French fancy

Dining review: Cote Brasserie, Newcastle

Inspired by the brasseries of Paris, this quality chain serves up authentic French classics – so it’s great to welcome a new Cote Brasserie to Newcastle city centre.

Amid a plethora of Italian pizzeria chain restaurants (decent though some of them are) it’s good to add some French flavours to the mix.

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We’ve been to the Wimbledon branch before, and new Cote bistros and brasseries are popping up in cities up and down the country.

It enjoys a central location in Newcastle, being housed in the former Barclays Bank on the corner of Grainger Street and Market Street.

Good quality, reasonably-priced classic French dishes are the order of the day. The menu features everything from steak frites (thinly beaten-out minute steak with frites, garlic butter and green salad, £11.50), moules frites and Breton fish stew to spinach and mushroom crepes.

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And as for starters, the fougasse, £5.25, giant leaf-shaped garlic bread topped with parsley and sea salt, is a must for nibbles with a glass of Kir Royale, £4.95.

We popped in one Saturday lunchtime and took a cosy booth near the door, where large picture windows flooded our table with November sunshine. It’s a sprawling restaurant with tables set over two floors, high ceilings, focal point bar, patterned tiled floor (which my daughter loved) and marble tables, with thick linen napkins and solid cutlery.

We took our time deliberating over starters. Would it be French black pudding, French onion soup, smoked salmon or steak tartare…

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My choice of crab mayonnaise, £8.50, was like a main course serving. I piled the fresh sweet crab – peppered with diced cucumber, red onion, avocado, capers and tarragon, on top of slices of toasted sourdough. Super fresh and tasty, there was a plentiful amount of this fishy starter.

My daughter opted for prawn gratinee, £7.95 – the king prawns in white wine, garlic, chilli and tomato sauce were deemed delicious. And the topping of toasty morsels of garlic and parsley croutons added texture and crunch.

We found the staff very attentive – everyone we came into contact with was welcoming, helpful and smiley. Staff seemed well trained – and it’s good to feel the love!

The restaurant has only been open two weeks and is proving hugely popular already. There’s also a small outside pavement area where shoppers were enjoying coffees and hot chocolates.

For mains, there was a choice of November specials, including bean stew with confit duck wing and Toulouse sausage, and weekend specials, such as Cote burger in brioche bun, and half roast chicken, as well as the a la carte menu. Again, a lot to choose from and we took our time deciding.

Light mains included the likes of tuna Nicoise, chargrilled salmon, and meat and fish dishes such as beef bourguignon, roast duck breast and fish parmentier. Grilled dishes included Breton chicken and rib-eye, sirloin and fillet steaks with a choice of sauces.

In the end, I opted for roast seabass fillet, £15.95, two slim fillets, delicately flavoured and carefully cooked, served with braised fennel, in a luscious moat of creamy calorific Champagne beurre blanc sauce with chives and tomato concasse. The sauce was well-seasoned – just a touch on the salty side though. A rich and filling dish, which my daughter dipped into (the buttery sauce was a big hit with her). A side of frites, £2.95, which we shared, were light, crisp and perfectly cooked.

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Her main of risotto vert, £10.95, was equally substantial, the rice with all-important bite, and packed with greens – broad beans, green beans, courgette, baby spinach, asparagus spears and pesto, mint and rocket. It was a flavoursome dish and incredibly filling.

From a choice of 11 desserts, featuring classics such as crème brulee and tarte au citron, we opted for praline crepe, £6.25, and tarte fine aux pommes, £6.25. My apple tart was freshly cooked and utterly delicious. Finely sliced apples were sweetly caramelised and the puff pastry base beautifully crisp, the tart topped with a scoop of vanilla ice cream and light dusting of icing sugar.

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Across the table, chocolate and praline fold-over crepe with caramelised banana slices and scoop of crème Chantilly was a treat for the sweet-toothed – and every mouthful was savoured by my daughter.

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We finished with a latte, £2.85, and cappuccino, £2.65. We’d lingered a couple of hours over lunch and it was nearly 4pm, but the restaurant was still buzzing. The new kid on the block has made a good first impression.

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Cote Brasserie, 120-122 Grainger Street, Newcastle, NE1 5AF. https://www.cote.co.uk/restaurant/details/Newcastle

 

 

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