the organic coup in soma....a chicken three ways
Whenever you decide to open a new restaurant in San Francisco, you gotta have a thing that makes you stand out from all the other places trying to get a foothold in this market. In old school show tune speak--"ya' gotta have a gimmick!" This seems to be particularly true in the new fast casual world where you want to get the attention of lunch time office workers you seem to have an array of choices, especially downtown. See Tava, Proper Food, Eatsa, etc.
Into this ongoing fray (which truly, is good for all of us in getting more choices) comes The Organic Coup. Billing itself as the nation's first USDA certified organic fast food restaurant, it was started by a couple former execs from Costco. The push the whole no GMOs, no pesticides, no added hormones or chemicals or anything else that might make a chicken glow in the dark.
Their other "thing" is they only do chicken. To be exact, battered and deep fried chicken breast and nothing else. And you can have it in one of three ways: on a sandwich roll, in a wrap or as a salad. Plus, it will run you $9.99 no matter which one you get. Each is basically chicken and cole slaw. Though, point of note, you do get a choice of sauce to go on whichever you choose: ranch, sesame ginger, mustard vin, spicy bbq. It is truly what you'd call a very limited and focused menu. Well, it does make it easy to choose. I figured I'd just eschew the carbs today and get the salad version called "the coup bowl", which is chicken on top of slaw, and asked for the spicy bbq sauce on the side.
I think you can probably see the problem right off the bat. I asked for the sauce on the side but they drenched it anyway. I was there on a late afternoon so it wasn't like it was busy. I was one of 3 folks, yet they didn't get my order right. Not an auspicious beginning. My chicken was cooked to order and part of wanting the sauce on the side was to keep the crispy crust on the deep fried breast. Putting the sauce on the fresh out of the fryer chicken led to a bit of soft crust. It was too bad, the few bits not covered were nice and crisp and the buttermilk batter and spices cooked in coconut oil did give it an interesting flavor crunch. Probably would have liked more of it.
The chicken was tender and juicy, so no dry stringy stuff here which was nice. The sauce was kind of like bbq sauce mixed with ranch. Had a little kick, but not like blow your socks off spicy or anything. I will say the bowl does give you your daily dose of veggies. It's a slaw of two kinds of cabbage, carrots, green peppers, red onion and I'm pretty sure there were a few jalapeno strips in there. The mix was very lightly dressed with some vinegar. This is where you definitely will get some fresh crunch for sure. For the most part, I liked the mix and the sauce I got did go well with it.
When it comes down to it, I liked it enough and it was fine. But in essence you are getting a deep fried chicken breast on some shredded cabbage for $10. And that's only if you get the bowl. With the sandwich or wrap, it will seem like you are getting a little less at the same price. Seems like a lot and kind of surprising coming from a couple Costco folks. Cause you know, you can get an x-large pizza there for pretty much the same price. And yes, this does all fall into my consternation with this town and the preponderance of $10 sandwiches with no sides. It's great to be all organic and what not, but cost just reinforces peoples perceptions it's only for those who can afford it. Also doesn't help they are just across the way from Eatsa, where you can get a nice big, filling bowl of stuff for $6.
The Organic Coup people say they want to overthrow the current fast food way and scale up to compete with places like Chipotle and In-And-Out. I guess it is good to have dreams, though with an extremely limited menu and pricing higher than both those chains, they may find the road rough going. Not to mention there are a couple other places working the whole chicken sandwich angle, you know, like KFC and Chik-Fil-A. But who knows, maybe they will make it work somehow. For me, I won't be crossing the road for this chicken again.