Coi

Dinner – Saturday, February 6, 2016

Coincidentally enough, our first (and only previous) meal at Coi was 3 years ago, nearly to the day. We were visitors, due to dine at Saison’s then-new SoMa digs, but some calamity befell the restaurant and we were diverted to Daniel Patterson’s kitchen. But now Patterson has stepped back, and Matthew Kirkley (late of L2O) runs the pass. This time, we came as residents and with purpose – to sample Kirkley’s debut menu. I’d heard good things about his style, although our paths had never crossed – we stopped eating at L2O after Laurent Gras departed. Here, finally, was our opportunity.

Pommes soufflees
Salt cod, bergamot, espresso

Geoduck, Manila clam, bibb lettuce, lardo, buckwheat crepe
A gorgeous course, and one of my top tastes of the night. Great textural contrast between the molluscs and lardo, each one adding a unique bite. The lettuce was just vegetal enough to balance the fat. This felt like a collaboration dish between Patterson and Kirkley – a mind meld of two styles.

Galinette, etrog, yuzu, oscetra caviar
My first experience with the citrus known as etrog – it’s apparently used in some Jewish rituals, and this specimen was grown locally by Hamada Farms. The fruit is mostly pith, and it’s delicate aroma was backed up by the more assertive yuzu to balance the caviar.

Tasmanian ocean trout
Citrus confit, chartreuse, fines herbes, potato gaufrette

A stone-cold stunner. Hardy slices of ocean trout were cured in chartreuse, and wrapped around a delicate tartare of the same. A frozen lime-chartreuse gel and a puree of fines herbes brought more acid and complexity. Brilliant.

Maine diver scallop
Radicchio, black truffle, citrus-scented seawater

Fish ribbons, lobster roe, lobster broth
A “pasta” of galinette and turbot with a springy texture any lover of Asian food is familiar with. I only wish there’d been more.

Maine lobster tail
Tortellini, tangerine, black and royal trumpets, maitake-infused sauce Maltaise

Turbot, winter vegetable scales, beurre cancalaise
A textbook preparation – I’ve rarely had turbot this good. This was a close second to the ocean trout dish – the level of acidity in the sweet butter was really perfect with the flaky fish.

Abalone, bone marrow custard, black truffles

Grapefruit, pastis, black pepper
The large sphere was a stabilized grapefruit foam wrapped around a core of grapefruit sorbet. This sat atop a pastis marshmallow, which was itself laid in a pool of grapefruit-tinged broth. I could not ask for a better palate cleanser.

Coconut custard
Green apple, ginger, spiced tuile

Almond cake, caramel, candied preserved lemon, amaretto

Coconut macaroons, beet-blood orange pate de fruits
Matcha-mango white chocolate, yuzu financiers

Let’s get it out now – not everything was perfect (in particular, a decidedly overcooked lobster tail), but they were nearly there. Coi 2.0 presents refined seafood preparations with a French influence – rather what I imagined L2O 2.0 was like. And so I wonder… surely this cannot be the restaurant’s final form? Kirkley is already known for his gift with oceanic ingredients – the move to the Bay is a chance to avail himself of the Pacific’s bounty, yes, but it should also be an opportunity to break new ground. What will Coi look like in a year?

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