A Cote Restaurant, Rockridge

It’s been a few years since I last frequented A Cote, not because of a bad experience.  There was a time when A Cote was “thee” place to be.  Mojito’s were the hot new drink, you would be lucky to grab a seat at the bar while you waited for a table, and you wouldn’t mind sitting in the communal table.  Tapas or small plates were a fresh new concept when they opened in 2001. And so was the gourmet french fry.  With restaurants coming and going, A Cote has done an excellent job in holding up.

I was celebrating a friend’s birthday and she likes to eat a variety of foods, so we decided to take her to A Cote, a restaurant where we could order a lot of different items.  She had never been.  A Cote serves up Mediterranean cuisine with an emphasis on French, Italian, and Spanish dishes.

A Cote has an excellent full service bar and makes some unique specialty cocktails.  I ordered the Aperol Spritz which was a refreshing bubbly beverage flavored with grapefruit.

The appetizers we ordered were the shrimp bisque, the mussels, and the pommes frites.

The shrimp bisque was delicious!  It was very similar to lobster bisque.  It had tremendous flavor and was very creamy.  The soup was topped with a piece of toast and fresh shrimp.  We let the birthday girl lick the plate clean.  The mussels and fries came out next.  I clearly remembered how good the french fries were.  I didn’t remember how good the mussels were, which is cooked in their wood oven.  The mussels were fresh and cooked to a good consistency.  The sauce was slightly thickened and creamy and together the flavors of the mussels and the sauce were well balanced.  Most mussels are cooked in white wine, but A Cote’s was cooked in Pernod, which is a liquor flavored with anise.  It’s no wonder that this is one of their popular dishes that remain on their menu.

For entrees, we ordered the Pork Tenderloin Milanesa and the Italian Sausage Flatbread.  The pork was thinly sliced and was breaded and fried.  It was crispy, flavorful, and very tasty.  It came with sautéed cabbage, apple, and bacon that was also very good.  I skipped the mustard-caper sauce only because I hate mustard.

The Italian Sausage Flatbread came with asiago, nicoise olives, shaved fennel, and red onion.  The sausage was excellent and the crust was different from most flatbreads.  It reminded me of really good flakey breadsticks.  I enjoyed this pizza except for the nicoise olives.  The olives were chopped up to tiny pieces and distributed around the pizza lightly, but it was still overpowering where I would get a sour bite every now and then.  My friend thought the olives helped to balance the pizza, but I could have lived without it. 

We ordered two desserts – Warm Rhubarb-Brown Butter Croustade and the Strawberry “Panzanella”.  The croustade had a fairly thick buttery pie crust with what I thought was fruit inside of it.  As I write this blog, I wonder if it was not fruit but rhubarb inside the crust.  On the other hand, I thought rhubarb is red.  Hmmmm…. What I do know is that it was topped with ice cream and crunchy little bits of goodness.

I am saving the best for last, because the Strawberry Panzanella was to die for.  The plate came out looking like a beautiful salad.  It had sweetened strawberries, candied brioche that looked that croutons, and it was topped with a creamy and delicious olive oil custard.  This is actually new on the dessert menu and deserving enough for the restaurant to tweet about.  We let the birthday girl lick this plate too!

I’ve missed A Cote these years, but I’m glad that I have come back.  It’s a much calmer experience than in the early days.

P.S.  We had awesome service.  Our waitress was very knowledgeable about the foods and drinks, she came to the table to check on us just enough, she gave us new plates when ours got messy, and she would even fold your napkin if you left the table.