Quietly tucked away, moments from High Street Kensington, this excellent French eaterie serves simple, well-priced food.
This French restaurant provides everything you would expect from a bistro – an outdoor seating area with stripy awning, friendly service and an easy atmosphere. Inside, the interior is lovely and cosy, with warm lighting, candle-topped tables and dark tones. It's a deceptively large restaurant but due to the long layout and different set-up of tables, you can easily have an intimate dinner without practically sitting on top of other diners – which is somewhere where many other restaurants fail. The restaurant feels quite special without being very expensive – a perfect recession-friendly venue.
Staff are efficient and friendly and will give you an honest opinion when it comes to choosing from the menu. They seem to have perfected the balance of being attentive without being overbearing. Cote has a nice atmosphere, totally unpretentious and friendly, and the venue is filled with the sound of happy conversation and music – which isn't played too loud.
The philosophy behind Cote is to create 'simple freshly made French food, at value for money prices' and they manage to fulfil this successfully. For starters there is a good choice of dishes, ranging from £4.35 to £7.80. The mussels make an excellent light starter and can also be ordered as a main – they are served in a creamy, white wine sauce which is well-seasoned and cooked with shallots and garlic to give the dish depth of flavour. The mussels are super fresh and succulent and taste like the sea, which is exactly how they should be. A lighter option is the asparagus with hollandaise sauce, a simple dish which is outstanding and bursting with flavour, with well-cooked stems of asparagus with a creamy sauce which boast a nice gentle egg and butter flavour. Portion sizes are perfect.
There's a good selection of light mains and fish and meat dishes, with prices from £8.75. The ratatouille dish is perfectly sized and delicious – flavoursome, well-seasoned vegetables in a subtle tomato sauce, topped with salty goat’s cheese and encased in a light flaky pastry with a hint of butter. The tomato, shallot and basil salad makes an excellent accompaniment, with its juicy tomatoes and fragrant basil and onion flavours adding focus to the dish. The pan roasted duck is a surprising dish. The seared meat is both succulent and tender and simply melts in the mouth. The meat is served with a cherry sauce that is rich and sweet but without being overbearing and a creamy gratin which isn't too heavy and has a nice cheese flavour that isn't too strong. The creamed side of spinach makes a good choice too and complements the dish perfectly.
If you don't have a sweet tooth then opt for the cheese and bread for dessert, which comes with two French cheeses, Roquefort and reblochon as well as grapes. The creme brulee is light and creamy with a hint of vanilla, topped with a crunchy sugar top. Desserts start at £3.95.
There's a good range of wines, beers and cocktails available at Cote. The Kir Royale makes a great aperitif with light bubbles and a fruity twist. Wines start from just £13.95 a bottle and the rose makes an excellent summer choice – try the Cuvee Laborie Rose 2008 which is priced at £15.95 a bottle or £4.25 a glass – it has a delicate fruity flavour with a hint of berries.
The Last Word
Cote proves that you don't need bags of ingredients to make a flavoursome dish. The menu has something for everyone and the best thing is that it won't break the bank.