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CoCo500 report

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Yesterday I finally got to check out CoCo500 and despite varying reports I found the food to be excellent, but the service was a big drawback.

Upon arriving we were promptly seated, our waiter came to take our drink orders and we perused the menu (even though we already knew exactly what we were going to order).

to start we ordered the coco500 cocktail and another drink whos name currently escapes me but it's orgins are in brazil. Both Cocktails were quite good and I really found the Coco500 to be one of the most interesting cocktails I have had, I was expecting something like a mojito but was pleasently surprised that it tasted nothing like it. The brazilian cocktail was good too but remind me of a margherita.

We then ordered both the fried greenbeans and the CoCoMole tacos.
My dining partners were not fans of beefcheek so I negleted to tell them it was made with beef cheek and surprise surprise they loved it! The fried Green beans were perfect and has a nice crispy crust to counterpoint the sweet bean inside.. Excellent!

For a salad we all shared the rocket and mizuna salad, Wow, I loved all the diffrent flavors in everybite, The melon, rocket walnuts, blue cheese and proscutto all came together in a fabulous way.

We also had an order of the soup of the day which was a corn potato puree... good,,, but boring too.
Then we had the pea ravioli, quite good but also a little boring.

For our mains, we all shared the halibut with kumquat salsa and endive, the truffled squash blossom flatbread and the beef cheek.
Excellent all around, really interesting flavors.
The halibut was perfectly cooked and went very well with almost marmaladelike texture of the kumquat salsa.
The flatbread was to die for.. all there is to say. Order it!
And the star had to be the beefcheek, rich,tender, meaty, conforting. I loved this. the horseradish sauce was a very nice compliment to the dish but I felt like the watercress salad was too woody if you know what i mean... to many large stalks, I would have preferred the watercress to have been a bit younger or better manicured.

Dessert was a mixed bag.. we ordered the Vacherin,, AWESOME.. simple... gorgous.
we also had the peach and blackberry shortcake which was a big letdown.. the peaches were tough and the shortcake was very tough.. I expected something more pillowey than what we recieved and it was not finished by the three people we had eating.

So food gets two very enthusiastic thumbs up,
now service, completley diffrent story...

The server was very short with us, and he wasn't even very busy.
We recieved our cocktail halfway through our meal, I really wanted to enjoy my cocktail while I waited for my food. Also.. all of our food entrees and apps, salad soup, came out withing 5 minutes of each other.. Personally I like to have a certain progression to my meals and I order accordingly to suit that. I didn't appreciate bieng presented with all my food at the same time, and I certainly hope this isn't normal practice for this restaurant because that would be a shame.

Also with dessert we oordered a glass of Icewine... very good and interesting.. maybe a bit too cloying but that isn't necessarily a bad thing when your talking about a dessert wine.

Overall I would say I enjoyed the experiance at Coco500 and will go back, I just sincerely hope they work on the service.

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  1. That Brazilian drink would be a caipirinha. I don't think Coco500 does the best version of this but, like you, I LOVE that Coco500.

    If you ever want a great caipirinha, Fonda in Albany does one of the best in the Bay Area. However, get their key lime version which oddly has the taste of a classic caipirinha more than the plain version.

    Great report Johnny. Are you a new poster?

    Those beef cheeks people love or hate. I guess you are in the thumbs up group.

    The valcheron has always been consistantly great. It is sounding like they might have changed pastry chefs. I was a regular when Coco500 was Bizou. They went through a lot of pastry chefs and the desserts other than the vacheron were hit or miss. For a while the gallettes or tarts were big misses. The ice cream and granitas have usually been good.

    Coco500, unlike Bizou, is no longer one of my favorite restaurants and it has to do with service. That is the one issue that gets repeated over and over, the service.

    I hope anyone who has service problems will email the restaurant to alert them about it. I know Loretta Keller is a very caring owner about her restaurant. One of the hallmarks in the past was the way she trained servers.

    Because I was a regular at Bizou, a few times when I was early they would let me sit at the bar rather than wait outside and I'd hear the staff being briefed about the upcoming night.

    Knowing all of the staff, they were always spot-on as far as service, remembering customers tastes, knowing what the dishes tasted like and how to pair beverages with them.

    That is not the case at Coco500. It is past the point where, for me, it is a matter of missing the old staff ... and this gets consistantly reported.

    I KNOW for a fact that Loretta (and at least the old staff) do NOT read blogs or food forums like Chowhound. So they are not going to get the hint here ... and Chowhound isn't the place to effectivly do that for any restuarant.

    I still love the food at Coco500. I am so glad it re-invented itself and successfully. I would have very much missed it.

    So, I hope people who have service issues will let the restaurant know.

    http://www.coco500.com/contact.html

    From the few times I talked to Loretta in the past, and observing the old staff, I know she would like to be made aware of issues. If enough people complain it probably will be fixed.

    1. Destino on Market Street also does a mighty caipirinha.

      1. I had dinner at the 6:15pm sitting on July 4th.

        We had the Coco Taco with Beef Cheeks (thumbs up) and the roasted Marrow bone (also good)
        For main course we had the flank steak medium rare (not sure why they covered the steak with mounds of vegetable, kind of an upside down steak salad, and the snapper special (I enjoyed the flavor).

        The food is good and the service is adequate. You are right, not exactly a high touch restaurant when it comes to service, but I guess on the early seating we did ok. We looked at the dessert menu and nothing stood out so we left and went for dessert elsewhere.

        1. yes I am fairly a new poster to this board but i have been a long time reader, and thank you for your agreements with my conclusions.. i will definetly send a letter over to offer my, ehem, constructive criticism.

          1. I have been there several times recently and have had great service from each again from the two female waitresses. I think they are beginning to recognise me, I have been so often.

            I strongly recommend the house cured salmon pizza with lemon. I think it is even better than the flat bread. It rocks my pizza world. Order it whilst it is still on the menu.

            1. very funny story about coco500...

              last week we were seated over a half hour late, which i thought was fine because the maitre'd nudged me with his elbow and winked with "we'll make it up to you." (i must look like the kind of person you can do this to, because i think an old lady would have beat him over the head with her purse.) so he delivered on his promise and we got a free flatbread.

              and then it showed up on the bill.

              while i bitched about this the next morning to a friend, she screamed "OH MY GOD THE SAME EXACT THING HAPPENED TO ME TOO!"

              that aside, they also forgot one person's starter, sold out of a dish that probably would have been available if we were seated on time, then sold out of the one dessert we wanted, then wound up having one more portion.

              our tempura green beans weren't very crisp, btw. i think my expectations were unrealstic though, as i'd heard and read so much about this dish. i think i was expecting them to be filled with gold.

              now, don't get me wrong. for all of these complaints, our server was VERY kind, as much of this was out of his control. plus he sent us free ice cream because we had mentioned that it sounded tasty.

              also on the plus side, the cocktail list was the best i have encountered anywhere, including my 10+ years of borderline-alcoholic drinking sprees in manhattan.

              i was also surprised to see that my napkin was refolded after getting up to go to the restroom.

              so it was definitely a mixed bag. but it will absolutely not stop me from going back for more squid ink pasta.

              1 Reply
              1. re: gingersweetiepie

                We were there recently as well and though the waiter was sweet, the service was inconsistent. The person serving drinks wore a shirt with full bell sleeves and every time she placed a drink down, we felt like lifting her sleeves so it wouldn't get into another drink or into our food! The busboys were extremely annoying - maybe there were too many of them but they kept hovering and pouncing on near empty plates - we felt just a bit rushed by their "attentiveness" but when it came time to refill our coffee, they were no where to be found.
                Foodwise, we loved the squash blossom flatbread but found the green beans not very good at all, in fact, it tasted like it was cooked and left on the counter too long before serving. The mini tacos were good but very salty. The cured salmon pizzas were excellent.
                one person in our group is allergic to peanuts and we were somewhat taken aback to learn that the restaurant uses peanut oil in most of the fried items.
                We ordered the special fish of the day - whole halibut which was outstanding. The flank steak came out smothered by mesculin so much so we couldn't see the meat. The prawns were just okay.
                The stand out of the meal was the vacherin - I shared it with my husband and I think I ended up eating most of it!
                All in all I found Coco500 to be just so so, with so many other choices, I'm not I would go back except for maybe the appetizers and the vacherin.