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Daniel Patterson Announces Plans to Step Down as Executive Chef of Coi

Daniel Patterson Announces Plans to Step Down as Executive Chef of Coi



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The chef has appointed two Michelin-starred Matthew Kirkley to take his place.

Daniel Patterson, the acclaimed San Francisco chef whose latest project is LocoL — the innovative, sustainably sourced fast food venture created with Los Angeles chef Roy Choi — has announced plans to step back from his executive chef position at Coi, his fine-dining restaurant of nearly a decade.

“I have cherished every moment in the kitchen over the last nine and a half years,” Patterson wrote in a statement on Coi’s website. “I am deeply appreciative of our incredible staff, whose hard work and dedication helped make the restaurant what it is today. I am equally grateful for our customers, who put their faith in a new restaurant next to a strip club, in a part of town more commonly associated with drunken bar fights than with good food.

“However, I have concluded that the role of executive chef is simply too much to manage with two small children, and a wife who has watched me work 90-hour weeks year after year and would like to have me around a little more. Further, I have become increasingly invested in my work on LocoL, my joint venture with the talented and wonderful Roy Choi.”

In his place, Patterson has appointed Matthew Kirkley, who will take on the role beginning in January 2016. Kirkley was previously the chef at L20, where he earned two Michelin stars. “Judging from the food he cooked for me recently, it is likely that he will achieve a third,” Patterson wrote.


Why the restaurant Coi won't be on this year's Top 100 Restaurants list

The Michelin Guide inspectors are faced with a dilemma this year when they issue the new star ratings. In October they elevated Coi to three stars under chef Matthew Kirkley, but by the time of the announcement, Kirkley had already made the decision to quit so he could work on Bocuse d&rsquoOr, the culinary competition that the Americans won for the first time last year.

Owner Daniel Patterson, who like Kirkley received a four-star Chronicle rating for the food (inconsistent service kept the restaurant from obtaining an overall rating of four stars), had to find a new chef to carry on the legacy. That turned out to be Erik Anderson, whose resume includes a stint as an opening chef at the lauded Catbird Seat in Nashville. Most recently he was in Minneapolis revamping the Grand Cafe.

Anderson arrived in November and worked with Patterson for six weeks to learn Patterson&rsquos vision of California cuisine before taking over the menu in January. Patterson had earned accolades for his unique cooking style. He used seaweeds and foraged products in many dishes, cooked carrots in hay and employed other modern techniques to add rustic notes to his refined compositions.

When Patterson decided he wanted to spend more time on his other projects, he brought in Kirkley from Chicago, and Kirkley remained in the Coi kitchen for two years. While the serene Japanese-inspired interior remained virtually unchanged, Kirkley made the multicourse dinners distinctive by offering a seafood menu that bore little resemblance to the previous offerings.

With Anderson there&rsquos yet another style in play. After two recent visits at Coi under Anderson &mdash one in early March and the other earlier this month &mdash I feel that Anderson is still working to define and refine his own vision.

1 of 4 Goeduck with caramelized duck cream, clam jelly and green onion Michael Bauer / The Chronicle Show More Show Less

2 of 4 Erik Anderson (front) will take over as the new executive chef of Coi. The restaurant recently earned its third Michelin star which came under Matthew Kirkley (back). Anjali Pinto Show More Show Less

3 of 4 The interior of Coi in San Francisco, Calif., is seen on May 13th, 2016. John Storey / Special to The Chronicle 2016 Show More Show Less

4 of 4 People have dinner at Coi in San Francisco, Calif., on May 13th, 2016. John Storey / Special to The Chronicle 2016 Show More Show Less

I&rsquom hoping that in time his ideas will gel. But for now there seems to be uncertainty in how to meld his style with Patterson&rsquos and incorporate the lighter nuances of California. In fewer than 10 days, when the annual Top 100 Restaurants are announced, Coi will not be on the list.

Anderson is technically gifted, and there are lots of complex techniques and pretty food on display, but presentation often supersedes the actual taste. The menu feels discombobulated without the distinct personality that distinguishes a four-star restaurant.

The menu has strong classic French elements, but the multicourse menu ($250 for 11 courses on one visit and 10 on another) was a season behind.

In addition to the complete menu flip, there have been significant front-of-the-house changes since Kirkley left, including a new general manager, Michael Judge, who has worked at many top spots in the Bay Area, and returning sommelier Thomas Smith. This transition has helped to boost the service that was lacking in my visits under Kirkley. In fact, the main holdover is pastry chef Riley Redfern, and her desserts were the highlight of both dinners.

The first course, presented on a round pottery disk, was a Lilliputian rectangle of marshmallow capped with lemon gelee a dime-size sunchoke tartlet and a ham and cheese gougere. These built anticipation for the next course, where Anderson layered shaved geoduck marinated in seaweed and shallots with caramelized duck cream, translucent clam jelly, olive oil and a cap of mustard and radish flowers. The spring-like impression left by the flowers belied what turned out to be a heavy grease-like coating in the mouth that nullified the contribution of the other ingredients.

The Dungeness crab that was made into a terrine with a texture of Spam on one visit was thankfully replaced on the most recent visit by a half-dollar round of kohlrabi. The brown-butter roasted root vegetable was coated in almond dust and cut in two before being plated with three balls of lemongrass panna cotta that had the texture of marshmallow. Unfortunately, I couldn&rsquot find much synergy among the elements.

Blood orange souffles with creme fraiche and wafers of lemon and hibiscus Michael Bauer / The Chronicle

What came out next was a surprise that stood out like a flash of light in a dark room: a single thick slice of country bread that the waiter said was from a local bakery.

This seems like a strange place to skimp, especially when it comes like a separate course and grabs the spotlight at other four-star places. At Quince, for example, the waiter delivers a two-tiered wooden box that he separates on the table to display three kinds of unusual house-baked bread.

I also thought of my recent visit to Quince when I saw Anderson&rsquos presentation of two white asparagus spears flanking a dollop of caviar on a pink grapefruit emulsion and dots of fennel jam. The vegetable wasn&rsquot quite done and was too crunchy, a contrast to the dish at Quince where the asparagus was presented in a clear glass bucket filled with an herb-infused poaching broth. The spears were fished out and plated table side. They had absorbed the fragrant liquid and had just a bit of resistance that quickly gave way to the custardy interior.

I was enticed by the look of Anderson&rsquos sturgeon. He placed the fish on a roasted chicken sauce next to a quenelle of pureed savoy cabbage and tarragon, and a chicken heart thickly dusted with California laurel leaf powder and speared with a bay tree twig. However, the green laurel leaf powder coating the heart was bitter, the same issue I had with a later course of pigeon. Each plate was set with a slice of the breast next to a forcemeat lollipop, and a section of mandarin and dime-size pommes souffles thickly coated with ramp powder that quickly overshadowed the mandarin sauce and threw the dish out of balance.


Why the restaurant Coi won't be on this year's Top 100 Restaurants list

The Michelin Guide inspectors are faced with a dilemma this year when they issue the new star ratings. In October they elevated Coi to three stars under chef Matthew Kirkley, but by the time of the announcement, Kirkley had already made the decision to quit so he could work on Bocuse d&rsquoOr, the culinary competition that the Americans won for the first time last year.

Owner Daniel Patterson, who like Kirkley received a four-star Chronicle rating for the food (inconsistent service kept the restaurant from obtaining an overall rating of four stars), had to find a new chef to carry on the legacy. That turned out to be Erik Anderson, whose resume includes a stint as an opening chef at the lauded Catbird Seat in Nashville. Most recently he was in Minneapolis revamping the Grand Cafe.

Anderson arrived in November and worked with Patterson for six weeks to learn Patterson&rsquos vision of California cuisine before taking over the menu in January. Patterson had earned accolades for his unique cooking style. He used seaweeds and foraged products in many dishes, cooked carrots in hay and employed other modern techniques to add rustic notes to his refined compositions.

When Patterson decided he wanted to spend more time on his other projects, he brought in Kirkley from Chicago, and Kirkley remained in the Coi kitchen for two years. While the serene Japanese-inspired interior remained virtually unchanged, Kirkley made the multicourse dinners distinctive by offering a seafood menu that bore little resemblance to the previous offerings.

With Anderson there&rsquos yet another style in play. After two recent visits at Coi under Anderson &mdash one in early March and the other earlier this month &mdash I feel that Anderson is still working to define and refine his own vision.

1 of 4 Goeduck with caramelized duck cream, clam jelly and green onion Michael Bauer / The Chronicle Show More Show Less

2 of 4 Erik Anderson (front) will take over as the new executive chef of Coi. The restaurant recently earned its third Michelin star which came under Matthew Kirkley (back). Anjali Pinto Show More Show Less

3 of 4 The interior of Coi in San Francisco, Calif., is seen on May 13th, 2016. John Storey / Special to The Chronicle 2016 Show More Show Less

4 of 4 People have dinner at Coi in San Francisco, Calif., on May 13th, 2016. John Storey / Special to The Chronicle 2016 Show More Show Less

I&rsquom hoping that in time his ideas will gel. But for now there seems to be uncertainty in how to meld his style with Patterson&rsquos and incorporate the lighter nuances of California. In fewer than 10 days, when the annual Top 100 Restaurants are announced, Coi will not be on the list.

Anderson is technically gifted, and there are lots of complex techniques and pretty food on display, but presentation often supersedes the actual taste. The menu feels discombobulated without the distinct personality that distinguishes a four-star restaurant.

The menu has strong classic French elements, but the multicourse menu ($250 for 11 courses on one visit and 10 on another) was a season behind.

In addition to the complete menu flip, there have been significant front-of-the-house changes since Kirkley left, including a new general manager, Michael Judge, who has worked at many top spots in the Bay Area, and returning sommelier Thomas Smith. This transition has helped to boost the service that was lacking in my visits under Kirkley. In fact, the main holdover is pastry chef Riley Redfern, and her desserts were the highlight of both dinners.

The first course, presented on a round pottery disk, was a Lilliputian rectangle of marshmallow capped with lemon gelee a dime-size sunchoke tartlet and a ham and cheese gougere. These built anticipation for the next course, where Anderson layered shaved geoduck marinated in seaweed and shallots with caramelized duck cream, translucent clam jelly, olive oil and a cap of mustard and radish flowers. The spring-like impression left by the flowers belied what turned out to be a heavy grease-like coating in the mouth that nullified the contribution of the other ingredients.

The Dungeness crab that was made into a terrine with a texture of Spam on one visit was thankfully replaced on the most recent visit by a half-dollar round of kohlrabi. The brown-butter roasted root vegetable was coated in almond dust and cut in two before being plated with three balls of lemongrass panna cotta that had the texture of marshmallow. Unfortunately, I couldn&rsquot find much synergy among the elements.

Blood orange souffles with creme fraiche and wafers of lemon and hibiscus Michael Bauer / The Chronicle

What came out next was a surprise that stood out like a flash of light in a dark room: a single thick slice of country bread that the waiter said was from a local bakery.

This seems like a strange place to skimp, especially when it comes like a separate course and grabs the spotlight at other four-star places. At Quince, for example, the waiter delivers a two-tiered wooden box that he separates on the table to display three kinds of unusual house-baked bread.

I also thought of my recent visit to Quince when I saw Anderson&rsquos presentation of two white asparagus spears flanking a dollop of caviar on a pink grapefruit emulsion and dots of fennel jam. The vegetable wasn&rsquot quite done and was too crunchy, a contrast to the dish at Quince where the asparagus was presented in a clear glass bucket filled with an herb-infused poaching broth. The spears were fished out and plated table side. They had absorbed the fragrant liquid and had just a bit of resistance that quickly gave way to the custardy interior.

I was enticed by the look of Anderson&rsquos sturgeon. He placed the fish on a roasted chicken sauce next to a quenelle of pureed savoy cabbage and tarragon, and a chicken heart thickly dusted with California laurel leaf powder and speared with a bay tree twig. However, the green laurel leaf powder coating the heart was bitter, the same issue I had with a later course of pigeon. Each plate was set with a slice of the breast next to a forcemeat lollipop, and a section of mandarin and dime-size pommes souffles thickly coated with ramp powder that quickly overshadowed the mandarin sauce and threw the dish out of balance.


Why the restaurant Coi won't be on this year's Top 100 Restaurants list

The Michelin Guide inspectors are faced with a dilemma this year when they issue the new star ratings. In October they elevated Coi to three stars under chef Matthew Kirkley, but by the time of the announcement, Kirkley had already made the decision to quit so he could work on Bocuse d&rsquoOr, the culinary competition that the Americans won for the first time last year.

Owner Daniel Patterson, who like Kirkley received a four-star Chronicle rating for the food (inconsistent service kept the restaurant from obtaining an overall rating of four stars), had to find a new chef to carry on the legacy. That turned out to be Erik Anderson, whose resume includes a stint as an opening chef at the lauded Catbird Seat in Nashville. Most recently he was in Minneapolis revamping the Grand Cafe.

Anderson arrived in November and worked with Patterson for six weeks to learn Patterson&rsquos vision of California cuisine before taking over the menu in January. Patterson had earned accolades for his unique cooking style. He used seaweeds and foraged products in many dishes, cooked carrots in hay and employed other modern techniques to add rustic notes to his refined compositions.

When Patterson decided he wanted to spend more time on his other projects, he brought in Kirkley from Chicago, and Kirkley remained in the Coi kitchen for two years. While the serene Japanese-inspired interior remained virtually unchanged, Kirkley made the multicourse dinners distinctive by offering a seafood menu that bore little resemblance to the previous offerings.

With Anderson there&rsquos yet another style in play. After two recent visits at Coi under Anderson &mdash one in early March and the other earlier this month &mdash I feel that Anderson is still working to define and refine his own vision.

1 of 4 Goeduck with caramelized duck cream, clam jelly and green onion Michael Bauer / The Chronicle Show More Show Less

2 of 4 Erik Anderson (front) will take over as the new executive chef of Coi. The restaurant recently earned its third Michelin star which came under Matthew Kirkley (back). Anjali Pinto Show More Show Less

3 of 4 The interior of Coi in San Francisco, Calif., is seen on May 13th, 2016. John Storey / Special to The Chronicle 2016 Show More Show Less

4 of 4 People have dinner at Coi in San Francisco, Calif., on May 13th, 2016. John Storey / Special to The Chronicle 2016 Show More Show Less

I&rsquom hoping that in time his ideas will gel. But for now there seems to be uncertainty in how to meld his style with Patterson&rsquos and incorporate the lighter nuances of California. In fewer than 10 days, when the annual Top 100 Restaurants are announced, Coi will not be on the list.

Anderson is technically gifted, and there are lots of complex techniques and pretty food on display, but presentation often supersedes the actual taste. The menu feels discombobulated without the distinct personality that distinguishes a four-star restaurant.

The menu has strong classic French elements, but the multicourse menu ($250 for 11 courses on one visit and 10 on another) was a season behind.

In addition to the complete menu flip, there have been significant front-of-the-house changes since Kirkley left, including a new general manager, Michael Judge, who has worked at many top spots in the Bay Area, and returning sommelier Thomas Smith. This transition has helped to boost the service that was lacking in my visits under Kirkley. In fact, the main holdover is pastry chef Riley Redfern, and her desserts were the highlight of both dinners.

The first course, presented on a round pottery disk, was a Lilliputian rectangle of marshmallow capped with lemon gelee a dime-size sunchoke tartlet and a ham and cheese gougere. These built anticipation for the next course, where Anderson layered shaved geoduck marinated in seaweed and shallots with caramelized duck cream, translucent clam jelly, olive oil and a cap of mustard and radish flowers. The spring-like impression left by the flowers belied what turned out to be a heavy grease-like coating in the mouth that nullified the contribution of the other ingredients.

The Dungeness crab that was made into a terrine with a texture of Spam on one visit was thankfully replaced on the most recent visit by a half-dollar round of kohlrabi. The brown-butter roasted root vegetable was coated in almond dust and cut in two before being plated with three balls of lemongrass panna cotta that had the texture of marshmallow. Unfortunately, I couldn&rsquot find much synergy among the elements.

Blood orange souffles with creme fraiche and wafers of lemon and hibiscus Michael Bauer / The Chronicle

What came out next was a surprise that stood out like a flash of light in a dark room: a single thick slice of country bread that the waiter said was from a local bakery.

This seems like a strange place to skimp, especially when it comes like a separate course and grabs the spotlight at other four-star places. At Quince, for example, the waiter delivers a two-tiered wooden box that he separates on the table to display three kinds of unusual house-baked bread.

I also thought of my recent visit to Quince when I saw Anderson&rsquos presentation of two white asparagus spears flanking a dollop of caviar on a pink grapefruit emulsion and dots of fennel jam. The vegetable wasn&rsquot quite done and was too crunchy, a contrast to the dish at Quince where the asparagus was presented in a clear glass bucket filled with an herb-infused poaching broth. The spears were fished out and plated table side. They had absorbed the fragrant liquid and had just a bit of resistance that quickly gave way to the custardy interior.

I was enticed by the look of Anderson&rsquos sturgeon. He placed the fish on a roasted chicken sauce next to a quenelle of pureed savoy cabbage and tarragon, and a chicken heart thickly dusted with California laurel leaf powder and speared with a bay tree twig. However, the green laurel leaf powder coating the heart was bitter, the same issue I had with a later course of pigeon. Each plate was set with a slice of the breast next to a forcemeat lollipop, and a section of mandarin and dime-size pommes souffles thickly coated with ramp powder that quickly overshadowed the mandarin sauce and threw the dish out of balance.


Why the restaurant Coi won't be on this year's Top 100 Restaurants list

The Michelin Guide inspectors are faced with a dilemma this year when they issue the new star ratings. In October they elevated Coi to three stars under chef Matthew Kirkley, but by the time of the announcement, Kirkley had already made the decision to quit so he could work on Bocuse d&rsquoOr, the culinary competition that the Americans won for the first time last year.

Owner Daniel Patterson, who like Kirkley received a four-star Chronicle rating for the food (inconsistent service kept the restaurant from obtaining an overall rating of four stars), had to find a new chef to carry on the legacy. That turned out to be Erik Anderson, whose resume includes a stint as an opening chef at the lauded Catbird Seat in Nashville. Most recently he was in Minneapolis revamping the Grand Cafe.

Anderson arrived in November and worked with Patterson for six weeks to learn Patterson&rsquos vision of California cuisine before taking over the menu in January. Patterson had earned accolades for his unique cooking style. He used seaweeds and foraged products in many dishes, cooked carrots in hay and employed other modern techniques to add rustic notes to his refined compositions.

When Patterson decided he wanted to spend more time on his other projects, he brought in Kirkley from Chicago, and Kirkley remained in the Coi kitchen for two years. While the serene Japanese-inspired interior remained virtually unchanged, Kirkley made the multicourse dinners distinctive by offering a seafood menu that bore little resemblance to the previous offerings.

With Anderson there&rsquos yet another style in play. After two recent visits at Coi under Anderson &mdash one in early March and the other earlier this month &mdash I feel that Anderson is still working to define and refine his own vision.

1 of 4 Goeduck with caramelized duck cream, clam jelly and green onion Michael Bauer / The Chronicle Show More Show Less

2 of 4 Erik Anderson (front) will take over as the new executive chef of Coi. The restaurant recently earned its third Michelin star which came under Matthew Kirkley (back). Anjali Pinto Show More Show Less

3 of 4 The interior of Coi in San Francisco, Calif., is seen on May 13th, 2016. John Storey / Special to The Chronicle 2016 Show More Show Less

4 of 4 People have dinner at Coi in San Francisco, Calif., on May 13th, 2016. John Storey / Special to The Chronicle 2016 Show More Show Less

I&rsquom hoping that in time his ideas will gel. But for now there seems to be uncertainty in how to meld his style with Patterson&rsquos and incorporate the lighter nuances of California. In fewer than 10 days, when the annual Top 100 Restaurants are announced, Coi will not be on the list.

Anderson is technically gifted, and there are lots of complex techniques and pretty food on display, but presentation often supersedes the actual taste. The menu feels discombobulated without the distinct personality that distinguishes a four-star restaurant.

The menu has strong classic French elements, but the multicourse menu ($250 for 11 courses on one visit and 10 on another) was a season behind.

In addition to the complete menu flip, there have been significant front-of-the-house changes since Kirkley left, including a new general manager, Michael Judge, who has worked at many top spots in the Bay Area, and returning sommelier Thomas Smith. This transition has helped to boost the service that was lacking in my visits under Kirkley. In fact, the main holdover is pastry chef Riley Redfern, and her desserts were the highlight of both dinners.

The first course, presented on a round pottery disk, was a Lilliputian rectangle of marshmallow capped with lemon gelee a dime-size sunchoke tartlet and a ham and cheese gougere. These built anticipation for the next course, where Anderson layered shaved geoduck marinated in seaweed and shallots with caramelized duck cream, translucent clam jelly, olive oil and a cap of mustard and radish flowers. The spring-like impression left by the flowers belied what turned out to be a heavy grease-like coating in the mouth that nullified the contribution of the other ingredients.

The Dungeness crab that was made into a terrine with a texture of Spam on one visit was thankfully replaced on the most recent visit by a half-dollar round of kohlrabi. The brown-butter roasted root vegetable was coated in almond dust and cut in two before being plated with three balls of lemongrass panna cotta that had the texture of marshmallow. Unfortunately, I couldn&rsquot find much synergy among the elements.

Blood orange souffles with creme fraiche and wafers of lemon and hibiscus Michael Bauer / The Chronicle

What came out next was a surprise that stood out like a flash of light in a dark room: a single thick slice of country bread that the waiter said was from a local bakery.

This seems like a strange place to skimp, especially when it comes like a separate course and grabs the spotlight at other four-star places. At Quince, for example, the waiter delivers a two-tiered wooden box that he separates on the table to display three kinds of unusual house-baked bread.

I also thought of my recent visit to Quince when I saw Anderson&rsquos presentation of two white asparagus spears flanking a dollop of caviar on a pink grapefruit emulsion and dots of fennel jam. The vegetable wasn&rsquot quite done and was too crunchy, a contrast to the dish at Quince where the asparagus was presented in a clear glass bucket filled with an herb-infused poaching broth. The spears were fished out and plated table side. They had absorbed the fragrant liquid and had just a bit of resistance that quickly gave way to the custardy interior.

I was enticed by the look of Anderson&rsquos sturgeon. He placed the fish on a roasted chicken sauce next to a quenelle of pureed savoy cabbage and tarragon, and a chicken heart thickly dusted with California laurel leaf powder and speared with a bay tree twig. However, the green laurel leaf powder coating the heart was bitter, the same issue I had with a later course of pigeon. Each plate was set with a slice of the breast next to a forcemeat lollipop, and a section of mandarin and dime-size pommes souffles thickly coated with ramp powder that quickly overshadowed the mandarin sauce and threw the dish out of balance.


Why the restaurant Coi won't be on this year's Top 100 Restaurants list

The Michelin Guide inspectors are faced with a dilemma this year when they issue the new star ratings. In October they elevated Coi to three stars under chef Matthew Kirkley, but by the time of the announcement, Kirkley had already made the decision to quit so he could work on Bocuse d&rsquoOr, the culinary competition that the Americans won for the first time last year.

Owner Daniel Patterson, who like Kirkley received a four-star Chronicle rating for the food (inconsistent service kept the restaurant from obtaining an overall rating of four stars), had to find a new chef to carry on the legacy. That turned out to be Erik Anderson, whose resume includes a stint as an opening chef at the lauded Catbird Seat in Nashville. Most recently he was in Minneapolis revamping the Grand Cafe.

Anderson arrived in November and worked with Patterson for six weeks to learn Patterson&rsquos vision of California cuisine before taking over the menu in January. Patterson had earned accolades for his unique cooking style. He used seaweeds and foraged products in many dishes, cooked carrots in hay and employed other modern techniques to add rustic notes to his refined compositions.

When Patterson decided he wanted to spend more time on his other projects, he brought in Kirkley from Chicago, and Kirkley remained in the Coi kitchen for two years. While the serene Japanese-inspired interior remained virtually unchanged, Kirkley made the multicourse dinners distinctive by offering a seafood menu that bore little resemblance to the previous offerings.

With Anderson there&rsquos yet another style in play. After two recent visits at Coi under Anderson &mdash one in early March and the other earlier this month &mdash I feel that Anderson is still working to define and refine his own vision.

1 of 4 Goeduck with caramelized duck cream, clam jelly and green onion Michael Bauer / The Chronicle Show More Show Less

2 of 4 Erik Anderson (front) will take over as the new executive chef of Coi. The restaurant recently earned its third Michelin star which came under Matthew Kirkley (back). Anjali Pinto Show More Show Less

3 of 4 The interior of Coi in San Francisco, Calif., is seen on May 13th, 2016. John Storey / Special to The Chronicle 2016 Show More Show Less

4 of 4 People have dinner at Coi in San Francisco, Calif., on May 13th, 2016. John Storey / Special to The Chronicle 2016 Show More Show Less

I&rsquom hoping that in time his ideas will gel. But for now there seems to be uncertainty in how to meld his style with Patterson&rsquos and incorporate the lighter nuances of California. In fewer than 10 days, when the annual Top 100 Restaurants are announced, Coi will not be on the list.

Anderson is technically gifted, and there are lots of complex techniques and pretty food on display, but presentation often supersedes the actual taste. The menu feels discombobulated without the distinct personality that distinguishes a four-star restaurant.

The menu has strong classic French elements, but the multicourse menu ($250 for 11 courses on one visit and 10 on another) was a season behind.

In addition to the complete menu flip, there have been significant front-of-the-house changes since Kirkley left, including a new general manager, Michael Judge, who has worked at many top spots in the Bay Area, and returning sommelier Thomas Smith. This transition has helped to boost the service that was lacking in my visits under Kirkley. In fact, the main holdover is pastry chef Riley Redfern, and her desserts were the highlight of both dinners.

The first course, presented on a round pottery disk, was a Lilliputian rectangle of marshmallow capped with lemon gelee a dime-size sunchoke tartlet and a ham and cheese gougere. These built anticipation for the next course, where Anderson layered shaved geoduck marinated in seaweed and shallots with caramelized duck cream, translucent clam jelly, olive oil and a cap of mustard and radish flowers. The spring-like impression left by the flowers belied what turned out to be a heavy grease-like coating in the mouth that nullified the contribution of the other ingredients.

The Dungeness crab that was made into a terrine with a texture of Spam on one visit was thankfully replaced on the most recent visit by a half-dollar round of kohlrabi. The brown-butter roasted root vegetable was coated in almond dust and cut in two before being plated with three balls of lemongrass panna cotta that had the texture of marshmallow. Unfortunately, I couldn&rsquot find much synergy among the elements.

Blood orange souffles with creme fraiche and wafers of lemon and hibiscus Michael Bauer / The Chronicle

What came out next was a surprise that stood out like a flash of light in a dark room: a single thick slice of country bread that the waiter said was from a local bakery.

This seems like a strange place to skimp, especially when it comes like a separate course and grabs the spotlight at other four-star places. At Quince, for example, the waiter delivers a two-tiered wooden box that he separates on the table to display three kinds of unusual house-baked bread.

I also thought of my recent visit to Quince when I saw Anderson&rsquos presentation of two white asparagus spears flanking a dollop of caviar on a pink grapefruit emulsion and dots of fennel jam. The vegetable wasn&rsquot quite done and was too crunchy, a contrast to the dish at Quince where the asparagus was presented in a clear glass bucket filled with an herb-infused poaching broth. The spears were fished out and plated table side. They had absorbed the fragrant liquid and had just a bit of resistance that quickly gave way to the custardy interior.

I was enticed by the look of Anderson&rsquos sturgeon. He placed the fish on a roasted chicken sauce next to a quenelle of pureed savoy cabbage and tarragon, and a chicken heart thickly dusted with California laurel leaf powder and speared with a bay tree twig. However, the green laurel leaf powder coating the heart was bitter, the same issue I had with a later course of pigeon. Each plate was set with a slice of the breast next to a forcemeat lollipop, and a section of mandarin and dime-size pommes souffles thickly coated with ramp powder that quickly overshadowed the mandarin sauce and threw the dish out of balance.


Why the restaurant Coi won't be on this year's Top 100 Restaurants list

The Michelin Guide inspectors are faced with a dilemma this year when they issue the new star ratings. In October they elevated Coi to three stars under chef Matthew Kirkley, but by the time of the announcement, Kirkley had already made the decision to quit so he could work on Bocuse d&rsquoOr, the culinary competition that the Americans won for the first time last year.

Owner Daniel Patterson, who like Kirkley received a four-star Chronicle rating for the food (inconsistent service kept the restaurant from obtaining an overall rating of four stars), had to find a new chef to carry on the legacy. That turned out to be Erik Anderson, whose resume includes a stint as an opening chef at the lauded Catbird Seat in Nashville. Most recently he was in Minneapolis revamping the Grand Cafe.

Anderson arrived in November and worked with Patterson for six weeks to learn Patterson&rsquos vision of California cuisine before taking over the menu in January. Patterson had earned accolades for his unique cooking style. He used seaweeds and foraged products in many dishes, cooked carrots in hay and employed other modern techniques to add rustic notes to his refined compositions.

When Patterson decided he wanted to spend more time on his other projects, he brought in Kirkley from Chicago, and Kirkley remained in the Coi kitchen for two years. While the serene Japanese-inspired interior remained virtually unchanged, Kirkley made the multicourse dinners distinctive by offering a seafood menu that bore little resemblance to the previous offerings.

With Anderson there&rsquos yet another style in play. After two recent visits at Coi under Anderson &mdash one in early March and the other earlier this month &mdash I feel that Anderson is still working to define and refine his own vision.

1 of 4 Goeduck with caramelized duck cream, clam jelly and green onion Michael Bauer / The Chronicle Show More Show Less

2 of 4 Erik Anderson (front) will take over as the new executive chef of Coi. The restaurant recently earned its third Michelin star which came under Matthew Kirkley (back). Anjali Pinto Show More Show Less

3 of 4 The interior of Coi in San Francisco, Calif., is seen on May 13th, 2016. John Storey / Special to The Chronicle 2016 Show More Show Less

4 of 4 People have dinner at Coi in San Francisco, Calif., on May 13th, 2016. John Storey / Special to The Chronicle 2016 Show More Show Less

I&rsquom hoping that in time his ideas will gel. But for now there seems to be uncertainty in how to meld his style with Patterson&rsquos and incorporate the lighter nuances of California. In fewer than 10 days, when the annual Top 100 Restaurants are announced, Coi will not be on the list.

Anderson is technically gifted, and there are lots of complex techniques and pretty food on display, but presentation often supersedes the actual taste. The menu feels discombobulated without the distinct personality that distinguishes a four-star restaurant.

The menu has strong classic French elements, but the multicourse menu ($250 for 11 courses on one visit and 10 on another) was a season behind.

In addition to the complete menu flip, there have been significant front-of-the-house changes since Kirkley left, including a new general manager, Michael Judge, who has worked at many top spots in the Bay Area, and returning sommelier Thomas Smith. This transition has helped to boost the service that was lacking in my visits under Kirkley. In fact, the main holdover is pastry chef Riley Redfern, and her desserts were the highlight of both dinners.

The first course, presented on a round pottery disk, was a Lilliputian rectangle of marshmallow capped with lemon gelee a dime-size sunchoke tartlet and a ham and cheese gougere. These built anticipation for the next course, where Anderson layered shaved geoduck marinated in seaweed and shallots with caramelized duck cream, translucent clam jelly, olive oil and a cap of mustard and radish flowers. The spring-like impression left by the flowers belied what turned out to be a heavy grease-like coating in the mouth that nullified the contribution of the other ingredients.

The Dungeness crab that was made into a terrine with a texture of Spam on one visit was thankfully replaced on the most recent visit by a half-dollar round of kohlrabi. The brown-butter roasted root vegetable was coated in almond dust and cut in two before being plated with three balls of lemongrass panna cotta that had the texture of marshmallow. Unfortunately, I couldn&rsquot find much synergy among the elements.

Blood orange souffles with creme fraiche and wafers of lemon and hibiscus Michael Bauer / The Chronicle

What came out next was a surprise that stood out like a flash of light in a dark room: a single thick slice of country bread that the waiter said was from a local bakery.

This seems like a strange place to skimp, especially when it comes like a separate course and grabs the spotlight at other four-star places. At Quince, for example, the waiter delivers a two-tiered wooden box that he separates on the table to display three kinds of unusual house-baked bread.

I also thought of my recent visit to Quince when I saw Anderson&rsquos presentation of two white asparagus spears flanking a dollop of caviar on a pink grapefruit emulsion and dots of fennel jam. The vegetable wasn&rsquot quite done and was too crunchy, a contrast to the dish at Quince where the asparagus was presented in a clear glass bucket filled with an herb-infused poaching broth. The spears were fished out and plated table side. They had absorbed the fragrant liquid and had just a bit of resistance that quickly gave way to the custardy interior.

I was enticed by the look of Anderson&rsquos sturgeon. He placed the fish on a roasted chicken sauce next to a quenelle of pureed savoy cabbage and tarragon, and a chicken heart thickly dusted with California laurel leaf powder and speared with a bay tree twig. However, the green laurel leaf powder coating the heart was bitter, the same issue I had with a later course of pigeon. Each plate was set with a slice of the breast next to a forcemeat lollipop, and a section of mandarin and dime-size pommes souffles thickly coated with ramp powder that quickly overshadowed the mandarin sauce and threw the dish out of balance.


Why the restaurant Coi won't be on this year's Top 100 Restaurants list

The Michelin Guide inspectors are faced with a dilemma this year when they issue the new star ratings. In October they elevated Coi to three stars under chef Matthew Kirkley, but by the time of the announcement, Kirkley had already made the decision to quit so he could work on Bocuse d&rsquoOr, the culinary competition that the Americans won for the first time last year.

Owner Daniel Patterson, who like Kirkley received a four-star Chronicle rating for the food (inconsistent service kept the restaurant from obtaining an overall rating of four stars), had to find a new chef to carry on the legacy. That turned out to be Erik Anderson, whose resume includes a stint as an opening chef at the lauded Catbird Seat in Nashville. Most recently he was in Minneapolis revamping the Grand Cafe.

Anderson arrived in November and worked with Patterson for six weeks to learn Patterson&rsquos vision of California cuisine before taking over the menu in January. Patterson had earned accolades for his unique cooking style. He used seaweeds and foraged products in many dishes, cooked carrots in hay and employed other modern techniques to add rustic notes to his refined compositions.

When Patterson decided he wanted to spend more time on his other projects, he brought in Kirkley from Chicago, and Kirkley remained in the Coi kitchen for two years. While the serene Japanese-inspired interior remained virtually unchanged, Kirkley made the multicourse dinners distinctive by offering a seafood menu that bore little resemblance to the previous offerings.

With Anderson there&rsquos yet another style in play. After two recent visits at Coi under Anderson &mdash one in early March and the other earlier this month &mdash I feel that Anderson is still working to define and refine his own vision.

1 of 4 Goeduck with caramelized duck cream, clam jelly and green onion Michael Bauer / The Chronicle Show More Show Less

2 of 4 Erik Anderson (front) will take over as the new executive chef of Coi. The restaurant recently earned its third Michelin star which came under Matthew Kirkley (back). Anjali Pinto Show More Show Less

3 of 4 The interior of Coi in San Francisco, Calif., is seen on May 13th, 2016. John Storey / Special to The Chronicle 2016 Show More Show Less

4 of 4 People have dinner at Coi in San Francisco, Calif., on May 13th, 2016. John Storey / Special to The Chronicle 2016 Show More Show Less

I&rsquom hoping that in time his ideas will gel. But for now there seems to be uncertainty in how to meld his style with Patterson&rsquos and incorporate the lighter nuances of California. In fewer than 10 days, when the annual Top 100 Restaurants are announced, Coi will not be on the list.

Anderson is technically gifted, and there are lots of complex techniques and pretty food on display, but presentation often supersedes the actual taste. The menu feels discombobulated without the distinct personality that distinguishes a four-star restaurant.

The menu has strong classic French elements, but the multicourse menu ($250 for 11 courses on one visit and 10 on another) was a season behind.

In addition to the complete menu flip, there have been significant front-of-the-house changes since Kirkley left, including a new general manager, Michael Judge, who has worked at many top spots in the Bay Area, and returning sommelier Thomas Smith. This transition has helped to boost the service that was lacking in my visits under Kirkley. In fact, the main holdover is pastry chef Riley Redfern, and her desserts were the highlight of both dinners.

The first course, presented on a round pottery disk, was a Lilliputian rectangle of marshmallow capped with lemon gelee a dime-size sunchoke tartlet and a ham and cheese gougere. These built anticipation for the next course, where Anderson layered shaved geoduck marinated in seaweed and shallots with caramelized duck cream, translucent clam jelly, olive oil and a cap of mustard and radish flowers. The spring-like impression left by the flowers belied what turned out to be a heavy grease-like coating in the mouth that nullified the contribution of the other ingredients.

The Dungeness crab that was made into a terrine with a texture of Spam on one visit was thankfully replaced on the most recent visit by a half-dollar round of kohlrabi. The brown-butter roasted root vegetable was coated in almond dust and cut in two before being plated with three balls of lemongrass panna cotta that had the texture of marshmallow. Unfortunately, I couldn&rsquot find much synergy among the elements.

Blood orange souffles with creme fraiche and wafers of lemon and hibiscus Michael Bauer / The Chronicle

What came out next was a surprise that stood out like a flash of light in a dark room: a single thick slice of country bread that the waiter said was from a local bakery.

This seems like a strange place to skimp, especially when it comes like a separate course and grabs the spotlight at other four-star places. At Quince, for example, the waiter delivers a two-tiered wooden box that he separates on the table to display three kinds of unusual house-baked bread.

I also thought of my recent visit to Quince when I saw Anderson&rsquos presentation of two white asparagus spears flanking a dollop of caviar on a pink grapefruit emulsion and dots of fennel jam. The vegetable wasn&rsquot quite done and was too crunchy, a contrast to the dish at Quince where the asparagus was presented in a clear glass bucket filled with an herb-infused poaching broth. The spears were fished out and plated table side. They had absorbed the fragrant liquid and had just a bit of resistance that quickly gave way to the custardy interior.

I was enticed by the look of Anderson&rsquos sturgeon. He placed the fish on a roasted chicken sauce next to a quenelle of pureed savoy cabbage and tarragon, and a chicken heart thickly dusted with California laurel leaf powder and speared with a bay tree twig. However, the green laurel leaf powder coating the heart was bitter, the same issue I had with a later course of pigeon. Each plate was set with a slice of the breast next to a forcemeat lollipop, and a section of mandarin and dime-size pommes souffles thickly coated with ramp powder that quickly overshadowed the mandarin sauce and threw the dish out of balance.


Why the restaurant Coi won't be on this year's Top 100 Restaurants list

The Michelin Guide inspectors are faced with a dilemma this year when they issue the new star ratings. In October they elevated Coi to three stars under chef Matthew Kirkley, but by the time of the announcement, Kirkley had already made the decision to quit so he could work on Bocuse d&rsquoOr, the culinary competition that the Americans won for the first time last year.

Owner Daniel Patterson, who like Kirkley received a four-star Chronicle rating for the food (inconsistent service kept the restaurant from obtaining an overall rating of four stars), had to find a new chef to carry on the legacy. That turned out to be Erik Anderson, whose resume includes a stint as an opening chef at the lauded Catbird Seat in Nashville. Most recently he was in Minneapolis revamping the Grand Cafe.

Anderson arrived in November and worked with Patterson for six weeks to learn Patterson&rsquos vision of California cuisine before taking over the menu in January. Patterson had earned accolades for his unique cooking style. He used seaweeds and foraged products in many dishes, cooked carrots in hay and employed other modern techniques to add rustic notes to his refined compositions.

When Patterson decided he wanted to spend more time on his other projects, he brought in Kirkley from Chicago, and Kirkley remained in the Coi kitchen for two years. While the serene Japanese-inspired interior remained virtually unchanged, Kirkley made the multicourse dinners distinctive by offering a seafood menu that bore little resemblance to the previous offerings.

With Anderson there&rsquos yet another style in play. After two recent visits at Coi under Anderson &mdash one in early March and the other earlier this month &mdash I feel that Anderson is still working to define and refine his own vision.

1 of 4 Goeduck with caramelized duck cream, clam jelly and green onion Michael Bauer / The Chronicle Show More Show Less

2 of 4 Erik Anderson (front) will take over as the new executive chef of Coi. The restaurant recently earned its third Michelin star which came under Matthew Kirkley (back). Anjali Pinto Show More Show Less

3 of 4 The interior of Coi in San Francisco, Calif., is seen on May 13th, 2016. John Storey / Special to The Chronicle 2016 Show More Show Less

4 of 4 People have dinner at Coi in San Francisco, Calif., on May 13th, 2016. John Storey / Special to The Chronicle 2016 Show More Show Less

I&rsquom hoping that in time his ideas will gel. But for now there seems to be uncertainty in how to meld his style with Patterson&rsquos and incorporate the lighter nuances of California. In fewer than 10 days, when the annual Top 100 Restaurants are announced, Coi will not be on the list.

Anderson is technically gifted, and there are lots of complex techniques and pretty food on display, but presentation often supersedes the actual taste. The menu feels discombobulated without the distinct personality that distinguishes a four-star restaurant.

The menu has strong classic French elements, but the multicourse menu ($250 for 11 courses on one visit and 10 on another) was a season behind.

In addition to the complete menu flip, there have been significant front-of-the-house changes since Kirkley left, including a new general manager, Michael Judge, who has worked at many top spots in the Bay Area, and returning sommelier Thomas Smith. This transition has helped to boost the service that was lacking in my visits under Kirkley. In fact, the main holdover is pastry chef Riley Redfern, and her desserts were the highlight of both dinners.

The first course, presented on a round pottery disk, was a Lilliputian rectangle of marshmallow capped with lemon gelee a dime-size sunchoke tartlet and a ham and cheese gougere. These built anticipation for the next course, where Anderson layered shaved geoduck marinated in seaweed and shallots with caramelized duck cream, translucent clam jelly, olive oil and a cap of mustard and radish flowers. The spring-like impression left by the flowers belied what turned out to be a heavy grease-like coating in the mouth that nullified the contribution of the other ingredients.

The Dungeness crab that was made into a terrine with a texture of Spam on one visit was thankfully replaced on the most recent visit by a half-dollar round of kohlrabi. The brown-butter roasted root vegetable was coated in almond dust and cut in two before being plated with three balls of lemongrass panna cotta that had the texture of marshmallow. Unfortunately, I couldn&rsquot find much synergy among the elements.

Blood orange souffles with creme fraiche and wafers of lemon and hibiscus Michael Bauer / The Chronicle

What came out next was a surprise that stood out like a flash of light in a dark room: a single thick slice of country bread that the waiter said was from a local bakery.

This seems like a strange place to skimp, especially when it comes like a separate course and grabs the spotlight at other four-star places. At Quince, for example, the waiter delivers a two-tiered wooden box that he separates on the table to display three kinds of unusual house-baked bread.

I also thought of my recent visit to Quince when I saw Anderson&rsquos presentation of two white asparagus spears flanking a dollop of caviar on a pink grapefruit emulsion and dots of fennel jam. The vegetable wasn&rsquot quite done and was too crunchy, a contrast to the dish at Quince where the asparagus was presented in a clear glass bucket filled with an herb-infused poaching broth. The spears were fished out and plated table side. They had absorbed the fragrant liquid and had just a bit of resistance that quickly gave way to the custardy interior.

I was enticed by the look of Anderson&rsquos sturgeon. He placed the fish on a roasted chicken sauce next to a quenelle of pureed savoy cabbage and tarragon, and a chicken heart thickly dusted with California laurel leaf powder and speared with a bay tree twig. However, the green laurel leaf powder coating the heart was bitter, the same issue I had with a later course of pigeon. Each plate was set with a slice of the breast next to a forcemeat lollipop, and a section of mandarin and dime-size pommes souffles thickly coated with ramp powder that quickly overshadowed the mandarin sauce and threw the dish out of balance.


Why the restaurant Coi won't be on this year's Top 100 Restaurants list

The Michelin Guide inspectors are faced with a dilemma this year when they issue the new star ratings. In October they elevated Coi to three stars under chef Matthew Kirkley, but by the time of the announcement, Kirkley had already made the decision to quit so he could work on Bocuse d&rsquoOr, the culinary competition that the Americans won for the first time last year.

Owner Daniel Patterson, who like Kirkley received a four-star Chronicle rating for the food (inconsistent service kept the restaurant from obtaining an overall rating of four stars), had to find a new chef to carry on the legacy. That turned out to be Erik Anderson, whose resume includes a stint as an opening chef at the lauded Catbird Seat in Nashville. Most recently he was in Minneapolis revamping the Grand Cafe.

Anderson arrived in November and worked with Patterson for six weeks to learn Patterson&rsquos vision of California cuisine before taking over the menu in January. Patterson had earned accolades for his unique cooking style. He used seaweeds and foraged products in many dishes, cooked carrots in hay and employed other modern techniques to add rustic notes to his refined compositions.

When Patterson decided he wanted to spend more time on his other projects, he brought in Kirkley from Chicago, and Kirkley remained in the Coi kitchen for two years. While the serene Japanese-inspired interior remained virtually unchanged, Kirkley made the multicourse dinners distinctive by offering a seafood menu that bore little resemblance to the previous offerings.

With Anderson there&rsquos yet another style in play. After two recent visits at Coi under Anderson &mdash one in early March and the other earlier this month &mdash I feel that Anderson is still working to define and refine his own vision.

1 of 4 Goeduck with caramelized duck cream, clam jelly and green onion Michael Bauer / The Chronicle Show More Show Less

2 of 4 Erik Anderson (front) will take over as the new executive chef of Coi. The restaurant recently earned its third Michelin star which came under Matthew Kirkley (back). Anjali Pinto Show More Show Less

3 of 4 The interior of Coi in San Francisco, Calif., is seen on May 13th, 2016. John Storey / Special to The Chronicle 2016 Show More Show Less

4 of 4 People have dinner at Coi in San Francisco, Calif., on May 13th, 2016. John Storey / Special to The Chronicle 2016 Show More Show Less

I&rsquom hoping that in time his ideas will gel. But for now there seems to be uncertainty in how to meld his style with Patterson&rsquos and incorporate the lighter nuances of California. In fewer than 10 days, when the annual Top 100 Restaurants are announced, Coi will not be on the list.

Anderson is technically gifted, and there are lots of complex techniques and pretty food on display, but presentation often supersedes the actual taste. The menu feels discombobulated without the distinct personality that distinguishes a four-star restaurant.

The menu has strong classic French elements, but the multicourse menu ($250 for 11 courses on one visit and 10 on another) was a season behind.

In addition to the complete menu flip, there have been significant front-of-the-house changes since Kirkley left, including a new general manager, Michael Judge, who has worked at many top spots in the Bay Area, and returning sommelier Thomas Smith. This transition has helped to boost the service that was lacking in my visits under Kirkley. In fact, the main holdover is pastry chef Riley Redfern, and her desserts were the highlight of both dinners.

The first course, presented on a round pottery disk, was a Lilliputian rectangle of marshmallow capped with lemon gelee a dime-size sunchoke tartlet and a ham and cheese gougere. These built anticipation for the next course, where Anderson layered shaved geoduck marinated in seaweed and shallots with caramelized duck cream, translucent clam jelly, olive oil and a cap of mustard and radish flowers. The spring-like impression left by the flowers belied what turned out to be a heavy grease-like coating in the mouth that nullified the contribution of the other ingredients.

The Dungeness crab that was made into a terrine with a texture of Spam on one visit was thankfully replaced on the most recent visit by a half-dollar round of kohlrabi. The brown-butter roasted root vegetable was coated in almond dust and cut in two before being plated with three balls of lemongrass panna cotta that had the texture of marshmallow. Unfortunately, I couldn&rsquot find much synergy among the elements.

Blood orange souffles with creme fraiche and wafers of lemon and hibiscus Michael Bauer / The Chronicle

What came out next was a surprise that stood out like a flash of light in a dark room: a single thick slice of country bread that the waiter said was from a local bakery.

This seems like a strange place to skimp, especially when it comes like a separate course and grabs the spotlight at other four-star places. At Quince, for example, the waiter delivers a two-tiered wooden box that he separates on the table to display three kinds of unusual house-baked bread.

I also thought of my recent visit to Quince when I saw Anderson&rsquos presentation of two white asparagus spears flanking a dollop of caviar on a pink grapefruit emulsion and dots of fennel jam. The vegetable wasn&rsquot quite done and was too crunchy, a contrast to the dish at Quince where the asparagus was presented in a clear glass bucket filled with an herb-infused poaching broth. The spears were fished out and plated table side. They had absorbed the fragrant liquid and had just a bit of resistance that quickly gave way to the custardy interior.

I was enticed by the look of Anderson&rsquos sturgeon. He placed the fish on a roasted chicken sauce next to a quenelle of pureed savoy cabbage and tarragon, and a chicken heart thickly dusted with California laurel leaf powder and speared with a bay tree twig. However, the green laurel leaf powder coating the heart was bitter, the same issue I had with a later course of pigeon. Each plate was set with a slice of the breast next to a forcemeat lollipop, and a section of mandarin and dime-size pommes souffles thickly coated with ramp powder that quickly overshadowed the mandarin sauce and threw the dish out of balance.


Why the restaurant Coi won't be on this year's Top 100 Restaurants list

The Michelin Guide inspectors are faced with a dilemma this year when they issue the new star ratings. In October they elevated Coi to three stars under chef Matthew Kirkley, but by the time of the announcement, Kirkley had already made the decision to quit so he could work on Bocuse d&rsquoOr, the culinary competition that the Americans won for the first time last year.

Owner Daniel Patterson, who like Kirkley received a four-star Chronicle rating for the food (inconsistent service kept the restaurant from obtaining an overall rating of four stars), had to find a new chef to carry on the legacy. That turned out to be Erik Anderson, whose resume includes a stint as an opening chef at the lauded Catbird Seat in Nashville. Most recently he was in Minneapolis revamping the Grand Cafe.

Anderson arrived in November and worked with Patterson for six weeks to learn Patterson&rsquos vision of California cuisine before taking over the menu in January. Patterson had earned accolades for his unique cooking style. He used seaweeds and foraged products in many dishes, cooked carrots in hay and employed other modern techniques to add rustic notes to his refined compositions.

When Patterson decided he wanted to spend more time on his other projects, he brought in Kirkley from Chicago, and Kirkley remained in the Coi kitchen for two years. While the serene Japanese-inspired interior remained virtually unchanged, Kirkley made the multicourse dinners distinctive by offering a seafood menu that bore little resemblance to the previous offerings.

With Anderson there&rsquos yet another style in play. After two recent visits at Coi under Anderson &mdash one in early March and the other earlier this month &mdash I feel that Anderson is still working to define and refine his own vision.

1 of 4 Goeduck with caramelized duck cream, clam jelly and green onion Michael Bauer / The Chronicle Show More Show Less

2 of 4 Erik Anderson (front) will take over as the new executive chef of Coi. The restaurant recently earned its third Michelin star which came under Matthew Kirkley (back). Anjali Pinto Show More Show Less

3 of 4 The interior of Coi in San Francisco, Calif., is seen on May 13th, 2016. John Storey / Special to The Chronicle 2016 Show More Show Less

4 of 4 People have dinner at Coi in San Francisco, Calif., on May 13th, 2016. John Storey / Special to The Chronicle 2016 Show More Show Less

I&rsquom hoping that in time his ideas will gel. But for now there seems to be uncertainty in how to meld his style with Patterson&rsquos and incorporate the lighter nuances of California. In fewer than 10 days, when the annual Top 100 Restaurants are announced, Coi will not be on the list.

Anderson is technically gifted, and there are lots of complex techniques and pretty food on display, but presentation often supersedes the actual taste. The menu feels discombobulated without the distinct personality that distinguishes a four-star restaurant.

The menu has strong classic French elements, but the multicourse menu ($250 for 11 courses on one visit and 10 on another) was a season behind.

In addition to the complete menu flip, there have been significant front-of-the-house changes since Kirkley left, including a new general manager, Michael Judge, who has worked at many top spots in the Bay Area, and returning sommelier Thomas Smith. This transition has helped to boost the service that was lacking in my visits under Kirkley. In fact, the main holdover is pastry chef Riley Redfern, and her desserts were the highlight of both dinners.

The first course, presented on a round pottery disk, was a Lilliputian rectangle of marshmallow capped with lemon gelee a dime-size sunchoke tartlet and a ham and cheese gougere. These built anticipation for the next course, where Anderson layered shaved geoduck marinated in seaweed and shallots with caramelized duck cream, translucent clam jelly, olive oil and a cap of mustard and radish flowers. The spring-like impression left by the flowers belied what turned out to be a heavy grease-like coating in the mouth that nullified the contribution of the other ingredients.

The Dungeness crab that was made into a terrine with a texture of Spam on one visit was thankfully replaced on the most recent visit by a half-dollar round of kohlrabi. The brown-butter roasted root vegetable was coated in almond dust and cut in two before being plated with three balls of lemongrass panna cotta that had the texture of marshmallow. Unfortunately, I couldn&rsquot find much synergy among the elements.

Blood orange souffles with creme fraiche and wafers of lemon and hibiscus Michael Bauer / The Chronicle

What came out next was a surprise that stood out like a flash of light in a dark room: a single thick slice of country bread that the waiter said was from a local bakery.

This seems like a strange place to skimp, especially when it comes like a separate course and grabs the spotlight at other four-star places. At Quince, for example, the waiter delivers a two-tiered wooden box that he separates on the table to display three kinds of unusual house-baked bread.

I also thought of my recent visit to Quince when I saw Anderson&rsquos presentation of two white asparagus spears flanking a dollop of caviar on a pink grapefruit emulsion and dots of fennel jam. The vegetable wasn&rsquot quite done and was too crunchy, a contrast to the dish at Quince where the asparagus was presented in a clear glass bucket filled with an herb-infused poaching broth. The spears were fished out and plated table side. They had absorbed the fragrant liquid and had just a bit of resistance that quickly gave way to the custardy interior.

I was enticed by the look of Anderson&rsquos sturgeon. He placed the fish on a roasted chicken sauce next to a quenelle of pureed savoy cabbage and tarragon, and a chicken heart thickly dusted with California laurel leaf powder and speared with a bay tree twig. However, the green laurel leaf powder coating the heart was bitter, the same issue I had with a later course of pigeon. Each plate was set with a slice of the breast next to a forcemeat lollipop, and a section of mandarin and dime-size pommes souffles thickly coated with ramp powder that quickly overshadowed the mandarin sauce and threw the dish out of balance.


Watch the video: Coi: Stories and Recipes. Daniel Patterson. Talks at Google (August 2022).