Kids, No Chaser

Ahhh Cote

Thursday, August 24, 2006 posted by Henri

"Would anyone like something from the bar?" Ahh now that's a great question. Maybe too great of a question. So you know what happens when four couples go to a restaurant? Hmm wait before you answer that...lets make it four married couples. Four married couples that love food. Oh and add the fact that they have kids. All the same age. And did I mention we're talking about my buddies Afghanistan, Su, Faye Dunaway and their better halves? Oh and the last piece of the puzzle...All the kids stayed home. Oh oh oh and I forgot, the restaurant is A Cote that charming friendly neighborhood bar/small plate joint in Oakland. All hell is unleashed.

There's that scene in OLDBOY, that great Korean movie...oh wait don't get me started on Korean movies. There's a term I learned in some sociology or cultural history class where they were specifically talking about Korean culture and this underlying draw towards pathos I forget the word now but it rang so true. I'll just call it hurts-so-gooditood. And it borders on ridiculous. Have you ever seen a Korean movie? I'll tell you the ending right now. Tragic. Horribly gut-wrenchingly achingly tragic...If it's any good that is. Like the movie Beat. Not Beat Street...Not Breakin 2: Electric Bugaloo...Just plain Beat. Beat is about a kid who has it rough and is trying to make it in a tough world and all he really does well is fight and eat ramen. And then at the end of the movie he's found some peace and the possibility of love and the movie can go two ways.

1) Happy
2) Horribly wrong

secret answer: 2. You see he has to chose between happiness or standing up to help a male friend. Usually in every Korean movie the helping the male friend always always wins. And then you know what happens next. He's dead. They're always dead. ***spoiler ahead*** He's dead. ***end of spoiler***And alone. And his love is trying to page him but he's dying or dead. And the aching part about it is that moment when he had a choice and the possibility of happiness. That chance. But then of course its gone and he's dead. And if it's your first Korean movie experience you saying What the Fu--? Even when you knew it was coming due to the simple fact that you are watching a movie with characters speaking in Korean. In fact the Korean pathos is so strong not all of the characters have to be Korean. Let me ask you a question. Do you know of a little TV show called Lost? Do you want to know how it will end? I know. Every Korean person knows how its gonna end. Horribly tragically achingly sad. Its because there are Korean characters in the show and they do not subtitle what the hell they are saying. Have you ever wondered about that? Do you know why they don't subtitle what the Korean people on Lost are saying? It must be a Korean show. I mean the first time they spoke Korean and I saw that there were English subtitles missing I thought...Oh no this is a Korean show pretending to be an American Drama. Hmmm tragic ending. That's how powerful the Korean pathos is. You let a few Korean sentences go by untranslated and that's it. Ship sunk.
Ok ok
Olboy. Right. In OLBOY this dude is kidnapped and stashed in a locked hotel room. No idea why or who his captor is. He's fed through a hole in the door and every now and then the room is filled with knockout gas. And he's kept there for years. Yes, freaking years and years. And each time he tries to kill himself they fill the room with knockout gas and give him medical attention so he won't die and wake him up back in the room. So for years he's trapped with no idea why and he works out and fights the walls and teaches himself kungfu or something like that....anyways. One day, knockout gas comes in but when he wakes up he's out. On some grass in a suitcase with a cell phone and some money. His captors let him go and he still has no idea why. But he's been trapped for like 10+ years? And he's not a nice guy to begin with so after 10+ years of pent up I-want-to-kill-somebodyism coursing through his body you know he's gonna eventually hurt somebody. And when he does, it involves a hammer. So what does this have to do with A Cote that charming restaurant in Oakland? Me, Afghanistan, Su and Faye Dunaway and our wives don't always get to go out. So it gets kind of pent up. And like that dude with the hammer...

Let's just say we all savored the moment. And now begins my review of A Cote.


So our server had to be sent away 4 times while we studied the wine and spirits list, oh and the menu too. I guess we did look at the menu a little bit. A Cote has a cool wine list, compact yet a rambunctious variety...enough about wine here's the good stuff.

BRUICHLADDICH, 15 yr Islay 18.
BRUICHLADDICH, 1989 13 yr Islay 22.
BALVIENIE, Founders Reserve 10 yr 8.
CRAGGANMORE, 12 yr Speyside 8.
DALMORE, 12 yr Highland 8.
GLENFARCLAS, 105 Highland 12.
GLENFARCLAS, 25 yr, Highland 25.
GLENMORANGIE, 18 yr Highland 16.
HIGHLAND PARK, 12 yr Orkney Island 8.
LAPHROAIG 10 yr Islay 8.
LAGAVULIN, 16 yr Islay 10.
MACALLAN, 18 yr Speyside 24. -------I picked this one. Now you pick.
SCAPA, 12 yr Orkney Islands 8.
STRATHISLA, 12 yr Highland 10.
TAMDU, Speyside 8.
TOBERMORY 10 yr Isle of Mull 7.


A.H. HIRSCH, 16 yr Kentucky 15.
ANCHOR DISTILLING, Old Potrero Rye, San Francisco 9.
BAKER'S, 7 yr Kentucky 8.
BLANTON'S, Single Barrel Whiskey, Kentucky 10.
BOOKER'S, 7 yr Straight Bourbon 8.
JEFFERSON'S RESERVE, 15 yr Kentucky 10.
MICHTER'S 10 yr Single Barrel Bourbon, Kentucky 12.
MICHTER'S 10 yr Single Barrel Rye, Kentucky 7.
PAPPY VAN WINKLE'S 12 yr Reserve, Kentucky 8.
SAZARAC 18 yr Rye , 9.
BALLANTINE'S, 12 yr Blended Scotch Whisky 6.
JOHNNY WALKER Green Label 15 yr, Blended Scotch 12.
MIDLETON'S, "Very Rare" Irish Whiskey 25.
REDBREAST, 12 yr 'Pure Pot Still' Whiskey, Ireland 10.

Redbreast is a house favorite although the ultimate value of all time remains Tullamore Dew if we're going Irish. Oh and to my companions who graciously picked up my bar tab...Ha Ha. No actually thank you. Thank you for not knowing what I drank...until now. If you've ever been to A Cote you know that wine selection is tricky due to the variety of the menu. In all seriousness they do have a flexible and varied wine list. I vaguely remember having this: PINOT NOIR, Alois Lageder, " Krafuss, " Alto Adige, Italy 2001. Which was a pleasant surprise with slightly muted spice notes compard with the more fruit forward local varietals. Oh crap maybe it was this: PINOT NOIR, Domaine de la Poulette Côtes de Nuits-Villages, Burgundy, France 2002. In which case I remember it being almost ashamed of its nature preferring a meekness posing as terroir. Now the Macallan 18 is a fine fine scotch. I won't buy it for home so that I can always have a little spark when eating out. Just like the song "Oh Girl" by the Chi-Lites. Which I have purposely never owned in order to always stop what I'm doing and enjoy myself for a moment when it pops up randomly in my life. Which is usually in the form of super-market muzak unfortunately. Ahh the food. Here's what we finally picked(sorry nice server).

POMMES FRITES with Aioli 4. / 6.
Always good when hot. Ours were OK that night. Well we were eating outside so that cools things off a bit. Fought with my Scotch too much.

STUFFED SQUASH BLOSSOMS with Ricotta and Pesto 9.
Batter overpowers the blossoms. But gooey and delicious nonetheless.

MOROCCAN CHICKEN IN PHYLLO with Mint Yogurt and Carrot Salad 9.
I think Su ate mine

CROQUE MONSIEUR French Ham and Gruyere 8.
How can you mess up Croque Monsieur? Answer: You can't.

GNOCCHI AL PESTO with Cherry Tomatoes and Haricot Vert 12.
Hmmm that Haricot Vert tasted familiar.

SEARED DUCK BREAST with Spaghetti Squash, Cipollini Onions and Zante Grape-Currant Gastrique 15.
Came wayyy too late with our Hanger steak. Nice sear, pleasantly rare. Squash is a strange bedfellow.

SEARED SCALLOPS with Nantes Carrot Risotto and Sorrel Sauce 14.
I think Su ate my scallop. Oh no wait I do remember having one. Buttery soft.

GRILLED HANGER STEAK with Cranberry Beans, Savoy Spinach and Anchovy Butter 13. Wayyy too late. Anchovy butter is good. Must make some sometime. Steak was fine.

PAELLA with Prawns, Clams and Chorizo 14.
A little spicy which overcompliments the chorizo spices. Or maybe it was the chorizo fighting itself. Delicious nonetheless.

ROASTED PEPPER AND ONION FLATBREAD with Golden Jubilee Sauce and Tavoliere Cheese 12. Pizza is like Croque Monsier. Even when its bad its good.

A Cote is a favorite neighborhood restaurant. It's got a great atmosphere, tidy bar. Lovely back patio and solid food. It compliments a group of friends getting together better than most places as long as you are the LOUDEST group there. Lovely variety in both menu and wine list. Oh crap I forgot dessert.

Bittersweet Chocolate Pudding, Milk Chocolate Cream and a Warm Baby Fondant Cake

Triple Chocolate Ice Cream, Hot Fudge, Caramel Cream, Pecan Praline and Caramel Brownie

BLANDYS, Verdelho Madeira, 5 yr

Good good and good.

A Cote is stable and reliable and fun. The more people in the group the better. A pack of rabid parents sans kids is even more fun. Here's the only food picture I got before I realized the Macallan had arrived.


Pomme Frites-------

Happy Birthday NancyDunaway!



Blogger lf said...

man... old boy was one disturbing movie. a good one. but disturbing nonetheless.

11:42 AM

Blogger themikestand said...

Good choice with the Macallan. I might have gone for the Laphroiag, but only 'cuz I'm curious that way. The Cragganmore or the Balvenie Founders Reserve would be solid.

(I'm really not this pretentious...just a scotch drinker.)

11:59 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

what a coincidence, we just watched oldboy a few nights ago! i was doing fine until the scene w/ the purple album...all i can say is there are some sick & twisted, albeit brilliant, minds out there!

this post reminded me of a blog i think you might enjoy:
(it's written by a K girl in LA)

2:23 PM

Blogger Henri said...

Are you calling my Blog derivitive?! A food blog from LA in an oxymoron...and I grew up, love and will die in LA...but I know the truth. LA food sucks. SF food number 1. My blog has whisky and scotch and rootbeer damnit.

All kidding aside, I miss LA so bad I can taste it. My list of potential last meals is dominated by LA places. I am a reader of TDL and it makes me miss LA even more...its that pathos thing again. Man I need a drink. Here's to my first love, la ciudad de nosostros senora la reyna de los angeles. Oh and somebody give that girl's blog my blogs number. Ouch my wife is hurting me right now. You stop that. Time out. Time out. All done. Tiger woods.

3:46 PM


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