À Côté - Oakland

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.

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I have to love a review where one was too full for dessert, but not full enough for a cheese plate with a ton of candied walnuts, toasted almonds, and pickled figs :wink:

I think protein seemed like less of a challenge than a bunch of fat and sugar.

The backroom is especially fun during a heavy rainstorm! Noisy, but surprisingly watertight.

Fat plus protein works for me.