So, on a warm summer’s evening last week, I found myself heading for Côte Brasserie in Harrogate after a kind invitation by the restaurant. As the invitation included two other blogging friends, I was really looking forward to an evening of good food, a relaxed atmosphere and friendship.
As I walked down Albert Street in the evening sunshine, I noticed groups of people sat outside Côte, enjoying a meal with friends and family. It was all very relaxed and convivial and dare I say it, almost Continental. I had just returned from a holiday in Spain where eating outside restaurants is commonplace. This is helped by the constant warm weather of course. Côte in Harrogate had attempted ( very successfully ) to replicate this relaxed, laid back atmosphere of Continental eating. By opening the large concertina style doors and windows, this allowed the indoor and outdoor seating to merge which was very pleasant.
It was my first visit to Côte in Harrogate so I really didn’t know what to expect. I had though, heard good things about the food and service. My first impression on walking through the door was one of a busy, but relaxed restaurant. After catching up with the lovely Victoria from The Harrogate Girl and Manraj from Northern Bindi, we settled down to cast our eyes over the extensive menu. It certainly was extensive, with a great selection for both meat, non meat eaters and vegetarians. The A La Carte French style menu was simple to read, but offered a wide choice ranging from chicken to fish dishes.
There was also a very interesting Prestige Set Menu which offered great value for money. This menu is available from noon to closing time and is priced at a very reasonably £15.95 for two courses and £18.95 for three courses.
Having ordered our food from the very efficient and attentive waiter, I had a glance round at the decor and seating arrangements. The restaurant interior is obviously styled on a typical French bistro, simple and understated. It certainly didn’t feel as opulent as other restaurants I have visited, but then I didn’t really expect it to. For me, eating in a Continental style restaurant should be relaxed and casual with a laid back style. Our table was located near the door, but I honestly was not bothered by this. In fact, the cool breeze was actually welcome on what was a hot, muggy evening.
And so our food arrived. We all shared a bowl of delicious mixed olives which were marinated in olive oil, garlic and herbs. I always think olives are just the perfect hors d’oeuvre as they are neither too filling or too spicy.
In no time at all our starters arrived. I had chosen Charentais Melon with Savoie Ham which had been drizzled in olive oil. This starter is a big favourite of mine as I think the lightness of the food does not detract from the main meal which is yet to come. The melon was fresh and juicy and the ham was just perfect with hardly any fat on it. Yes, it’s a simple dish, but I have been in restaurants where it has been done poorly, but this wasn’t the case in Cote.
For my main course I chose from the Light Main section of the menu as I was secretly leaving room for a dessert. My mains choice was Chargrilled Salmon with Ratatouille and a lemon and olive oil dressing. I am quite fussy how my fish is cooked as I do prefer it to be cooked through, none of this seared method for me. I was more than happy with my salmon. It was cooked perfectly and the flakes just fell apart as I touched them, which is just how I like it. The taste was simple, yet mouthwatering with a pleasant, gentle flavour. The ratatouille had a strong tomato, earthy flavour which complimented the subtle salmon very well. I had green beans as a side order which were fresh and crunchy and a great compliment to the dish.
Feeling proud of myself for leaving room for dessert, I scanned the menu to try and make my choice which I knew would be difficult. Desserts are my ‘thing’ and I have a particular weakness for French style desserts. Well, we all chose the same dessert which was a typical French classic, the Crepe. Our choice was a freshly made crepe topped with strawberries, strawberry jus and Chantilly cream. And yes, it tasted as good as it looked ! The crepe was light and perfectly cooked. The tarteness of the strawberries was perfectly complimented by the rich, sweet Chantilly cream. The dessert was surprisingly light which, for me, is a good thing as I hate to leave a restaurant feeling like I have eaten too much.
So my thoughts on the food was one of positive memories and a good feeling that I would definitely like to return with my family. The service was excellent and was attentive but never intrusive. I had a wonderful evening with lovely friends, much laughter and good food. You can’t ask for more than that.
Until next time dear friends
* * Thank you to Côte Brasserie, Harrogate for inviting us for a complimentary meal. My words and thoughts are my own **