one of the main things that fuels my wanderlust is the abundance of new exciting flavours. I like to think that I’m quite adventurous with my eating, and traveling is the perfect opportunity to exercise that curiosity. seeing as I’m stuck in Oxford (mostly coz of my own laziness and unjustified fear that I have work due even when I don’t which fills me if I ever entertain the thought of leaving) I have resorted to quenching my epicurean wanderlust through frequenting restaurants of different cuisines on date nights when it’s a tad more acceptable to splurge on food. what better way to start this little cuisine quest with the country from which the word cuisine originated from: France. (I actually chose French because it’s a safe bet and I’m trying to slowly ease my not-so-adventurous boyfriend into the whole thing.)
I’ve passed by Côte many a time, peered into the bustling brasserie and made a mental note to try it out sometime. Well these mental notes have finally piled up and overflowed and consequently I’ve finally gotten round to it.
It was a good thing we made a reservation because, as all good restaurants are on a saturday night, Côte was thronging with people. Stepping into the entrance lobby, we arrived into an assemblage of small, inter-connecting rooms and were led to our table for two. The atmospherically lit muted grey walls, flickering candles, open shelves of wine and plethora of mirrors really made me feel like I was in a Parisian bistro.
In terms of authenticity, Côte undeniably fulfils its aim to emulate the simple bistro cooking you would find in any number of restaurants across France. As we weren’t really feeling starters, though a few caught my eye, we decided to skip them to save room for dessert and go straight to the mains. After much umming and ahhing, I went for the roast sea bass and James went for the fish parmentier, which we coupled with a glass of LaGarde Blanc each. The sea bass was exquisite – there were two juicy fillets, with a few big chunks of braised fennel in a champagne beurre blanc with chives and chopped tomatoes. I’m usually a bit wary of cream sauces as some of them can be a bit too heavy, but this one had the perfect thickness and complemented the melt-in-your-mouth sea bass. James was jealous of my choice of main though he was still very happy with his fish parmentier which was basically a fancy French version of fish pie. I tried a bit and I could really tell that the seafood was fresh though I’m personally not a huge fan of pies.
Dessert choosing is always a pallava as I somehow have always managed to choose something that I end up being disappointed in. I decided to play it safe and stick with my classic childhood favourite, crème brulée and James chose the lemon tart. I really liked the contrast in texture between the crispy caramel top and the rich custard base but the custard was a tad too runny and not flavoursome enough for my liking. The lemon tart on the other hand was divine. I really liked the rich intense tangy flavour of the lemon custard filling and the pastry shell wasn’t too crumbly. I couldn’t resist sneaking in a few spoonfuls.
All in all it was a lovely night and a lovely meal. The service was efficient and the ambience was delightful. I know I’ve used a lot of incredibly cheesy adjectives but I promise you they are well-deserved.
Côte 41-47 George Street, Oxford OX1 2BE