Early girl tomato-pepper soup, with pole and shelling beans, flowering cilantro. A lovely gazpacho of sorts, brimming with tomato flavour. This was paired with a Flemish red ale, which is the Duchess de Bourgogne from Belgium. The sourness from the beer paired amazingly well from the dish, and seemingly transforming the dish and increasing the intensity of the tomato flavour from the soup! Unassuming, but brilliant dish that was made even better by its beverage pairing.
The subsequent dish was a beautiful Wild king salmon wrapped in Yuba, served with charred cabbage and dried scallop-ginger sauce. A rather ordinary looking dish, but the salmon was cooked perfectly and luscious, enveloped by a delicious Yuba or tofu skin. It is a rarity for me to enjoy cabbage, but what a cabbage! It was sweet and had a smooth texture, paired with a rather flavourful sauce.
We then moved on to a dish with celtuce, just-dug potatoes, comte, burnt hay and tarragon. I enjoyed the textures in this dish, especially the texture and flavour of the potatoes. A successful offering by the chef.
For the meat course, we had a poached and grilled lamb, chard leaves and stems, garum and rosemary. The lamb was cooked to a perfect medium rare, which is quite hard to achieve for most restaurants, with the fat properly rendered. Overall, pretty good flavours but the cooking of the lamb was most impressive.
As an intermezzo, we were served a coconut mochi bun with kiwi and shiso. The texture of the bun was definitely redolent of mochi, which was nicely balanced with the brightness from the kiwi and shiso leaf.
The first dessert was a frozen whipped strawberry with sesame, sorghum and anise herbs. The strawberries were delicious, and it was a pretty good dessert dish.
The finale was a vanilla poached pear with black pepper, pistachio, raspberry-red wine sauce. I particularly enjoyed the pistachio tuile on top, but the sauce as a standalone was almost cough syrup-like. That said, if the components were combined together then the flavours were rather decent. Though not the most successful of tonight’s dishes.
I would say this meal was approaching perfection. Service was warm and welcoming. And I’ve never been to a restaurant where the vegetables tasted so vibrant! It makes me believe that most places I’ve been to have no idea how to cook them properly. And it’s not often that each course seems to get better, and blowing my expectations out of the water. The only exception were the desserts, although decent but were not quite in the same level as the savoury courses.
Overall, this was my favourite meal during my entire trip. I would happily return to this restaurant once again to witness the chef’s brilliance, and to simply have a great meal.
Location: 373 Broadway, San Francisco, CA 94133, USA. +1-415-393-9000. Website