Neighborhood Gems A Cote Rockridge | Tasting Table San Francisco

A bistro that plays guessing games

In October, Tasting Table asked readers for their favorite neighborhood gems. Now we're introducing the winning picks.

For the past three years, À Côté's name has been a lie.

Conceived as a casual sister to Citron–the name essentially means "next door"–À Côté has stood on its own since Citron folded in 2011.

Truth be told, the neighborhood restaurant has stood on its own since 2000 when, as executive chef Matt Colgan says, "It was a big deal that we had wooden tables, no tablecloths and a full bar."

While the waiters still explain the concept of a small-plates menu to diners, the plates are hardly tiny tapas: Three dishes is quite enough food for a party of two, especially if you're saving room for ricotta beignets ($9).

Colgan's fascination with charcuterie has grown over the years, and the centerpiece of dinner might be a ramekin of warm, herb-scented rabbit rillettes ($14) with quince jam.

Or it might be a more traditional pan-seared ling cod ($19) with beurre blanc and fried onions, a salad of chickories, persimmons and hazelnuts ($11) on the side.

The heart of À Côté

The joy of Jeff Berlin's by-the-glass wine list, rife with obscurities, is letting the waiters play guessing games: Give them a few adjectives and they'll come back with wines for you to sample, returning to the bar if they haven't read your tastes right.

Other Rockridge Neighborhood Gems: Ramen Shop, Zachary's Pizza, Oliveto, Wood Tavern