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Coqueta - Chef Michael Chiarello NEW Spanish restaurant on Pier 5, SF - any reports?

Foodgal posted her review of Coqueta on Pier 5, any hounds been yet?

Items that look & sound good to me:
quail egg Diablo $2.5 ea
Pan con tomate $5
clam & mussel esabeche $8
"Tattas" bravas-like tator tots
octopus $12 grilled over wood
Pluma $38 from Iberico pigs
Paellas made on the hour
Sangria Poprocksicles $4 ea - dessert
Cocktails look good

Pier 5, SF

Foodgal's post:

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  1. Been there, but only once. Had a wide variety of items. Overall, had a very good experience and looking to go back there.

    1. Finally got to try out Coqueta. The service started out uneven, the food was average to good. The menu has enough interesting dishes and there were enough hits that I would go back but I don't think I'll bother with getting a reservation or be in a rush.

      We had an 8:45 reservation. When we got there at 8:45 we were told our table wasn't really so we could wait in the bar. No problem but then two different servers tried to give us food menus and when we said we were waiting for our reservation one of them said that we clearly had arrived too early. Then the host came out an said that our table was lingering and was there anyway we would want to eat at the bar. If I had wanted to eat at bar I wouldn't have made a reservation for a table. I didn't mind waiting but the lack of communication and snide comments weren't appreciated.

      They did comp us two non-alcoholic beverages and a couple small bites.

      What was odd was that once we were seated there were at least 4 two-top free and the chef himself was presenting dishes to some industry folks. That was the only time we saw him but it's nice to see a celeb chef in his restuarants.

      From there the service was pretty good with our main server being informative and helpful. We also had three other people bringing out our dishes and drinks.

      The dishes we had:
      Pintxos-which are tiny bar snacks that are almost always free in Spain but are $2.50
      1.Qual egg Diablo with Jamon was delicious

      2.boquerones,anchovies also tasty

      Cold tapas
      3. house-cured Chiarello Manzailla olives $3-tasty and a good portion with a nice mix

      4. Olive oil-poached Delta asparagus with idiazabal cheese and a sangria holandaisse $8
      This was good if rather odd with the sangria holandaisse and it was only four spears of asparagus

      Montaditos ie. open faced sandwiches although these were smaller than the ones common in spain and were more like canapes

      5.Smoked salmon with queso fresco with truffle honey, $8 a play on bagels and lox but the salmon was overpowered by the honey

      6.sea urchin with melted lardo with a slice of jamon iberico $14 this was an interesting combo but not exceptional

      Hot Tapas
      7. Potato Bravas $8 a dish that is literally at every place in Barcelona, the version here is nothing like what you get in Spain, instead of a creamy inside, it's shredded like a tater tot and the sauce is too sweet

      8. Grilled Razor Clams with grilled wild ramps and meyer lemon $14 one of the best dishes we had, the clams were cooked perfectly, the ramps and lemon were excellent counterpoints.

      9. wod-grilled octopus with fingerling potatoes, pimenton and olive oil $12, this dish was the most similar to it's inspiration. Perfectly cooked octopus and delicous potatoes, it was a bit heavy on the pimenton and the portion was tiny even for a tapas. In Barcelona it would have been twice the portion for a tapas.

      10. Grilled Iberico Secreto $22 probably the most disappointing dish. I found the pork overcooked but the tximi-txurri was ok and the watercress salad was dressed very well.

      11. Arroz cremosa $22 rice with scallops and english peas. This was a very satisfying dish with lots of flavour, a good portion and nicely seared scallops.

      We finished with two desserts. The dessert come in two sizes with smaller single serving treats and larger shared ones.
      We got the Sangria Poprocksicles $4, which was basically a sangria granita with poprocks through out the pop. It was very fun to eat but one note in taste not surprisely.

      The other dish was a strawberry and rhubarb nitrous frozen ice cream with a rich deep berry sauce. The server had to crack it open and it went everywhere but was a ton of fun to eat and the texture of the frozen treat with the deep flavours of the sauce made it a really interesting dessert.

      There is a wide selection of cocktails, a highlighted section of sherry cocktails as well as spanish gin based ones and there was nice selection of non-alcoholic drinks too.

      When we got there the bar area was less than half full, during dinner the chef's counter was mostly empty and there were empty table in the dining room. On open table there was almost no reservations from 6-8:30 most night which makes me think they are holding tables for walk-ins or doing some reservations by phone only.

      They also tack on 3% to your bill supposedly for Healthy SF so all the employees must have awesome health care with that much money being added to every single bill.

      4 Replies
      1. re: tjinsf

        Nice write up. I'll mention that when we were in Barcelona late last year, pintxos were definitely not free and I can't imagine them being. You're talking about the food that usually comes on bread with a skewer/toothpick in it?

        1. re: c oliver

          In Madrid & other parts of Spain that serve them, pintxos and often tapas are often free at bars, I know it's different in Barcelona with most places charging for tapas & pintxos but yes there are still places where when you drink you get pintxos for free. The last time I was in Barcelona was March.

          1. re: c oliver

            Madrid was the only place I remember where we got complimentary tapas / pintxos.

            That happened at several spots where we just stopped in for a drink and with the drinks came small plates of olives and / or bread with ham or cheese.

            1. re: drewskiSF

              Old thread, but free tapas are traditional primarily in eastern Andalucia. Common in Granada, Almeria, and Jaen. Maybe you'd find it here and there in Malaga. None in Sevilla. There are probably some places in Madrid and Barcelona that do it but I'd imagine it's not the norm.

        2. Went there a couple weeks back and enjoyed it overall. Not everything's a slam dunk, but several items were, especially the razor clams, grilled octopus and the paella.

          The paella really struck a chord for me. Perfectly cooked rice infused with the flavors of seafood (shrimp shells I suppose?) and Iberico ham. Coming from a Cantonese background, it's similar to what's done for a banquet-worthy soup, which is also prepared using seafood stock and a similar kind of dried, fancy ham.

          Portions are expectedly small, and the prices are high, but it was a great experience overall and should improve as time goes on.

          1. Bauer gives it 3.5 stars in tomorrow's Chronicle, which probably won't make it any easier to get a dinner reservation. It's already pretty darn hard to get a table unless you want to dine at 5 or 9pm.

            3 Replies
            1. re: nocharge

              How easy is it to grab a seat at the bar? Assuming there's a bar with seating and food service?

              1. re: Frosty Melon

                There is a glassed in bar area with counters and chairs. When we've gone there for a dinner reservation there were plenty of spaces there. I've been three times now and every time there was space at the chef's counter (which is different than the bar) and at the bar. I am wondering if they were holding back tables to drive up buzz or to work out kinks because it has never been full when I have been there-once on the weekend, twice during the week.

                Still not impressed with the food, what Bauer calls taking the best of Spain and California I call watered down and rather uninspired. Still it's perfectly fine for the tourist/family/business meeting, just not destination dining for me.

                1. re: tjinsf

                  I'm curious why you've been three times since you're not impressed.

                  @OP, $5 for pan con tomate is, IMO, ridiculous. It's just bread, tomato and oo. When done well, it's wonderful but $5????

            2. We went last weekend, walked in around 5:45pm and got two seats at the bar in the main room, overlooking the prep area, which was fun and allowed us a preview of all of the pintxos, the desserts, and the salads. We had

              -ensalada resorte- a cup of shredded spring veggies with a puree of peas on the bottom. Fresh, delicious, and a great start. Note that the "serrano crouton" is in fact a couple pieces of crunchy serrano. What makes this a crouton, I don't know, but it was really delicious with the salad. It was crucial to get a little bit of everything in each bite.

              -roasted octopus - smoky, tender, charry, wonderful. I did not understand the purpose of the potatoes on the plate because they detracted from the octopus flavor, but it is definitely a must-order.

              -grilled iberico secreto. Less successful. Despite being pork, it tasted like beef, which I don't care for at all. The DH liked it ok, but it was clear that the kitchen's real skill was with seafood.

              -paella. I've never been to Spain, so I don't know how this compares, but I loved this. The prawns in particular were amazing, and the rice had a deep seafood flavor. I'm not sure what the point of the random pieces of asparagus were; they didn't really seem to belong. The charry and slightly chewy chorizo was also good, and I wished that there was more crusty bits of rice on the bottom for texture. I read a review saying it came out every hour, which wasn't our experience. You just ordered it and it took about 40 minutes to come.

              -apple pie with blue cheese ice cream - DH liked this ok, I thought it was too sweet.

              We also ordered three wines, each of which was about two pours, over the course of the meal. The best was one on tap that I can't recall anymore. There were a lot of interesting options and the waitress was happy to let us try anything we were curious about.

              We could have done with one less tapa (the secreto) and skipped dessert and still had enough food, which we'll keep in mind for next time to keep the tab down. Service was friendly and pacing was comfortable. We never felt rushed or forgotten. She did offer a tray of pinxtos at one point and try to push them a little bit, but I think she was required to do so.

              The guy next to us at the bar was a solo who had the razor clams, the shrimp, and the whole crab. He said everything was great. On the other side was a couple who ordered the "tater tots" which looked ok to me, a bunch of pintxos which did not appeal to me, and the shrimp warm tapa, which looked amazing. Apparently they thought so too because they picked that plate clean.

              We plan to return soon and to focus on seafood and anything involving use of their wood fire/charryness. And after watching the man next to use so thoroughly enjoy his crab, we may have to order that too.

              1. Went last week, 5ish got a table in main dining room right away as the sunlight filtered across the space, I thought I'd landed in a Cal/Andalusian moderne fantasy. This place is RAD!!!

                We vegetarians had;
                Cheese platter ****, well executed, lovely membrillo.
                Pintxos ****
                White gazpacho!!!****Unique pairing of almond and grape.
                Salad in a cup w/ avacado crema was exemplary!!!****
                Beet salad****
                Tattas, mmmm**** exotic romesco of sorts
                Tortilla**** very light and refined, not heavy on the egg as en espana.
                Tempranillo from Castilla Leon/ my favorite region for reds!!!****
                A tequila cocktail which was divine

                This is the best most eclectic Tapas bar I've sauntered into yet. It rules the waterfront, hands down!