I love the tapas so much that I was willing to eat at a restaurant that I've been on the fence about. I'm a fan of nice guys and a hater of douchebags. When I watched Top Chef and Top Chef Masters, I gained a horrible impression of Michael "How do you say my name" Chiarello. What a douche! Is he really like this in real life?
Against all odds, I found myself in his newest San Francisco restaurant along the Embarcadero. Why?? Because it was all about Spanish tapas and the reviews have been greatly positive. Coqueta, meaning "flirt" or "infatuation", interprets Spanish tapas in a playful and modern way.
To my chagrin... the food was awesome. The cocktails and Spanish wines selection are thoughtful, and the tapas are innovative while making you feel like you're actually in Spain.
And just when I resigned myself to think that he's an okay guy because he's food is so good... A shiny Lexus pulls up next to the restaurant, on the sidewalk. Out comes a guy who moves like he owns the sidewalk. As fate would have it, just as I was softening up to the guy, Chiarello himself walks into the restaurant, passes by the two or three tables of patrons, and schmoozes with his managers. Our server saw us looking and talking about him and thought we were gushing fans (hah!). She offered to have him take a photo with us. We politely smiled and didn't reject nor accept the offer, as we wanted to see how it would play out. Minutes later, he walked out, still bypassing his customers, and parked his car properly. More minutes later, he came back in, again not acknowledging any diners, and sat in a corner table reviewing business with a manager. Now, I'm not saying he had to talk to everyone. But what's it to simply smile at the people eating your food?
The build up of these minutes made the food that we thoroughly enjoyed taste different. As great as it was, I don't want to give my money to a guy like this. I'll save it and go to Spain where the Spanish chefs are so genuinely nice, smile fully, and converse with their customers.
|Eating at the bar|
|Tariff Gin & Tonic|
Jamon Iberico infused gin, acorn and apricot tonic, orange, and cava
|House cured boquerones|
|White anchovies, olives, pearl onions, and guindilla peppers|
|Huevos de Cordoniz|
|Quails egg "diablo", pickled mustard seed, and Jamon Serrano|
Freshly dug, lightly smoked, crispy new potatoes, bravas salsa, and garlic aioli
|Verduras a la Catalana|
Vineyard greens Catalan style, caper-raisin puree with raisins, pinenuts, and garlic
|"Fantasia" de Fideua|
Puffed vermicelli with gulf shrimp, crispy baby squid, jamon gamba broth en gel, lemon aioli
|Pulpo a la Parilla|
Wood-grilled octopus, fingerling potatoes, pimenton olive oil
|Asturian apple pie|
With Cabrales blue cheese ice cream