Cassoulet, Duck Breast, Moelleux Chocolat
Occupation: Marketing Consultant
Location: San Francisco
Favorite Restaurant: Côté Sud
Reviewed Côté Sud: Friday February 15, 2008
We arrived before the rush, so it was still relatively quiet. By the time we left around 9pm, there was a line and it was very lively. The interior is very simply decorated, and the tables are close together for an intimate dining experience. There always seems to be a large (6 or more) party there, and tonight was no exception.
We always order the chef’s tasting menu if it is available because we enjoy placing ourselves in the hands of the chef and sommelier.
While I prefer seared fois gras, this terrine was very creamy. The brioche could have been toasted a little more to give it more crispiness that would offset the buttery texture of the terrine. The dense reduced balsamic vinegar was a nice contrast to the richness of the dish.
My husband had the onion soup gratinée. The broth was very light in body but had enough of the onion flavor to carry the dish. It was piping hot.
The oysters were fresh and medium-sized (my favorite). The mignonette was a little too acidic so we went light on that.
The striped sea bass was very tender and moist. The sauce, which comes from the Basque region, was unexpected. But it provided a nice accompaniment to the fish.
Finally, the meat dish was beautifully composed with just a few thin slices of perfectly cooked duck breast with a small mound of microgreens.
Despite having all these dishes, I was not stuffed. The dishes were proportioned properly and the first two were very light.
My husband’s main dish was the cassoulet, my personal favorite dish here. The small white beans are so creamy and have had time to soak up the flavors of the lamb, sausage, and duck confit. The dish is served in an iron pot and dished out tableside.
Dessert was a puff pastry with a pistachio cream filling. It was quite good, but I might have preferred a slightly more pronounced pistachio flavor.
Overall, service was attentive despite it getting crowed and busy. The thumping sound of Castro-street-type disco music gave the restaurant a party atmosphere. Parking in the neighborhood can be tricky, but there are plenty of public transportation options—a good idea when you’re pairing wine with five courses!
Occupation: Software Sales Manager
Favorite Restaurant: Casa Orinda
Reviewed Côté Sud: Saturday February 16, 2008
Côté Sud is not for the faint of heart! If you can’t stand being late, are afraid of heights and claustrophobic, this might not be your best dining experience. If you love great tasting food though, try to overcome these challenges and give Côté Sud a chance.
Côté Sud is located in the hart of the Castro district, making it hard to visit if you’re not within walking distance. Parking is a nightmare and you should expect to drive around for at least an hour on Saturday to find a spot within walking distance. Once you arrive at the restaurant, be prepared to climb steep, high stairs to enter the restaurant. Inside, suppress your feeling of claustrophobia and try to relax at your tightly spaced table.
Once seated, we actually started to enjoy the atmosphere and loved the vibrant buzz in this restaurant. This is a great place for enjoying a nice dining night out with friends. The waitstaff, most of whom are truly French, is there to serve your every need, but is also all business. No time for making friends here.
As we were waiting for some friends to join us (they were trying to find a parking spot), we requested a meat appetizer plate, something very common in France. The waiter told us that they had stopped serving this, but offered us some foie gras as an appetizer. A great gesture, as the foie gras terrine was excellent!
The rest of meal was, just like the appetizer, very, very good. We enjoyed the escargot ravioli, the flank steak, the duck confit, and other traditional French dishes. Although the portions served were un-American (just enough to satisfy you taste buds) our table felt satisfied after diner.
Côté Sud has some challenges with regards to their “environment” (parking, crowded space, etc.) but serves some great dishes! If you are in the neighborhood, Côté Sud is certainly worth a visit! But would I drive out there on a Saturday night to dine? Probably not.
Occupation: Pediatric Physician Assistant
Location: San Francisco
Favorite Restaurant: Nick’s Crispy Tacos
Reviewed Côté Sud: Saturday February 16, 2008
Last Saturday I dined at Côté Sud, a trendy French restaurant in the Castro district of San Francisco. Climbing one flight of stairs, I opened the door to a cheerful, bustling little bistro. The walls were lemon yellow, and the sloped wood ceiling was a rich burgundy color. Enclaves at the back of the restaurant were colored in a sky blue. I sat at the bar while I awaited my party’s arrival. The bar itself was made of marble, lit from beneath. This made for a very beautiful bar top. Once my dining companions arrived, we were shown to our table, which was located on an enclosed porch overlooking the street below. I usually find enclosed porches somewhat drafty, however, this porch was as toasty as the main room of the restaurant. In addition, a clear advantage of porch seating was that the noise level was much less.
Since it was Saturday night, the restaurant was quite busy. Our server, a delightful young man with a soft French accent, still managed to greet us within minutes of our seating. Later in the meal, he shared with us that he was from France originally, however, he’d never leave San Francisco. None of us could blame him.
We selected a bottle of Chateau La Fleur Biban, a modestly priced Bordeaux. I found the wine to be outstanding and paired nicely with the food. Pieces of épi baguette were delivered to our bread plates from a large basket. The bread was perfectly crusty with a soft center. For my appetizer I ordered the clafoutis de tomates cerises (small bacon and tomato quiches) accompanied by a lightly dressed side of greens. The quiches were superbly packed with flavor. Two of my dining companions ordered the French onion soup. I would recommend the quiche to all, but reserve the French onion soup for die-hard French onion soup fans only.
The entrees arrived in a timely fashion. I decided to go with the famous Cassoulet Special, and I was not disappointed. Typically, the cassoulet is served tableside, however, due to the business of the evening the server opted to serve it in the kitchen and bring the warm dish out to me. This was perfectly acceptable. The cassoulet was a rich stew of white beans, sausage, and duck. My dining companions all enjoyed bites of this dish. I sampled bites of the steak, which while satisfactory, did not hold a candle to my cassoulet.
Since my table had all opted for the prix fixe menu, we decided to partake in dessert. However, I was quite full from the large portions of the cassoulet. We split four different desserts: Gateau Basque, Paris-Brest, Moelleux Chocolat and crème brulée. The crème brulée was a delicate cream topped with a perfectly crusted sugar top. My dining companions and myself found this dessert to be our favorite.
I found Côté Sud to be a pleasant experience. The ambiance was especially charming and the food was a delight. I may return to Côté Sud, especially if I had a dining companion fond of Provençal food.