This Valentine’s Day, after weeks of struggle to find the right restaurant, we finally managed to decide on one of the Côte chain’s restaurants – the one near Oxford Circus, Marketplace. I have always seen their stripy design from the outside, but I never actually took a closer look; I was quite curious to see what they have to offer.
Officially, these brasseries are marketed as little bistros that rely mostly on the Parisian atmosphere with traditional French food. Apart from the food, I kind of agree with that. The service was excellent – we even got a free glass of Champagne after our waiter forgot to put one of our starter orders through; the design is very nice, and the music deserves a separate mention because it was excellent.
Now the food… well, my starter was really delicious: we chose the crab mayonnaise with avocado, served with toasted bread, which was really quite nice, and the prawn gratinée.
As for presentation, it has to be mentioned that they did not go over the top (if they were going for traditional French, they definitely failed on this section). There was nothing wrong with the taste of the food though – except for the fact that there was nothing interesting about it either. The dishes were nice, but too mild for my taste.
For seconds, we chose a fish Parmentier – which essentially came as a fish pie. Now that was disappointing – the potatoes were delicious, cheesy and creamy, but the cabbage on the bottom was just a no for me. The presentation itself was nice, but it was once again definitely not French.
As for me, I exploited the occasion of dining out and ordered the steak with creamed spinach on the side. The quality of the meat wasn’t top, but it was perfect to satisfy one’s appetite; the spinach simply lacked seasoning in my opinion. To repeat myself, the design didn’t receive much attention.
Despite the previous two courses, the desserts were stunning: a chocolate molten cake with perfectly gooey insides and a chocolate mousse that coated the spoon like cream. These two dishes and the good service definitely made up for anything that was missing before.
All in all, I would recommend the chain – the food selection is quite wide, the prices are reasonable, and the service charge is optional. Not the best food, but it could easily get four stars from me. Not to mention that a bottle of wine makes everything better…