Tuesday, September 04, 2007

A Cote

5478 College Ave (& Taft)
(510) 655-6469

Californian/Mediterranean small plates in Oakland

Technically it's Oakland, but I still think of the Rockridge area as part of Berkeley. Regardless, this is an incredible restaurant. I don't know anyone who's dined here and left unsatisfied. Maybe I'm feeling generous, and have just been on reliving-Berkeley-glory-days overload, but I just couldn't think of anything bad enough about A Cote to give it less than 5 stars. The one thing is the hostess. She's kind of spacey - on a recent visit here, my friend and I walked in without a reservation, and after waiting a good 20 minutes, the hostess asked us if we were quiet people, or planning to cause a ruckus. I don't see the relevance in that at all, because the table she took us to was in the back in their outdoor patio area, surrounded by other tables talking loudly... whatever.

Even on a Monday night there was a crowded wait, so it would probably be good to make reservations for a more popular day of the week. The staff is great - our waitress was totally chill and friendly. They have a fairly extensive drink list (separate menus for Belgian ales and rose flights), and we decided to try some Belgian ales on tap. I don't remember what they were called, but one was blonde but pretty thick (Mike really liked that one), and the other was darker and Guinness-like, which I liked, except for the slightly metallic aftertaste. I can't imagine what the $20 bottled beer tastes like.

So this place is small plates style, and the website claims it's Mediterranean cuisine... yet it's just so Californian that I don't really see a strong Med influence. Regardless, the food is amazing.
- "tango salad" w/ hazelnuts, ricotta shavings, pluots (plum-apricot hybrid): the ricotta was sparse but salty enough to contrast the sweetness of the fruit (seasonal is always the best)
- mushroom+leek tart: basically a quiche, this was amazing. I LOVE quiche, and this was not too eggy or cheesy = perfect
- pancetta-wrapped quail w/ porcini bread pudding: the quail was ok (moist, tasted like quail...), but the bread pudding was laden with mushroom and buttery goodness. I had never really had a savory bread pudding before, but I like!
- grilled pork chop w/corn, fava beans, and this cherry sauce: juicy (Mike was in love). Alice would've liked the corn.

We were going to do a cheese course, but by this time, we were both incredibly full. However, being the dessert snob I am, I had to at least try one. I recently took a pastry class on seasonal fruit desserts, and it was coincidental that we went over clafoutis and noyau, which were both on the menu. I'm whatever about clafoutis because it's so easy to make, but noyau gelato? How often do you see that? So we got a "warm peach pie" that had that as an accompaniment, and it definitely hit the spot. The gelato was definitely spot-on for the flavor - basically tastes like almond extract (different from almonds themselves). Simple, but good stuff.

*** Edit: I went here again over the weekend for my sister's birthday, and as a party of 6, we sampled practically the entire menu! Since this restaurant changes its menu seasonally (if not more often), the only familiar item was the fries (pommes frites) which my dad really enjoyed. Since we tried so many different things, I'll just highlight the good ones.

- duck sausage (Karen's fave)
- gazpacho verde (Lucy's fave)
- fig (both green and black mission varieties) & pancetta flatbread
- chanterelles with fingerling potatoes, leeks, and truffle oil * (my fave)
- pink apple galette with mascarpone filling: a tad dry (needed more sauce), but we all liked it
- mussells (dad's fave)

* Mike began his bitterness towards truffle oil after reading this times article on what it's actually made out of. I still like it! =P


Mike said...

ha, yes, that was the very first time i fell in love with a pork chop...

Kevin said...

I have to add Tim's advice of ordering a plate of fries to fill yourself up. That way you don't go broke getting all the other tasty stuff.

But yes, I love A Cote too. This place is awesome.