Côte

17 01 2011

Côte is a big opening in Bristol in more ways than one. First, this new restaurant on The Mall in Clifton Village is big, very big. On the site of a former petrol station, six shops could have opened here but instead, developers won permission to turn the space into a single unit.

Second, the Côte chain – specialists in “simple freshly prepared French food at value for money prices” – was founded by the team behind Strada, which they sold a few years ago to concentrate on Côte, and is backed by restaurant entrepreneur Richard Caring, who owns some of London’s most famous restaurants such as The Ivy and Le Caprice.

And third, Côte may be a chain but it has won awards for its simple bistro cooking, offering breakfast, lunch and dinner at prices that won’t break the bank, especially until January 27 with this 50 per cent off deal.

Côte arrives in Bristol having been firmly established in London and the south east for many years, with its London sites situated in some of the capital’s most exclusive locations such as Chiswick, Highgate, Kensington, Richmond and Wimbledon.

So it is fitting that Clifton was chosen as their first opening in the south west. This is a very prominent site and just up the road from what is the best restaurant in the vicinity, the Gordon Ramsay-approved Prosecco.

Prosecco need not worry about its new neighbour, however, because the two are very different beasts. Côte serves food that you would find in a Parisian bistro: starters include foie gras and seared scallops; there are light mains of mushroom crepes and tuna nicoise; main dishes of beef bourguignon, big chickens and even bigger steaks; and a mouth-watering dessert menu including their speciality creme caramel and a ludicrously-tempting iced summer berries with white chocolate sauce.

My dining companion Joanna and I decided to keep it simple and typically French. We shared a starter of moules marinieres, served in a wonderfully creamy sauce, and then both chose the steak frites. The thin rare steak came with a chunk of garlicy butter melting on top of it and a side portion of chips served in paper in a small carton.

Côte has a very smart interior, with its colourful tiled floor hopefully reclaimed from somewhere else as it is already scuffed and looking like it has had years of wear. Around the walls are maroon leather banquettes, matching the velvet curtains that form a small anteroom at the main entrance.

The Mall is on a slope leading from Princess Victoria Street to Suspension Bridge Road, and you can see what might have been the separate retail units by the stairs joining each one to the next. Like a Russian doll, they get increasingly smaller until you reach the last one, with just a couple of tables and the toilet doors.

Côte is Bristol’s first big restaurant opening of 2011 and our lunch this afternoon did not disappoint. With January typically a time for belt-tightening and a notoriously difficult month for restauranteurs, it will no doubt buck this trend and pack in the punters. And then it will be left for the smaller businesses to up their games in order to compete with this new corporate behemoth in their midst.

Côte, 27 The Mall, Clifton, Bristol. 0117 970 6779.

www.cote-restaurants.co.uk/Cote_Bristol.html


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3 responses

18 01 2011
Elisabeth

Great write-up.

We have been racking our brains for a while to think of a yet-unexplored place to eat in Bristol.

Thanks.

28 01 2011
Elisabeth

We missed the boat on this one. Stupidly, we decided not to book as this review made the place sound so big! (Not blaming you really).

Rung the same day to check and damn, only late tables were free. Obviously that 50% deal worked a treat. But not for us! Ah well…

29 03 2011
Josh

Went here last week and it was an interesting experience…

Essentially the service was perfect and the wine terrific. The food though was practically inedible, it was truly awful.

We asked the waiter whether it was the same chef as normal (having heard generally good reviews) and with a ruffle of his moustache confessed it was not. Once we showed him the ‘quality’ of the food he clearly looked personally upset and insisted that we did not pay for our meals.

It was one of those evenings when you’re grateful for the fantastic service but then once home raid the cereal cupboard.

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