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Masa, Coi, or Michael Mina

wendy Nov 13, 2008 09:04 PM

My husband and I want to go out to a nice dinner for the first time (in 2 years) without kids. We haven't been to either Masa, Coi, or MM. Which one is better for something that's memorable, enjoyable, and relaxing. Food (taste/creativity), service, atmosphere are all important to us. Which one has a more selections for reasonably priced wines?

Valet Parking or easy parking is a must.


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  1. Pei RE: wendy Nov 15, 2008 06:58 AM

    I'm sorry you haven't gotten more replies. I haven't eaten at any of the restaurants, but I have had desserts and drinks at the bar inside the restaurant at Michael Mina. While what I ate was delicious, I really disliked the space. It was large and cavernous, quite noisy, and the entire time I was eating I couldn't shake the fact that I was in a hotel lobby and people around me were paying over $100 for their meals. It just wasn't right. I wouldn't suggest it as a relaxing or romantic atmosphere. And the wines, while out of this world, are not priced for the faint of heart.

    Coi seems to get positive comments from peple who like very innovative cuisine bordering on molecular gastronomy, but complaints about tiny portions. Masa's is an older stand by, but I haven't heard anything particularly good or bad lately.

    1 Reply
    1. re: Pei
      PYTHONCHARLY RE: Pei Sep 27, 2009 04:56 AM

      My wife and I both agreed that Michale Mina's was horrible,
      the space, the noise, the food , the service, and particularly
      the price.

      Stay Away.

    2. susancinsf RE: wendy Nov 15, 2008 07:57 AM

      I absolutely *hated* the dining room atmosphere at Coi, which I thought was claustrophobic and ugly in the extreme, and I am not prone to claustrophobia. (I actually ate in the bar and only went into the dining room to check it out, but it didn't take long to make that negative impression. No windows, low ceiling, very closed in feeling.) The bar area was pleasant but perhaps not what you are looking for, and honestly, the food wasn't amazing, service was very inconsistent. BTW, I didn't think portions were that tiny, per Pei's comments below; but I did expect the food to be very innovative and didn't think it really was so, at least not in terms of taste...perhaps somewhere other than in SF....(we tasted most of the menu). I am in no hurry to return. There was no valet when we were there, but street parking was easy, though I think I might have just gotten lucky.

      Haven't eaten at either Michael Mina or Masa. Have peeked into MM (it is very open to the hotel lobby so it is easy to go check out) and agree about the atmosphere there.

      373 Broadway, San Francisco, CA 94133

      1 Reply
      1. re: susancinsf
        Xiao Yang RE: susancinsf Nov 16, 2008 08:26 AM

        Decades ago, my friend Judy opened a bar called The Paradise Cafe in the space that is now Coi. She grabbed the space because she thought it, like the name she chose, perfectly projected the banality she was looking for in for a post-Beat North Beach dive bar, and it worked. But for Judy's restlessness it might still be The Paradise Cafe. You can imagine how bemused I was when I dicovered that the space, without any evident major structural transformation now hosts the über-trendy (and probably very expensive) Coi.

        Hey, do they serve Rainier Ale in a bottle there?

      2. j
        Jeff RE: wendy Nov 15, 2008 11:36 AM

        FWIW, here's a review of Masa's that I did some time back. It was definitely memorable, enjoyable and relaxing. I'm not sure why, but I think the restaurant is unfairly overlooked.


        1. Paul H RE: wendy Nov 15, 2008 01:42 PM

          There has been a lot of commentary here on Coi and Michael Mina. Masa's not so much. Use these place-links to look for recent threads with opinions galore...

          373 Broadway, San Francisco, CA 94133

          Michael Mina Restaurant
          252 California St, San Francisco, CA

          Masa's Restaurant
          648 Bush Street, San Francisco, CA 94108

          1. wolfe RE: wendy Nov 15, 2008 04:48 PM

            Somewhat more recent review.

            1. rworange RE: wendy Nov 15, 2008 06:03 PM

              There are so many reasons not to go to Micahel Mina, though it probably has the easiest parking. I went about a year after it opened. At that point Mina was still in the kitchen. Whether he is these days or not, couldn't say. But I will say that since that time there are maybe 20 or more MM restaurants across the country all with the same menu for the most part. We are talking high-class Denny's. Also, as noted, the room isn't relaxing or particularily attractive. It is a place that is fine for busniness dinners, but at this point, I don't think I'd select it for that either. I did like the food. The service was ok, but they focus more on celebrity or large groups.

              According to opentable, both COI and Masa's have valet parking.

              Haven't been to either COI or Masa's but as mentioned you might check the linked reports on the place records.

              You don't say when you will be going out, but I'm keeping my eye on Masa's and hoping they do their 12 days of Christmas menu again. I learned about it too late last year.

              What about The Dining Room at the Ritz? It seems to have it all ... supurb service, great atmosphere, good food, relaxing, creativity, valet parking ... and a twofer ... Masa's old chef, Ron Siegel.

              3 Replies
              1. re: rworange
                susancinsf RE: rworange Nov 15, 2008 06:26 PM

                The Dining Room came to mind for me also when I read what OP is looking for...

                1. re: susancinsf
                  Pei RE: susancinsf Nov 15, 2008 09:43 PM

                  I too would opt for TDR, unless they've been. Though that review Jeff posted has me lusting after a meal at Masa's.

                2. re: rworange
                  wendy RE: rworange Nov 16, 2008 12:58 PM

                  I love The Dining Room and if it wasn't for that I have been there already and is looking for something on par (or better), I'd go there again.

                  We're going right after Thanksgivings.

                3. w
                  whiner RE: wendy Nov 16, 2008 07:26 AM

                  Ok. I haven't been to Coi, but... this is one of those, EVERYONE I know who has been has raved, and MM is underwhelming, and Masa's is... standard. Go to Coi. Go to Coi. The somellier is apparently an awesome guy, too.

                  1. Carrie 218 RE: wendy Nov 16, 2008 11:22 AM

                    Funny how most of the replies here are, "I haven't been to XXX, BUT..."

                    Well, I've been to all three and I would definitely put Coi on the top of the list and MM way on the bottom (it is so far off any of my acceptable eateries in this city). Masa's is just middle of the road but Coi is truly special.

                    2 Replies
                    1. re: Carrie 218
                      Jeff RE: Carrie 218 Nov 16, 2008 12:27 PM

                      I'd rather a poster say "I haven't been but . . . " than simply ranting about the place without disclosing that she or he hasn't been there. At least then you know how much credence to give to the opinion.

                      Having been to all three, why do you rank them as you do?

                      1. re: Jeff
                        Carrie 218 RE: Jeff Nov 16, 2008 03:01 PM

                        Here is my Mina report (less than stellar): http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/482729

                        I'm afraid I can't find my Coi or Masa reports. Coi charmed and enticed. Masa, while good, was simply not memorable. I recall eating there about the time I ate at Range, Perbacco, One Market, XYZ, and Rubicon and they all seem to blur together in mediocrity (which for me is acceptable, but not memorable).

                    2. Windy RE: wendy Nov 16, 2008 05:17 PM

                      Is none of the above an option?

                      I've been to the first two and have no interest in MM because I've only found one or two people who recommended it. Not rushing to return to either.

                      Based on your criteria, how about Zinnia or La Folie, both places where the service and atmosphere match the quality and execution of the food?

                      2 Replies
                      1. re: Windy
                        wendy RE: Windy Nov 16, 2008 08:46 PM

                        Not quite sure what you mean by "is none of the above an option?"
                        Didn't think about Zinnia as it is so new. Have been to La Folie but don't like it as much as I like TDR.

                        1. re: Windy
                          Ruth Lafler RE: Windy Nov 17, 2008 08:53 AM

                          Zinnia I think is a bit less formal than what she's looking for. That said, I thought is was the kind of place a young couple would really enjoy. It's sexy, not in any kind of overt way, but just in the way that it seems to actually care whether your total experience is pleasurable. It also feels grown-up, but not old or stuffy.

                        2. Senor Popusa RE: wendy Nov 17, 2008 12:30 PM

                          I have been to Coi and MM but not Masa. Unlike some here I am a big fan of MM. I am not crazy about the dark cavern like room at Coi. Everyone gets the same menu at Coi and the wine pairings are quite expensive. At MM, the list is more extensive and while it has many quite expensive $$$ wines on it, I found the sommelier worked with me to find interesting and delicious wines that were more in my price range.

                          The MM room is also attractive. Although it is adjacent to the lobby, it is an exaggeration to say that it is right in the lobby - its not like people with their luggage are walking thru the restaurant. The room is quite elegant and the tables are much more widely spaced than at Coi. The menu has many options, whether you choose the prix fixe or the tasting menu. I just felt so well taken care of on my multiple visits to MM. The food was delicious too. I love the foie and kobe beef shabu shabu.

                          The menu at Coi is much more veg & fish heavy, while the MM menu has more meats & poultry options in addition to the veggies, if that affects your choice. I just prefer the overall flexibility of the menu at MM.

                          MM has valet parking (as does Coi).

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