photo credit: Vicky Stetekluh
It’s fun to think about packing up and moving to another country. Not just traveling, when you sprint off to the Eiffel Tower or spend way to long trying to take that photo in front of the Leaning Tower of Pisa, but really experiencing everyday life somewhere. You’d build your own network of casual spots that you wouldn’t otherwise have known about if you were just passing through. And somewhere between the bar that’s seemingly always empty, but plays great music, and the cafe that smuggles in the best dates money can buy, you’d find a place like Cocotte.
Cocotte is a small French restaurant on Hyde Street in Nob Hill that we probably walked by 30 times before we noticed it. And if we randomly moved to France, it’s the kind of place we can imagine ourselves living above and stopping into at least once a week.
The dining room here is made up of roughly 40 tightly packed seats between the open kitchen and yellow stucco walls. It’s warm and not overly crowded for how small it is, and you get the feeling that it would be a good place to wait out a sudden downpour. If you look around and listen, you’ll hear conversations about how much more expensive laundromats in the neighborhood have gotten in recent years and see people hugging the bartender they know by name. You’ll quickly want to stage a few friends walking by who just “happen to notice you inside” so you can feel just as cool too.
photo credit: Vicky Stetekluh
The menu here is full of French classics like mussels, rotisserie chicken, and vegetable gratins, but the two best dishes are the coq au vin and the beef Wellington. They’re both simple and good and the kinds of things you’d make at home if your boss would ever respond to that email about shorter hours increasing productivity. The coq au vin is super tender, and the Wellington is a filet wrapped in mushrooms and puff pastry, which is always tough to beat, but it’s especially great considering it’s something you’d never expect to see at a place this casual.
Cocotte is a casual weeknight dinner spot where you’ll always get a good, solid meal - nothing more, nothing less - and that’s exactly why we like it. It’s the perfect place to escape for a while when it turns out your heater is broken, or after your best friend re-gifts the birthday present you gave them back to you. The next time you think about doing something drastic like buying a one way ticket out of SF, or cutting your own hair for a change of pace, come here, have a glass of wine, and eat some slowly braised chicken and gratin potatoes first.
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Chicken Liver Parfait
You can order this for two, four, or six people, but the portion is huge so underestimate your numbers.
Coq Au Vin
This is the single best thing on the menu, and you could probably split it between two people. But then again, you don’t have to if you don’t want to.
A classic beef Wellington served with a marrow bone. If you’re on a date, go for it.
The only thing here we wouldn’t order again. The beef is a little gummy, and while the nori it comes with is a good idea, you’ll want more of the bread from the chicken liver instead.
A solid rotisserie chicken served with roccola pesto, romesco sauce, and porcini mushroom sauce. Eating a rotisserie chicken at home after a shtty day can be a cry for help, but ordering it here is the beginning of the healing process.
Parmesan Parisian gnocchi with a soft egg, rainbow chard, and trumpet mushrooms, all over a frisee salad. This is lighter than the other mains, but will still fill you up. We wish there was more gnocchi though.
Potato & Pyramide Goat Cheese Gratin
If you sent us a hurtful text that you never intended for us to see and brought us this as an apology, we’d probably forgive you.
When people try to replace pasta and rice with cauliflower, this is what they’re shooting for. There is definitely no nutritional value left in this and we’re OK with that.