I still don’t know many good places in London even though I work there now. Thankfully, everyone I know seems to know all of the great places to eat and drink so I am never without somewhere to participate in my favourite pastime – eating. On Friday night I had the pleasure of dining at the Cote Brassiere in Oxford Circus. I’ve always loved French food. When I worked in Brittany at the age of 20 I had some exposure to it but not nearly enough, so I have been seeking out as much French cuisine as I can over the years to make up for my lack of interest in the culture while I was there (to be honest we were all a big group of giant children let loose on a Keycamp campsite – the whole season was like a lads holiday). For me, Cafe Rouge is always a shout and I have actually been to a wonderful blogger meet up at the Loughton one.
As for Cote Brassiere I must admit I had never heard of it. Let’s face it the only places worth eating at in Essex are Sheesh or La Sala. One thing I find wonderful about the city are all of the cute little finds you have on the back streets and side streets. Cote is tucked away in Charlotte Street in a prime location that is away from the hustle and bustle and the annoying tourists with giant maps – but still within walking distance to the tube.
From the outside Cote looks tiny and one would fully expect it to be one of those restaurants that crams in as many tables as possible into a small space so that you end up sitting trying to enjoy your Coq au Vin with someone chewing in your ear and kicking your foot every time they move. Cote isn’t like this at all. They obviously value quality over quantity and each table has enough space to give the intimate feel one would expect from a French restaurant. I always find it inappropriate when restaurants are too busy and loud. If I wanted that to be part of my eating experience I’d just take a sandwich to a rave. Cote gets the balance right with it’s atmosphere and the decor and lighting compliment the cosy and rustic feel perfectly.
The first order of business was of course wine. Sometimes I like to pretend I know about wine but realistically all I know is that there is a Tesco brand of prosecco with a yellow label that makes me and my friend incredibly ill when we drink it and how to open a bottle with a cork so spectacularly badly that you end up with a glass of cork. So needless to say, I am not the best authority on the wine list. That said it was very varied and the house white wine was a far cry from that of many other chain restaurants that have a house wine that tastes as if it may actually be weedkiller.
Being vegetarian now has presented a lot less challenges when eating out than I initially thought it would. Thankfully restaurants are now taking heed and offering a wide variety of vegetarian and vegan dishes. There were a couple on offer at Cote and me being me I went for the one that contained the most cheese, even though I shouldn’t eat it and am currently suffering the consequences laying in bed off of my head on codeine. I chose the spinach and mushroom crepes in a Gruyere cheese sauce. Now crepes are something I can always get on board with, and were one of the few things I tried for the first time when working away in France. I can’t say my first crepe was something as luxurious as the ones at Cote. They were basically from the ‘crepe woman’ who came along to the campsite once a week in her van and plugged her little mobile business into the plugs in the shower block. Unfortunately for her one week she timed this quite badly and coincided with me getting out of the shower. You can imagine how funny I found it when my friend ran in to tell me I had unplugged her van to plug in my hair dryer. Crepe woman on the other hand did NOT find this funny.
So I thought I would stick with what I knew and give them a try. The crepes themselves were perfection. Somehow they managed to stay crispy even though they were swathed in creamy cheese sauce. The spinach was cooked just as I like it, incredibly soft, and the mushrooms were also a great addition. Cheese sauce for me is like an art form. When I make my own I take it very seriously. Going out and having it in a restaurant is. big deal for me. Cote lived up to my expectations. I’m just sorry I couldn’t have eaten more but unfortunately spinach and mushroom crepes are a lot more filling than they sound. This did also mean that I didn’t have a dessert so I can’t give you a review on these even thought they looked fabulous.
I’ve been fortunate enough to eat at some great places in London and this is now one of my favourites. If you are in the area I would certainly recommend giving it a try.
Cote Brassiere is on Charlotte St around a five minute walk from Oxford Circus. A meal with drinks for two people will be around £25 per person. This review was neither sponsored nor paid for by the restaurant themselves.