Admittedly, I’ve always been a picky eater. I would say I’ve only really discovered ‘proper’ food in my adult years, I’m always up for trying new things now. Take cheese for instance, I used to hate it, now I absolutely LOVE it and can’t believe I’ve been missing out for this long. Cuisine that has never been of my fancy, is French cuisine. Even when I was in Paris, I was very sceptical of French food. I had that preconception that I was only going to be offered snails or frog’s legs… yak! So, when I was invited Cote Brasserie, the newest restaurant addition to Newcastle’s foodie scene, I couldn’t say no. The swanky eatery has taken up residence from Barclays Bank in Grainger Street, therefore it’s been a somewhat talking point in the city ever since the news hit that they were taking the building over. I was intrigued to explore how Cote have managed to bring a Parisian feel to this old Newcastle corner.
Myself and a handful of other North-East bloggers were invited down to an exclusive VIP evening to discover the menu and excite our taste buds. I took my Mam along as I knew she’d appreciate the good grub! We arrived at half six and were instructed to head to the second floor, already at half six the main restaurant was heaving. The place has a very cosy feel to it, the lights are low, the music gently in the background, candles, heavy curtains draped over the windows, it feels very rustic and authentic. There’s a window at the far end of the restaurant captures a lovely view of the mosaic tiling of the Central Arcade and at the left of the entrance is a tucked-away dining area which includes a cosy table for two as well as an ideal space for a family get-together, with easy disabled access.
We headed upstairs and handed a delicate glass of champagne. We were all seated together as the aim of the event was to discuss the menu and compare tastes. The upstairs is a part of the building never previously seen by the bank’s former customers, it’s another dining room which also takes full advantage of the views, with its floor to ceiling windows overlooking both sides of Grainger Street. I imagine this area would be nice for private parties! Once everyone had arrived and seated, we were handed a few appetisers from the Starters menu to share. I liked the fact it was just tasters of everything because the starter menu was amazing, I would have really struggled to choose just one. My favourite was the Calamari, oh it was divine! It was basically breadcrumbed squid sautéed in garlic, lemon and parsley with tartare sauce, priced at £6.75. The Crab Mayonnaise was scrumptious too, that’s crab mayonnaise with avocado, cucumber, capers, and tarragon with toasted sourdough bread, priced at £8.50 and is actually something off the menu I would never have picked but absolutely loved. We also tried the Charcutie Board which comes in at £7.25 and is a selection of meats and the Fougasse, leaf-shaped garlic bread with parsley and sea salt, usually priced at £5.25.
We were allowed to choose a main from the menu, the menu is great by the way and has SO much selection. I immediately saw that there was Moules Frites (£12.95) on the main menu aka Mussels cooked with white wine, garlic, shallots parsley and fresh cream served with fries, my favourite seafood dish of all. My mind was made up there and then but that didn’t stop me lusting after the other dishes, the Risotto, salmon and steak dishes sounded amazing. My Mam went for the Beef Bourguignon (£16.50) which is basically traditional Beef Bourguignon with potato and chive purée, bacon lardons and chestnut mushrooms.
After a short wait, we received our mains and both were unbelievably tasty! My muscles were huge, much bigger than I’ve ever had before. The garlic cream sauce had marinated the muscles so that the tangy garlic was so succulent. The best part about having muscles and fries is dipping the fries in the cream, one word delicious! My Mams beef was cooked to perfection and completed by the pure, all of the tastes combined together was enchanting. Very impressed by the mains!
Now for the best part of any meal, dessert! We were allowed to select a dessert from the dessert menu. Again, the dessert menu was fantastic, lots of variety! I went for the Chocolate Fondant (£5.95) and my Mam went for the Praline Crepe, chocolate and praline crêpe with caramelised bananas and crème Chantilly (£6.25). Timings were perfect for when dessert arrived too, portion sizes throughout the meal they were just right, not too little, not too big. My Chocolate Fondant was marvellous, very rich and warm paired with vanilla ice-cream. The crepe won hands down out of the two though, it was lip-smacking. The crepe was faultlessness, definitely the right consistency and very authentic.
After we’d let our dessert settle it was time to head home! On our way out we were handed a very thoughtful gift, two bottles of their best wine as a souvenir to remember our evening. I had a wonderful time at Cote Brasserie Newcastle and it’s going to be a very popular restaurant I can just tell. They do great deals like their Weekday Lunch and Early Evening Menu where you can get two courses for £11.50 and three courses for just £13.50. What a bargain! I’ll definitely be heading back very soon, and my mind has been changed about French cuisine. If you’re in or around Newcastle, make sure you visit.