Côte is one of those rare chain restaurants that proves that repeating a winning formula can sometimes ensure everyone can enjoy a great experience wherever they are. I've been to a few of their outlets around the country, and have always had nothing short of a lovely time. The decor of each one is sufficiently distinctive that you don't always feel like you could be anywhere in the world, but the nature of the franchise means that the food and service are consistently reliable. My recent lunchtime visit to their George Street branch was no exception.
Arriving slightly after peak lunchtime on a Sunday, my friend and I were seated straight away (given the choice of where to sit, which instantly made us warm to the waiter). While our position next to the window ensured a good amount of sunlight, it would have been slightly more relaxing to have had a bit more elbow room - our section had 3 tables packed in, when two would have probably been optimum for comfort - but I suppose that economy of scale includes packing guests in fairly tightly! Once immersed in exploring the menu, however, we quickly stopped noticing how close we were sat to our neighbours.
Being a French-inspired bistro, Côte has a fittingly broad menu to demonstrate the range available in French cuisine. Although the views over the back of the Odeon meant I couldn't quite forget I wasn't in Paris, there were dishes of the menu reminiscent of more earthy, family-run establishments I've been fortunate enough to visit in small french villages, with the prices not too far removed. After a fair amount of indecisive browsing, almost tempted by the veggie risotto, steak frites and lamb rump, I opted for the rosemary roast chicken from the ‘monthly specials’ menu, while my companion had the swordfish.
These arrived promptly while we sipped from our fresh orange juices and the prettily-presented signature carafes of tap water. The variety of dishes on the menu was certainly not undermined by a lack of expertise, since both mains were perfectly pitched: a great balance of bold yet fragrant flavours, and hearty portion sizes. No large, empty plates here! Although my chicken was a little dry, the rosemary gravy was a delight, and it sat on a bed of tender, buttery green beans. For a frugal millenial like myself, it is always a relief when mains can actually be a whole meal, so I was grateful that the beans and accompanying dauphinoise potatoes were included in the very reasonable price. And while the chicken hit the spot, the potatoes were downright exquisite - decadent, creamy, yet never too much. My companion's swordfish was also moreish: a feast of lemony, garlicky flavours on a satisfying heap of soft beans.
The convivial atmosphere, well-executed and flavoursome dishes, and attentive service combine to make Côte a fun spot for lunch or dinner. If you don’t have the time to venture out of the city centre, this place offers a satisfying meal that won’t break the bank, with a dash more personality than many of its George Street neighbours.