Peter Morrell and his wife enjoy a relaxed meal after a memorable church service at St Paul’s cathedral
My wife and I were lucky enough to join a party of people who attended the annual Advent Procession at St Paul’s cathedral recently. We had tickets to sit in the Quire immediately next to the High Altar. The hour long service displayed the full power of the Anglican faith. The service started at the west end of the church before proceeding down the Nave to the High Altar. The readings, blessings, prayers and singing were all deeply moving with some portions conducted in semi-darkness but the latter part of the ceremony was bathed in light and the air filled with billowing clouds of incense.
But man doesn’t live by faith alone so we looked for somewhere near the cathedral after the service to have a meal. A stone’s throw away down Ludgate Hill was a branch of Côte. The restaurant was quite big so easily able to accommodate our 10 strong party.
This was my first visit to a Côte so I was interested to take a look at both the menu and the wine list. The food was an array of French favourites that you would typically find in the French provinces.
We sipped on a French Meteor craft beer while perusing the menu. There are appetisers, things like olives and saucisson sec and the starters are a parade of familiar dishes. French onion soup, a charcuterie board and steak tartare are just three of the options.
There are two sections for the mains, light and regular. The light dishes include a goat’s cheese salad and Tuna Niçoise while in the regular section there are meats and fish dishes which feature beef, duck, pork, cod, haddock and a Breton fish stew complete the ensemble. There are also grills, with chicken and steak options.
My wife choice of calamari to start was a good one. It was served coated in breadcrumbs and the squid had been sautéed in garlic, lemon and parsley, a crunchy outside revealed a moist and tender interior with lots of flavour.
My first course was an equally good chicken liver parfait which came with toasted brioche and a spiced apple chutney. It was served in a mini Kilner jar, the portion was quite generous and the texture suitably velvety.
We both chose the same main, steak frites, a chargrilled thinly beaten out minute steak with frites and garlic butter. Served pink is was juicy and offered a good depth of flavour and we enjoyed the thin cut crispy chips.
Our dining companions were all happy with their starters and mains. As we had both red and white wine drinkers in the party we ordered a bottle of each. The wine list is exclusively French and there are wines from regions across France.
Our white was a sauvignon blanc, La Place 2015, a vin de pays from the Cotes de Gascogne. This showed strong lime aromas in the bouquet which were joined by gooseberry notes on the palate, the good acidity left a crisp, clean finish.
Our red was La Garenne, a 2016 Syrah vin de pays from the d`Oc region, that much improved wine growing area in south-west France. There was good berry fruit on the nose which evolved into tones of black pepper and spice in the mouth, the finish was long and persistent.
Desserts were beyond us but they ranged from the decadent chocolate fondant to a less indulgent tarte au citron.
The service team had been friendly and helpful and the food had been well prepared and presented.
We all felt at the end of the evening we had fed both our bodies and our souls.
Expected to pay around £35 p.p. including drinks and service.
There are numerous branches of Côte throughout the UK, the location we dined at was:
26 Ludgate Hill
London EC4M 7 DR
020 7236 4399