SUGAR, DARLING?

BY NANCY WHITTINGTON-COATES

CÔTE WEST BRIDGFORD REVIEW


You could be easily forgiven for not knowing about West Bridgford, a beautiful little town in Rushcliffe just outside of Nottingham; but you really should acquaint yourself soon if at all possible. To me it has the charms of a village but the luxuries of a good town filled with nice shops and a myriad of great bars and restaurants, plus it's cute to boot. I consider myself very lucky that its only a 20 minute drive from my village so I can mosey over whenever I want!

The husband and I recently spent a lovely evening there at Côte Brasserie, where we will actually be returning on Sunday to celebrate my being a year older. With three locations in the Midlands and many more across the UK it would be easy to make an assumption and write Côte off as a mediocre chain restaurant, but from my experience it is so much more. Upon entering it didn't feel corporate or one size fits all in any way, it felt welcoming and cosy and just like a local neighbourhood eatery, albeit an upmarket one. We were greeted by the manager and taken to our seats before being welcomed with a lovely glass of Kir Royale and some iced water by our waiter for the night Calumn (please tell me I remembered that right!) who was fabulous and steered me the right way a few times when I got stuck trying to decide what to try.


To begin with I went very typically for a fish starter, toying with the idea of the Prawn Gratinée but finally deciding on the Crab Mayonnaise. This was a very generous serving of luscious white crab meat in a creamy mayonnaise spiked with expertly diced minuscule chunks of red onion, cucumber and I think fennel, some not too salty little capers and finely chopped tarragon. Alongside were two nicely toasted slices of sourdough bread, the perfect thickness so as to not overwhelm the taste of the delicate crab.

My first bite was nice but not amazing, however as I continued to eat more flavours became apparent and I realised how very well done this dish was. Despite the richness of the crab and mayonnaise and the robustness of red onion, fennel and capers it was a really light and delightful dish, the perfect beginning to a meal and a wonderful accompaniment to a chilled flute of cassis splashed bubbly.


Pete decided to go for a dish that is not really that attractive but really delivers on the flavour front, French Onion Soup. On the opposite side of the scale to my starter this is a robust and hearty soup full of bold flavours and heaps of cheese! Finely sliced onions were slowly slowly cooked with a rich, hearty stock and poured over a little heap of grated Comte cheese, then topped with a big sourdough crouton and even more grated cheese that was then melted into lava under a grill. The seasoning was perfect, the cheese a creamy delight and it was nearly a meal in itself. Beware that you may need a bib with this one, it took the husband a long time to eat as he was being so careful not to drip it down his freshly pressed shirt!


After a little interlude out came our mains. Pete chose the Escalope de Veau, a flattened and breaded veal escalope sauteed in a little butter and served with a lemon wedge, rocket leaves and a delicious jus. The meat had been hammered and fried to perfection leaving it crisp yet so tender. The lemon and rocket were the perfect contrast, letting the flavour of the meat shine through and be amplified by the accompanying jus. 


As his dish wasn't served with any accompaniments we decided on two side dishes to share between us, a beautiful creamy Potato Gratin and one of the special dishes of Golden Beetroot which turned out to be an unexpected highlight of the meal. The tender chunks of beetroot were served in the style of a warm salad with a vinegary dressing of finely diced onion and lots of fresh tarragon. It really was a treat, so well balanced and cooked to root vegetable perfection.


I went for another dish from the specials board, the Rump of Lamb. Oh boy was this a good choice! A big chunk of lamb rump was cooked to medium rare perfection and served upon a bed of new potatoes and the best roasted vegetables I have ever tasted. The carrots, courgettes, butternut squash and red onion had clearly slow roasted in thyme for a generous amount of time, allowing the edges to caramelise and the inners to soften and sweeten. The delicious veal jus added the perfect seasoned bite against the sweetness and the richness of the lamb which I must say was a beautiful piece of meat, flavourful and delicate in texture.


Although we were both feeling pleasantly full at this point I can never pass up a dessert in a French restaurant and so we ordered coffees and puds. Pete plumped for the Chocolate Fondant with Vanilla Ice Cream, something I never choose myself but I always enjoy when I get to wrestle a bite. I was reliably informed that it was the best one that Pete had ever tried and upon stealing a little spoonful I have to agree that it was bang on. Decadent and delicious as a pudding should be!


My choice was a classic Tarte Fine aux Pommes, finely sliced apples layered over buttery puff pastry caramelised with a little sugar and served warm with vanilla ice cream. I adore this dessert when it's done well and I have to say this was the second best I have ever had, second only to one I tried at Balthazar. This was the ideal end to my meal, not too huge and not too rich - literally just right.


We had an absolutely lovely evening at Côte and I'm really looking forward to spending my birthday there on Sunday. I highly recommend you see if there is one near to you, it's the perfect spot for a romantic dinner or a lovely meal with family and friends and I think the prices are really reasonable for the quality of the food.

I can't wait to see what the October specials menu has in store for us, perhaps I'll give those prawns a go this time too...

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*Our meal was complimentary in exchange for my review, but all opinions expressed are 100% honest and my own.
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