8976 161st Ave. NE
Redmond WA 98052
Classic Northwest Seafood with Good Delivery
By: Steve G
Coho Cafe is a small local seafood chain with two locations on the Eastside. From the name, it's easy to infer that Coho Cafe specializes in seafood, and in particular, salmon. But don't worry, if you're not a big fan of fish, there are also other alternatives such as ribs, steaks, burgers, and chicken.
The decor of the restaurant has an interesting industrial look to it. With crazy variations of forks decorating the entire restaurant, it looked symbolic of a wild salmon run. Coho has a slick look that includes sheet metal work and pieces of art. Hanging in the middle of the restaurant is the most eye-catching piece: an impressive large copper fish hung over the fireplace mantle. The high ceiling helped to create a spacious feel, while the dividers section off parts of the restaurant and create a more intimate setting. During the spring and summer days, Coho offers a large patio area for fun outdoor seating. The bar area near the entrance is strikingly large and great for those who like to take advantage of happy hour.
As a starter we had the Crab & Avocado Tower ($9.25) which got mixed results from the reviewers. Consisting of dungeness crab and bay shrimp mixed with wasabi aioli, and avocado on a furikake-crusted sushi rice cake, the appetizer was a bit intimidating and towering. It would have been nice to have some eating instructions with the dish. The best way to describe it would be to call it a jumbo size piece of sushi. The seafood mix had a fair helping of crab with a strong seafood flavor, which was the best part. The guacamole had a creamy taste to it but also has some chunks of avocado. The wasabi aioli sauce added a little bit of flavor, which the dish really needed since the avocado was a little bland.
The service was good overall with no real problems, but it did seem rather automated and not too friendly. A simple smile would suffice, but we didn't even get that. While we don't mean to be too nitpicky on the service, we found it odd that the rest of the servers seemed happy and friendly, engaging with the customers and having a great time.
Seafood usually carries a big price, but Coho's price's seem markedly high even for lunch. Overall, the quality of food is decent at Coho Cafe, but the prices can get a little too steep for most people. All reviewers agree that while seafood does guarantee a higher markup, it doesn't necessarily mean that the quality is top notch.
The Wild-caught Coho ($16.95) was basted in garlic and berry juices and then grilled over applewood, garnished with a berry salsa. As a side, mashed potatoes mixed with berry juices were neatly arranged under the filet of fish. A few long florets of broccoli were slightly undercooked and while I don't mind my vegetables to be a bit al dente, this vegetable was definitely on the tough side. The mashed potatoes, termed mashers, were creamy and smooth. For this dish, the potatoes are mixed with a bit of berry juice and resulting in a slightly purple appearance and a sweeter flavor. The coho was nicely grilled and the subtle flavor of the applewood was present on the outer layers of the fish. Although it was basted in garlic and berry juices, I could not really pick up those undertones. Atop the fish was a garnish of berry salsa, which I had assumed would be a salsa made of berries, but instead it was diced tomatoes, strawberries, and a handful of blueberries. Towards the end of the meal, the sweetness of the berry juice infused potatoes and the garnish became a little overwhelming. Perhaps including berries with slightly more tart overtones could help prevent this.
The Baja Style Flour Tacos ($12.95) consisted of hand cut halibut dipped in a beer batter, fried to a crisp, and wrapped in warm flour tortillas with chipotle lime mayo, shredded cabbage, and fresh pineapple salsa. Based off the menu description, the fish taco seemed like a good choice, but unfortunately the Fried Halibut Fish Tacos were a big disappointment with its lackluster presentation and taste. The batter on the halibut was a bit too thick for my liking and was so overcooked in parts that it became hard. There was an attempt to garnished presentation, but it was more to fill out plate place for the $6 apiece tacos. The halibut tasted fresh, complimented nicely by the salsa mixed with a lime sauce, but the dish suffered from having the basics messed up. The tortilla was baked by design, but it didn't work for me and felt tough. Overall, I felt like there was poor attention to detail. Luckily for Coho Cafe, I've been here a few times before and it has usually done better, so am giving the value a 6 instead of a 5.
My Northwest Seafood Fettuccine ($15.95) was made up of pasta mixed with prawns, scallops, shrimp, halibut, oysters, and clams. A parmesan garlic cream sauce mixed with white wine and seafood stock tasted remarkably rich and savory. The fish tasted excellent, very fresh, and not one piece was under or overcooked. The sauce was very thick which ended up making it very filing. The dish also had some basil and tomatoes mixed in, but the flavor of the sauce overpowered their taste. Other seafood restaurants offer some variation of seafood fettuccine, but most of the time it ends up tasting really more like shellfish than anything else. In contrast, this one tasted more cheesy and creamy with the seafood taking more of a complementary role.
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