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Anniversary Dinner at A Cote (report)

Cecelia | Apr 22, 2006 09:33 AM

My husband and I enjoyed our anniversary dinner at A Cote last night. I had read a variety of reviews on this board--from the enthusiastic to the apathetic. The food gods must have been smiling on us because our meal was fantastic.

They accept a small number of reservations, now, so you don't have to wait or squeeze into the communal table if the mood doesn't suit you. Our reservation was at 6:00 and the place was already hopping when we arrived. We were immediately seated at a table fronting on College Avenue. I love to people watch and this was prime people watching opportunity! We ordered cocktails--the El Pepino for me and a martini for Steph. The El Pepino is a refreshing concoction of gin, muddled cucumber, and lime served straight up.

We noticed that almost every other table ordered the pommes frites with aioli. They looked great, nicely brown and crispy, but the serving was huge and Steph and I knew we would indulge in every last fry, so we abstained. Instead we asked for the choped hearts of romaine salad served with asparagus, sieved egg and a garlic dressing (8.00), marinated olives (5.00), wild nettle gnocchi (12.00) and the grilled lamb skewers(14.00).

The salad was a hit. Its asparagus were crisp with the bottoms slightly shaved. The dressing was garlicky but not overwhelmingly so. My only complaint, and it would be one that was repeated throughout the evening, was that we were not served bread with the meal and couldn't use the pieces to sop up the last drop of the dressing/broths, etc. That's what a surreptitious finger is for, I guess.

The marinated olives were uninspiring. However, the gnocchi, homemade packets served with peas and a savory pea broth, were delish. Again, no bread was a pain because I wanted that very last drop. The grilled lamb scewers were nicely seared and came with something called fregola sarda--I likened these beans(?) to cous cous on steroids. They added a nuttiness to the dish that pulled it together.

Rather than dessert, Steph and I ordered two cheeses (7.00/cheese). We opted for the Jean-Grogne (triple cream cow) and the Petit Agour (basque sheep milk) which were served with candied walnuts, toasted almonds, apple and stewed figs. AND BREAD! Very good.

Before we arrived I worried that our service would be erratic as I had read this complaint a number of times on this board and elsewhere. Those food (and service) gods were definently smiling on us because, while our dishes came out nicely paced, almost every other table around us seemed to wait and wait and wait and then receive a plethora of dishes all at once. One table got their mushroom pizza, a bowl of mussels and what appeared to be a salmon fillet at almost the same time. We were lucky and our meal (95.00 without tip and no wine but three cocktails)--including service--was a winner.


A Cote Restaurant
5478 College Ave.
Oakland, CA

Link: http://www.acoterestaurant.com/

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