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Coquilles St. Jacques in San Francisco Area??

I've been trying to find an SF Bay Area restaurant, East Bay ideally, that serves the traditional French scallop dish, Coquilles St. Jacques. It's my husband's favorite dish of all time and his birthday approaches! Thanks.

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  1. It's not exactly eastbay, but my response to pretty much every request for "traditional" dishes (sole meuniere, steak diane, veal oscar, etc) is the Iron Gate in Belmont. Dinner Menu:


    7 Replies
    1. re: doc

      What a wonderful retro menu!

      1. re: Sharuf

        "Retro" was the word I was looking for ... Thanks. Iron Gate is kind of the burbs version of the old "Jack's". Love it.

        1. re: Sharuf

          Tell me about it! It flashes me back to 1961, when I worked for a "haute" rooftop restaurant in Manhattan (the last food service job I ever had) and tended to the flaming dessert wagon.

          1. re: Gary Soup

            Well ... maybe this will bring back some old memories ....


            1. re: doc

              That was about the size of it. We had Peaches Flambe, not Strawberry.

              For the old-timers, the resto was Stouffer's Top of the Sixes, on the top floor of 666 Fifth Avenue

        2. re: doc

          Is Iron Gate any good? We haven't tried it, but we like traditional French food. (Or, at least, we used to -- maybe it would be too heavy now?)

          1. re: Kim Cooper

            I always enjoy going there. I don't think it would make many foodie's top 10 lists, but it is consistently good and provides a unique dining experience for the area. Maybe for me it's just a refreshing change from all the Alice Waters wannabes, fusion restaurants, and casual/amateurish service in the area. Some dishes, e.g. the Calamari Steak Dore and the Abalone (prepared similarly when available) are very, very good. The lamb dishes are also pretty reliable. Saucing in general is not overly heavy, but they do tend to overdress the salads. They also do a very nice Grand Marnier souffle.

        3. "Coquilles St. Jacques" isn't a dish, it's the French name for scallops.

          What preparation are you looking for?

          4 Replies
          1. re: Robert Lauriston

            It may very well be the french name for scallops, but it is also a dish. I have a culinary degree and it is one of the classic preparations of scallops.

            Technically, it just means scallops served in the shell, however, in the industry it is widely accepted that coquilles st. jacques are scallops served in the shell with some sort of mushroom cream sauce. Since there are many different interpretations of this dish, this is a very 'loose' definition.

            1. re: chemchef

              there is a restaurant called Rue St Jacques maybe they now something about it ?

              just my $0.02

              1. re: chemchef

                Must be an American thing, probably out of the old "continental" hotel school.

                In France or on a menu written by a French chef, Coquille St. Jacques means scallops, recipes are always "____ de CSJ," "Coquille St. Jacques a la ____," or "CSJ au ____." Though in SF these days that would seem a bit old-fashioned, mostly they just say "scallops."

                So to find this particular dish in SF, a description is essential.

                1. re: Robert Lauriston

                  Ah yes...but when I order Coqilles St. Jacques what do I get? Technically, a plate of scallops. If I ordered a la Parisienne or Provencal, I would probably get that strange look....What?? If anyone really cares, consult LaRusse Gastronomique or Lescoffiere Gastronomique Oh hell, I'll have the shrimp.

            2. Robert, This is one of those old school restaurant dish interpretations. It was based on scallops in a flavored cream sauce but often was commonly interpreted (in the late 60s & early 70s when I ate it) to include a mix of shellfish in a cream sauce with wine flavoring or accents along with the possible addition of mushrooms and cheese. You can see recipes for the dish by googling coquille St. Jacques recipes. An example can be seen at http://www.cooks.com/rec/view/0,1826,.... This is another case like hummus (which just means garbanzo beans in arabic) where the name of the main ingredient stands for the common recipe using this ingredient.

              3 Replies
              1. re: minkus

                Julia, in her Mastering...has a couple of recipes. The ala Parisienne version is the more common coquilles st jacques dish. Rich and delicious.

                1. re: minkus

                  The request was for "traditional French" so I thought maybe it was for a dish the husband had in France.

                  Among SF French restaurants:

                  - Cafe Mozart has "Coquilles St. Jacques En Brochettes Ragout De Lentilles"
                  - Jeanne d'Arc has "Crevettes Et Coquilles St. Jacques De Compostelle"
                  - Les Joulins Jazz Bistro has "Coquilles St. Jacques Au Pernod"

                  There are lots of retro American cookbooks with recipes named "Coquilles St. Jacques," but every chef / writer has a different definition. On that Iron Gate menu linked above, it's two different dishes depending on whether you order an appetizer (basic white wine) or an entree (with mushrooms)!

                  1. re: minkus

                    Yes, seems parallel... our use of hummus is a shortening of the full name of the preparation, hummus b'tahini == "chickpeas with sesame paste".

                    Similarly if CSJ refers to some "classic American" preparation I wonder if it's a shortening of a specifc French dish, called CSJ de.... something

                    Even if so, CSJ alone is not very useful today to find what the OP wants as most menus I've seen in the US (and presumably all of them in France!) use it simply to mean "scallops", with additional details on the preparation. So we need to hear back from the OP on specifically what's being sought.

                  2. Yeah -- take ME back, too. I cooked a *lot* of this stuff in the late '70s, at least 10 orders a night, every night. Classic Bay Area CSJ the way I learned it was done with the smallest (admittedly frozen) scallops available in bulk, drowned in an herb/cream/white wine sauce that had been heavily thickened, and then baked in a small casserole. We plated it with the little casserole right on the dinner plate.

                    Today, I think most people in these parts would feel that was a downright barbaric waste of seafood. But it's unfair to apply contemporary standards retroactively. For one thing, the public's standards for fresh fish were not even in the same ZIP code as they are right now.

                    Sushi Monster

                    1. Chez Simone on Piedmont in Oakland. I had that dish a few years ago over there.

                      1. Being French and having spent much of my life in France, I can assure you that Coquille St. Jacques is simply scallops. There is no traditional preparation. It has all to do with description attached to it. Sorry for the culinary training. They misinformed you.

                        1. You know, until I read this thread, coquilles St. Jacques only meant one thing to me. I believe in the English-speaking world, if you ask for this dish, while there are slight different touches ... it basically means scallops, mushrooms, cheese, cream, wine ... moved this up to the general board

                          1. Yes, of course! I'm sure that many of the so-called traditional dishes that we know in the U.S. have much different meanings in other countries.

                            To Pammel, I, obviously, was not misinformed considering the significant number of restaurants across the U.S. that serve this dish in some rendition or another. I'm sorry that they do not serve it in France, as its quite delicious.

                            1 Reply
                            1. re: chemchef

                              Well, not to keep this stuff going in this link, but I can't figure out how to move a response the general link ...

                              The French do seem serve the dish simply known as coquilles St. Jacques in the US. They just add a qualifier because as the link to the General Board says, they have a variety of scallop by that name.

                              Since in the US, we don't have that particular variety ...

                              My guess is that when that particular preparation was first made in the US, the qualifer was there and eventually got dropped.

                              Prior to the 80's the French restaurant was serving heavy cream sauced dishes with lots of butter in this country. I could see why that preparation was selected and people mentally dropping the qualifier. Your high school French will only take you so far and if that was the same prep in every French and Continental restaurant ... voila ... coquilles St. Jacques.

                            2. Conclusions:
                              - Coquille Saint-Jacques means scallop in French.
                              - In French American restaurants it usually refers to a particular preparation with mushroom, wine, cream and cheese
                              - You can attach a description if you serve it as different preparation

                              Being French and growing up in France I must admit that when my mother said she had prepared coquilles Saint-Jacques for lunch we would expect it to be "gratinee" in the shell with some sort of creamy sauce. I started having other forms of coquilles Saint-Jacques when going to fancy restaurants.

                              Also did you know that the French like to eat the orange coral part attached to the muscle. In the US they always get rid of it. Too bad, it is quite tasty.

                              Also French students like to use the shells as ashtrays. They have the right shape, are free and can be stacked up conveniently to save space in their microscopic Parisian studio ;-)

                              5 Replies
                              1. re: ngardet

                                I was reading in this whole thing that some varieties in the US don't have the orange coral part (roe?) but even if they have it it gets tossed ... there's a new restaurant fad for you in the US ... the utter sophistication of knowing enough to eat the orange part.

                                1. re: rworange

                                  Yes but coquilles Saint-Jacques always have the coral bit.
                                  The plot thickens...

                                  1. re: ngardet

                                    Wouldn't it be only the females with the coral? Or is it something other than roe?

                                  2. re: rworange

                                    One of the problems is that most scallops in the US are sold frozen. The coral needs to be pristinely fresh to be worth eating.

                                    1. re: rworange

                                      These people sell live in-shell scallops, and say that about half have roe: