Best Revamp San Francisco 2006 - Coco 500
Chef-owner Loretta Keller refreshed and rejuvenated her popular SOMA spot, Bizou, without changing her interesting and personal pan-European style of cooking. The cozy bistro feel has been replaced by sleek modern décor, with art glass lights, bare wooden tables, new big windows, and an enlarged bar area. The menu still features such signature dishes as Keller's wonderful duck liver terrine, flatbread heaped with grilled onions, and succulent beef cheeks. The small-plates craze is recognized by a list of 10 dishes (perfect for bar eats as well as sharing at the table) called "small starts," which include green beans fried tempura-style, dry-roasted chickpeas served still in their husks, and taco chips topped with beef mole and guacamole. Duck confit as well as artisanal pizzas issue forth from the wood-burning oven. Irresistible vegetable sides (found under the rubric "California dirt") include cipollini onions and bacon in a cream sauce dusted with breadcrumbs, caraway-glazed baby carrots, and creamed corn with marjoram and smoky paprika. We hardly miss Bizou.