Côte | French dining in Cheltenham

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As a Cheltonian born and bred I’ve seen restaurants come and go, but when Montpellier Brasserie closed down last summer I was disappointed. Their food and cocktails always raised a smile when I visited and I held fond memories of the place, but I was intrigued to find out who would replace this local dining spot.

Côte is a French chain inspired by Parisian bistros, putting together ‘authentic brasserie dishes with a modern twist‘. From steak to seafood and salads, there is something for everyone to enjoy and I couldn’t wait to tuck in and try what is on offer. Officially opening in Cheltenham on Monday 13th April, myself and a friend got to sample some of the delights a couple days early.

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Lunchtime on a Saturday: the atmosphere was lively in an informal yet elegant setting. Friendly faces greeted us as we entered (and departed), the service was efficient and we didn’t have to wait long before our drinks and complimentary nibbles were served. Supervisors were on hand to prompt some of the staff to ensure customers were happy, monitoring the room for further improvements, something that will probably be present for the coming weeks whilst they settle in to their new surroundings. Our waiter was lovely and he was extremely attentive and the quality of the dining experience shone through, even before food reached our stomachs.

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We enjoyed a bowl of juicy olives and crusty bread whilst perusing the menu, offering plenty of choice for most appetites. Whilst Sam chose the Boudin Noir as his starter (French black pudding with caramelised apples, poached egg and a frisée salad), I went with an old favourite – calamari.

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I was conscious not to fill up on too much fresh bread (despite how tasty it was) in fear of ruining my two courses. Thank goodness I did as the portion of calamari was particularly generous! I’m used to sharing this dish in other restaurants so on average I would expect 6-8 pieces between two people, but there must have been 10+ pieces in this cute little pan of breadcrumbed squid! As my stomach started to shrink I felt like I had been eating a main course, so left the final few pieces for Sam to finish off. Dare I say it it might be the best calamari I have ever had! I would recommend this as a sharing dish though, unless you are feeling particularly ravenous.

For my main I chose the Salmon Fishcakes, a favourite dish of mine, with a baby spinach salad, dill, a wholegrain mustard sauce, and a side of French green beans to compliment the meal. I was slightly full from the starter but found it easy to demolish most of the main course, the only thing I didn’t care for were the number of capers on my plate – perhaps an ingredient that should be mentioned on the menu. Sam ordered the roasted duck breast with gratin potato and a griottine cherry sauce, and after trying a mouthful of the tender duck I look forward to ordering it on my next visit.

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We were offered more drinks and handed the dessert menu. Everything sounded scrumptious! It’s a shame I felt so full up because the Praline Crêpes sound amazing, I will definitely be ordering this next time. We went with a coffee instead to end our lovely lunch with, and before we knew it it was time to leave.

From the decor to the service I was impressed with the experience and leaves you wanting to try more – great quality food for excellent prices.

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Will you be visiting?

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