Restaurant Guide 2013: Cocotte

2930 NE Killingsworth St., 227-2669,

[FRENCH IN NAME] As Francolicious as its name sounds, Cocotte is a bistro far more Pacific Northwest than Parisian. That's OK. Irrespective of the tradition that informs them, dishes that come from their kitchen are very much driven by the fundamental bistro philosophies: Use the best ingredients you can, don't get fussy with the preparation and leave a smile on diners' faces. This doesn't mean the chefs don't get playful. A cold melon soup ($9) as a starter is a distillation of summer in a bowl, the heirloom melon's sweetness held in check by the surprising pop of saltiness from Spanish trout roe. Pork rillettes ($7), while unctuously delicious in isolation, are sublime when layered on toast points with rhubarb chutney and stone fruits. A menu that prides itself on local sourcing would have to include Oregon albacore tuna ($24) when in season. Cocotte's version, adorned with a tomato-butter reduction, does the native proud with a lovely exercise in contrasts: the exterior edges are a toothsome medium-well, while the center is practically raw and butter-soft. Cocotte's devotion to seasonal and local food tends to make recommendations difficult over time, since there's an excellent chance the menu you see in front of you will be completely different from one encountered a month earlier. As long as you are open to discovering some pleasant surprises on your own, that can only be seen as a net positive.

Ideal meal: A Vieux Carré cocktail, chilled melon soup and whatever fish entree is available that day.

Best deal: If available, the creamy risotto ($16) is easily sharable.

Pro tip: If it's available for dessert, get the sour cream cake ($7). Irrespective of how it's sauced, it makes everything better.

5 pm-close Monday-Sunday. $$-$$$.


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