Pier 5 (on the Embarcadero, near Broadway), SF | 415.704.8866 | website
I met up with my friends Chris and Libby for some long overdue catching up at the festive and crowded bar at Michael Chiarello’s new restaurant Coqueta. I tried to make reservations and was told they were booked solid for the next 30 days, but they served the full menu at the bar where you had very good chances of finding a seat if you got there early (the bar opens at 3). It was almost completely full when I got there at 5, but I was lucky to grab a seat in the corner and added a couple more to my bar property while I waited for my friends. The bar is casual and inviting, a glass walled pavillion with a kickass view of the bay, there are a couple of picnic tables out front which are popular spots when the sun is shining.
I enjoyed a glass of Spanish rose which I thought was a bit pricey for $17, but it was a generous pour served in a cute decanter that is actually a 250-milliliter traditional porrón, a convivial communal drinking vessel that you are supposed to hold at arms length then tilt so that a thin stream of wine pours directly into your mouth… Glad they gave me the cup as I have notoriously poor aim. My server was super busy but kept checking in and even helped me procure more chairs over time.
Joe Cleveland, who was previously at Jose Andres‘ restaurants in D.C., runs the bar featuring a variety of craft cocktails and house-distilled gin and tonics. The party next to me enthusiastically posed for me with their convivial beverages. From the top and then counterclockwise, The Sun never sets ($11), licor 43, tequila 123 añejo, lime, fresh pressed pineapple juice, mezcal, pineapple espuma brulee (it really did have a toasted top), Spanish Golden Ale ($11) a twist on G&T made with Ransom old tom gin, fever tree mediterranean tonic, amontillado sherry, chocolate bitters, gold (it was seriously shimmering in the sunlight!), lemon espuma, and lastly, a Mojito “Costa Brava” ($12), mint charged white rum, lime, minted cane sugar, tarragon-lime “air” in a vintage looking gold rimmed cocktail glass. Salud!
My friend Libby had the J&T ($5), a delectable soft libation made with lime, juniper berries, and Fevertree Mediterranean Tonic,
We had to try the Tattas Bravas, potato and jamón nuggets with bravas salsa and alioli ($8) which everyone says are like tatertots. They were delicate and refined, each came topped with a mound of garlicky lemon aioli and sprinkled with fresh herbs. Secretly I’m going to say that I prefer the lusty MSG flavoring of tatertots dipped in ketchup.
I think we ordered three of all of the Pintxos (one for each of us). which are bite size skewers ($2.50 each). This is the house cured boquerones, which were briny white anchovies, pimento stuffed olives, pearl onions, and pickled guindilla peppers. A mouth puckering delight.
On the far left, Chorizo, roasted artichokes and piquillo peppers. Baby beets, cana de cabra cheese, citrus, and spring onion a la plancha in the center. These really are just a bite each and quite delightful, and I would recommend ordering 2 or 3 of each per person…
On a separate plank, we had Jamon Serrano, Manchego, and apricot sherry conserva skewers, and quails egg “Diablo”, pickled mustard seed, and jamon serrano on the right.
We shared a classic Paella ($40) which was supposed to serve 2 (the menu advises that it takes 30-40 minutes to prepare), made with bomba rice which was infused with the rich flavors of jamon serrano- shellfish broth, roasted tomato, chorizo, gulf prawns, and clams. It came with a wonderful lemon aioli along with slices of pickled peppers, which I generously spooned into my plate, as I found it added a tart swanky enthusiasm to each bite.
The shellfish were all juicy and tender, the sausage was a bit tough, but savory and delicious. I loved every bite of this dish.
We went for a dainty dessert of Manchego Cheesecake pops with caramel popcorn ($4). It was a little bit savory, sweet and creamy, the caramel popcorn added a lovely contrasting texture, a perfect ending to our meal.
Here’s a peek into the bustling main dining room, which seemed rather loud, although the chef’s bar in front of the open kitchen looked very inviting.
There were so many dishes left to try, the charcuterie and cheese plates, the hot and cold tapas (ibérico de bellota pork shoulder), the house cured jamón serrano… I’ll be back for sure, I really enjoyed hanging out at the bar on a sunny afternoon!!