A Quite Exceptional Bistro in the Heart of Cirencester

Article by Chris Roberts MBE PR

For anyone who knows Cirencester or wants to explore the classy capital of the Cotswolds, then take a trip down Black Jack Street, located near to, and with a view of, Cirencester’s famous abbey – St John the Baptist Church.

Just a short way along this historic and charming back street is Côte Brasserie – a gorgeous French bistro that, I am told, has been open for six years. So why have I never sampled the bistro’s delights before and why has it taken me so long to discover this gourmet heaven?

Maybe it’s because the modern glass-fronted exterior portrays a fairly ordinary bijou bistro that doesn’t accurately depict the spacious yet welcoming interior that offers fabulous French food.

Once inside, I was surprised to find the sizeable dining space so busy at 7 o’clock on a Thursday night! However, there was no waiting for a seat and my fellow foodie and I were warmly welcomed by the front-of-house staff, shown to a cosy and intimate booth and offered the menus to choose from.

There’s an extensive, but not expensive à la carte menu with starters all under a tenner and mains ranging between £12.95 and £19.95. Steaks from Côte’s own Master Butcher are trimmed and prepared to perfection in-house and range from an affordable minute steak to a more expensive rib-eye steak experience for two sharing. Supplementing the à la carte menu is a prix fixé menu with two courses for £14.95 or three courses for £18.95.

The wine list is impressive and so was our knowledgeable waiter, Guy, who took the time to patiently pair the perfect wine with our chosen food.

A restaurant is only as good as its chef and Côte Brasserie Cirencester boasts four chefs, who are part of the skilled and passionate team that work tirelessly to give a first-class eating experience. We were equally impressed by the friendliness of manager Johnny, who educated us on how some of the dishes are cooked and prepared and where Côte’s sustainable produce and ingredients are sourced.

From the great choice of starters on the à la carte menu, we chose the Fig & Bayonne Ham Salad with Roquefort dressing, beetroot, watercress and croûtes and Crispy Confit Duck Salad with glazed crispy duck confit, oranges, watercress, French bean & courgette salad and a yoghurt dressing.

Fig & Bayonne Ham Salad
Roquefort dressing, beetroot, watercress and croûtes

The portion-sizes were as generous as the multitude of flavours. Who would have thought of putting figs, beetroot and Roquefort together? But it works! It not only works, but it excites all your taste buds in one fell swoop! And the warmth of the crispy duck against the cool and tangy oranges and peppery watercress was undeniably a case of opposites attract.

For our mains, we chose the Confit Pork Belly with Savoy cabbage, gratin Dauphinoise potatoes, Calvados & thyme jus and Monkfish Normande with pan-fried Cornish monkfish, Normandy cider velouté, mussels, julienne apple, fennel and shallots. I realised when choosing the pork belly that I might be treading on dangerous ground, as pork belly can often be fatty and overly tough. However, the Côte Brasserie chef was having none of that and presented a wonderfully tender, lean and appealing piece of pork nestling atop the Savoy cabbage with my favourite Dauphinoise potatoes as a side dish.

The number of Normandy mussels on my fellow foodie’s chosen main course nearly, but not quite, outweighed the monkfish but each had an equal part to play on the platter in the fruits-of-the-sea spectacular. Once again, generous in flavour, the fishy feast was complimented by an abundance of accompaniments enriching the experience and was a dish that would please any fish aficionado.

Then on to the serious part of the evening – the dessert! All through the starters and the main course, I had been dreaming and drooling about the dessert I had already selected! The Almond Financier appeared to have all the things that I love – a baked French almond cake, blackberry compote, vanilla ice cream and salted caramel – and I was not disappointed. The almond cake was rich in almond flavouring and as light as a feather with the blackberry compote adding just that little bit of tanginess to offset the sweetness of the cake and ice cream. Maybe the salted caramel sauce was superfluous to the overall creation, as I didn’t feel the need to pour this over the cake, but maybe I just wanted to enjoy the almond cake completely unadulterated!

Almond Financier
A baked French almond cake
Blackberry compote, vanilla ice cream, salted caramel

My companion for the evening was also overly full after two very substantial first and second courses but chose to mix-and-match from the Prix Fixé menu with a Burnt Orange Tart with vanilla crème fraiche and caramelised orange. It was the perfect choice for something that was fairly light to finish, although the menu did state that each serving was 432kcal!!

So, was the six-year wait to experience Côte Brasserie actually worth it? Most definitely! The food is indulgent, but not pretentious and the prices, although not exceptionally cheap, won’t make you gasp when you get the bill.

In short, Côte Brasserie is a classy bistro and a pleasant surprise in the bustling Cotswold town of Cirencester. It can adequately cope with up to 200 covers a night in the dining room and up to 60 people at a private party in the covered courtyard area. It can serve for special occasions, romantic dining, impromptu family meals, birthday/anniversary parties, business dinners/lunches, breakfasts and, in the not-too-distant future, Christmas parties.

Côte’s new winter/Christmas menus will be available soon, so keep an eye on their website to see what dishes are being offered between now and Christmas/New Year: https://www.cote.co.uk/restaurant/cirencester/menus.

With over 80 Côte Brasserie restaurants throughout the country, Cirencester is very lucky to have a Côte Brasserie of its own right in the heart of the market town.

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