Another restaurant has opened its doors in the Toon. Côte Brasserie is part of an upmarket chain which originally launched in the capital and has become ubiquitous in most cities over the last few years. It has taken over the spot formerly home to Barclays Bank on Grainger Street, but all traces of its former incarnation have been removed. The transformation is quite something, it has to be said.
French cuisine is hardly renowned for being the most vegan-friendly but I decided we’d give it a try so my meat eating friends could sample the food and ambience of Newcastle’s newest restaurant. Côte could be described as ‘lite’ in comparison to the eateries lining the Champs Elysee, with a menu bereft of anything the less adventurous Geordie may steer clear of. Instead of Escargot and Frog’s Legs you will find Steak or Moules Frites instead.
The Vegetarian Menu was requested so I could peruse what I could adapt, but many dishes featured butter or cheese. I was told by staff that Risotto Vert (£10.95) could be adapted, while the Braised Puy Lentils could be served without a poached egg. Thankfully I wasn’t limited to salad and chips so I was happy enough. There was also fruit and sorbet for dessert. Not exactly exciting, but I do have to remind myself that even a year ago options were limited in the city and this is all progress.
My friends ordered glasses of chilled white vino (Château Laulerie Bergerac 2016 Sauvignon Blanc, in case you’re interested) while I supped on water. The curse of midweek lunches and the nursery run afterwards! There’s a choice of 35 wines available, as well as a selection of fizzy options for those who maybe have something to celebrate during their visit.
Laura ordered Steak Frites which was served pink. As part of the Plat Rapides range, this fancy version of Steak & Chips cost £11.95. Not bad for a main course in a chain restaurant, it has to be said, but if you wanted a sauce like Bernaise served with your meat that would set you back an additional £1.95. This soon adds up.
My other friend opted for a seasonal Mushroom Risotto, which was luxuriously creamy. She was full of praise and said it was one of the better versions she had.
My Puy Lentil main course was surprisingly filling. It was suggested that a side basket of bread was be served to compensate for the removal of the egg but this failed to materialise. Underneath the roasted vegetables was a large serving of lentils, which were well cooked and seasoned. It was a substantial portion and the bread wasn’t missed, it just seems a little disappointing I still paid full price for less food as a vegan than a vegetarian. The lack of a specialist vegan menu or labelling is a letdown and feel Côte to address this throughout the chain so as not to lag behind its competitors.
The restaurant was quite busy we ended up skipping desserts as it had taken a while for our orders to arrive and we had another engagement to attend afterwards. A discretionary charge of 12.5% was automatically added to the bill. I mention this as many take umbrage at the practice. We were reasonably happy with the service and the food at Côte so would have no reason not to leave a tip in the first place. We hope this surcharge is shared out to staff fairly further down the line.
With lunch time offers (Mon – Fri, 12 until 7pm, 2 courses from a selection are just £11.50 or 3 for £13.50) and set menus, Côte Brasserie is a surprisingly good value restaurant for a spot of scran in Newcastle city centre. We just hope its addition to the dining scene doesn’t detrimentally impact some of our independent bistros in the area like the wonderful French Quarter.
Thanks for reading,