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Trip Report: Cotogna, Ferry Building, Atelier Crenn, Koi Palace

What else is there to say besides SF has some amazing food and amazing produce. It's been 5 years since moving from the bay area and this weekend reminded me that I need to return more than just once a year.

Cotogna: We had originally made reservations for La Ciccia and even reserved a portion of the famed octopus stew, but multiple flight delays from the severe showers down here in LA rendered that impossible. We ended up at Cotogna with a 1030pm table and that worked out perfectly. It's nice to have such an amazing restaurant that closes late. We started with sunchoke, black trumpet mushroom soup with poached egg which was delicious. The yolk had such amazing flavor it instantly reminded me the level of ingredients available here in SF. Tagliolini pasta with dungeness crab and lemon was a light welcome back to SF. The ramps, guancale, egg pizza was very good although I probably prefer my crust a little softer and chewier these days. The absolute star of the night was the porchetta. I know the porchetta craze has been going strong in SF for at least 4-5 years now and damned if I don't know why LA hasn't caught on yet but this specimen was the epitome of porchetta. The skin was a perfect brown golden color and as crisp and delicious as any pork crackling I've had. The meat/fat napoleon right under the skin was perfection. The center white meat was pink and succulent. No less stunning was the sautéed chard that accompanied the porchetta. The chard was just redolent with chard flavor and essence. Spectacular. I wish, wish, wish I had this option in LA.

Ferry Building: Got there at noon and surprisingly the line for Blue Bottle was only 5-10min. That iced New Orleans style coffee is some good stuff, and I'm not even a coffee drinker. Soft scramble with green onions and crispy pancetta from Rose's was also delicious. Tried to get oysters at Hog Island but they sold out. The tempura asparagus at the stand next to them sold out soon after. Wandering the market I saw beautiful greens, wonderful ramps, and thick stalks of asparagus that begged to be bought and cooked. To temper my jealousy, I consoled myself with bread from Acme, cheese from Cowgirl, and porchetta head cheese and a Mess Piggy from Boccolone. We brought all this over to Wine Merchant and opened up a few bottles of Burgundy and spent the good part of the afternoon catching up with good friends.

Atelier Crenn: What an amazing restaurant. We chose the chef's tasting and had a wonderful time matching the beautiful dishes with the poem representing the menu. I enjoyed myself too much to take pictures and formal notes. The entire meal was remarkable for providing me tastes and textures never experienced before. Several dishes stood out in particular for me. The first was the perfect expression of spring. A chilled mint and pea soup with 2 tiny carrots and carrot purée. The dish was remarkable in that the pea was so sweet and so the essence of pea that it was as if I had tasted peas for the first time. The carrot was also so sweet and so the essence of carrot that it was superior to all other carrots I have ever tasted. My favorite dish of the night. The frozen shaved foie gras with mushrooms was beautiful and resembled logs with mushrooms growing on them. The palate cleanser of eucalyptus ice cream served on a twig of eucalyptus was outstanding and haunting. Dessert served on a "cold hibachi" was visually stunning, delicious, and fun to eat.

Koi Palace: We have plenty of excellent Chinese food down here in LA, some of the best around. But Koi Palace still takes the crown for high end Cantonese food in my opinion. The whole dungeness crab XLB is stellar and surprisingly hasn't increased in price in 5 years. The har gow, scallop dumplings, shui mai, shrimp dumplings topped with XO sauce are all finer than LA's best. The sheer variety also overwhelms what we have in LA.

I need to come visit more often.

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  1. Glad you had a great trip!

    1. Nice. One home-run after another.

      1 Reply
      1. re: steve h.

        It truly was. Still thinking about that porchetta.

      2. Nice. I just got back from SF last night. Agree with you on the porchetta at Cotogna. The best thing I ate all weekend.

          1. re: Porthos

            oh my that makes me want to run there for dinner! i've only been to Cotogna once, just last FRiday, for lunch, and it was wonderful. Glad you had a great trip - love love love Atelier.

            1. You hit some of my favorites, so glad to read you enjoyed. I've not been to Koi Palace--clearly a visit (soon) is in order.

              Thank you for the report!