Friday a week ago I wanted a quiet, relaxing meal with great wine after a busy week at work, and the back room (covered patio with heaters) at À Côté is one of the few places in the East Bay that reliably delivers that (others being Chez Panisse downstairs and Rivoli). I made a reservation at 2pm for the same night. Forgot my phone so took no photos.
Porcini soup ($10, no extra charge for splitting) was great as always. It’s a much lighter dish than you’d expect from the creamy taste, I wonder what their trick is for that. Maybe pureed cremini mushrooms.
Arancini with truffled pecorino ($15 for four small ones) ditto. Kind of expensive for the small portion but on the other hand I’m happy there weren’t more of them.
Braised short ribs with celery root-potato puree and “cassoulet” (actually a lighter composed dish) with duck leg confit, Toulouse sausage, beans, and bacon ($23 each) were perfect cold-weather main courses.
Having polished off those four dishes we were too full for dessert (maybe the porcini soup’s not really that light), so got a cheese plate of Edel de Cleron ($10 with a ton of candied walnuts, toasted almonds, and pickled figs).
Had a lot of different wines by the glass from the insanely extensive list of mostly obscure grape varieties.
If I hadn’t read in Michael Bauer’s recent update review (insert usual screed about his pernicious effect on the local restaurant scene) that there had been a chef change it wouldn’t have occurred to me.