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Any place that touts itself as a tapas or even Basque cuisine makes me a little hesitant since I've never found any place that comes close to what I had in San Sebastian.  Michael Chiarello took a stab at it with Coqueta.  The restaurant is small and quaint with a bright, homey feel.  It was fun to look around the restaurant and see small ingredients used as decorations that reminded me of Spain.  While the cuisine still doesn't come close to the fabulous food I had in San Sebastian (see post HERE), its the closer than anything I've in SF so far.

Yay!  Estrella Damn!  A taste of a Barcelona beer was just the start of the Basque meal that took me back to memories of my Spain trip.

One thing I love about the pintxos in Spain was the plentiful seafood dishes.  The calamari were chewy and plated with squid ink aioli and onion aioli.

The wood grilled octopus was one of my favorite dishes of the night.  The octopus was tender, but chewy with a nice smokey, grilled taste.  A little firm, but a little soft, you can never go wrong with fingerling potatoes.

At $2.50 a skewer, its a fun way to snack before the rest of the meal comes.  Today's skewers choices were (right to left): quail egg "Diablo", pickled mustard seed and jamon serrano; house cured boquerones, white anchovies, olives, pearl onions, guindilla peppers; chorizo, roasted artichokes, and piquillo peppers; jamon serrano, manchego, and apricot-sherry conserva; baby beets, caña de cabra cheese, citrus, and spring onion a la plancha.

Trying to save room for the rest of the meal, I only chose 3 skewers (left to right): manchego cheese, quail egg, and chorizo.

Sunny side egg served with shrimp, crispy potato strings, and chorizo dressing.  The "gravy"made of bits of chorizo reminds me of my favorite XO sauce, but it made this dish a little too oily.  The shredded potato strings reminded me of this dish I had in San Sebastian, Spain (see post HERE)

I decided bypass the most obvious rice dish (paella) and choose the arroz cremosa.  Snaps for using the correct rice (bomba rice) for this dish as well as the paella.  The scallops were so lush and tender.  The English peas and sprouts gave this dish a nice fresh taste. 

The pluma seems to be the most popular dish, making its appearance on almost every table in the restaurant.  At $38, this was surprisingly the most expensive dish of the night.  The Iberico de bellota pork shoulder loin was lightly covered with honey chili glaze.  While the meat was cooked to juicy perfection, I was hoping for some charred or grilled taste to the meat.  I found the glaze to be too sweet for the meat and would rather have it with just a dash of salt granules. 

A bottle of chili glaze is given, in case you prefer your meat even sweeter!

Even if you are stuffed, Coqueta offers dessert bites as well as regular sized desserts.  Manchego cheesecake served on sticks with caramel popcorn.  A nice density with very cheese taste and texture.

Another dessert bite was the sangria "pop-rocksickles".  An adult popsickle with a sprinkle of poprocks for childhood nostalgia.  Cute, fun idea, but hard to eat.

Churros con chocolate is a nice way to end the meal.  Having had my fill of churros con churros travelling through Spain, I was excited to see this on the menu.  The drinkable chocolate was mixed with cinnamon and used for dipping the fried dough.  Although the churros had a nice crust, the insides were mushy.  The chocolate sauce was much thinner than the ones that I had in Spain.  It didn't coat the churros nicely.  Pretty disappointing. 

Address:               Coqueta
                              The Embarcadero
                              Pier 5
                              San Francisco, CA
Type:                     Spanish

Popular chomps:   grilled octopus
                               grilled razor clams
                               Chefs Grand Selection of Cured Meats and Cheeses
                               manchego cheesecake bites
                               arroz cremosa
                               roasted padron peppers

Chomp worthy:     grilled octopus
                              arroz cremosa          

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