Stepping into Coco500 it immediately reminded me of my beloved Jose Ramirez cedar top classical guitar. The entire restaurant from walls, borders, chairs, tables and bathroom is paneled with the warm honey oak color. The glowing lights even with the row of windows bringing in natural sun made it feel like a Santa-esque workshop for classical guitars. If John Williams or the Assad Brother's beautiful melody was playing in the background I would never leave. Loretta Keller of Coco500 was nominated for the 2009 James Beard Award for Best Chef in Pacific region. The winner was Douglas Keane of Cyrus in Healdsburg, CA.
Like many restaurants I've been to lately, bread is brought on request. We asked for the bread when our $8 duck liver terrine didn't have enough croutons. The bread is served with olive oil, which I prefer over butter because it's lighter and too many times the butter is as cold as a rock.
The duck liver terrine was a generous portion served with pickled onions, carrot and pickles, with condiments of dijon and stone grounded mustard. There are big pieces of liver, a heavy hand on ground black pepper, the liver was light and fluffy like a mousse but it still retain the hearty texture. It would have been nice to have a few more pieces of carrots and pickles to the ratio of terrine.
We couldn't miss the #75 $7 batter fried green beans served with aioli since it is on The Big 100 Eats List and Coco500's signature dish. We were surprised at the amount piled neatly and high like Lincoln Logs. The beans were fried perfectly, almost transparent crispy dough and the beans were juicy and crunchy. The green beans are fried exactly the way my father does with a rice flour batter used in all Chinese cooking.
Since I'm complying a burger list I also couldn't miss the $12 COCOburger with house made chips and pickles, I added raw onions and sharp cheddar cheese for $1 each. I always like to cook my burger "medium rare" like my steaks. The burger was sandwiched with a thick, square, un-toasted white bread, visually it reminded me of a white castle couture burger. The meat was cooked more well than I like my burger and needed a sprinkle of salt, but it was tall enough I needed to stretch my mouth before I took a big CHOMP. The house made chips were perfect, sliver thin and crunchy.
Coco500 is on Michael Bauer's 2009 Top 100 Restaurant in the Bay Area.
500 Brannan St
San Francisco, CA 94107