City Guide to Edinburgh, Scotland

City Guide to Edinburgh, Scotland

Good value French dishes in a stylish atmosphere

By Irene Brown - Posted on 07 July 2016


The restaurant chain Côte, that specialises in seasonally sourced authentic French dishes, opened its first branch in Wimbledon Village in August 2007 and has since branched across the length and breadth of the UK. Already with a branch in Glasgow, and with the potential of others in Aberdeen and St. Andrews, it has now opened in Edinburgh. In the deceivingly large premises that used to sell cookers in Edinburgh’s Frederick Street, some real cooking is now taking place. In other words, Côte has arrived in the Capital!

There are four dining areas: an optimistic plein air area; an inside area with tables for around 4 at la caisse; a more intimate central section with banquettes on one side and a panelled and mirrored room at the back with the capacity for a mix of small and bigger parties. Throughout there is an air of subdued and understated cool that is nicely matched by the unobtrusive music that gently colours the atmosphere. A walk down a set of winding stone stairs takes you to the equally stylish double veh seh but there is of course a disabled facility on the ground floor.

Neither my companion nor I had sampled Côte dining before so had little idea what to expect apart from the website blurb advertising its strong French theme and use of artisan products. So far so good!

Tap water is served in heavy stone bottles with the name Côte on the side and from the fairly extensive French wine menu we chose the clean and fruity Leduc Viognier 2015 with its dryish aftertaste that went down well over the lunch. French style is evident across the menu except that bread for the table is charged as an extra. Not a French habit in my experience.

There is an average priced à la carte menu and monthly specials but we chose from the great value set menu that offers two courses for £10.95 and three for £12.95 available between the hours of 12 noon and 7pm Monday to Friday. From its generous choice we picked beetroot salad goat’s cheese with croutons and walnut and mustard dressing and the Niҫoise dish Camembert Pissaladière. The colourful salad was full of texture and flavour and just enough as a starter though the crisp flatbread topped with nutty caramelised onions, thyme and thin cut and melted Camembert was a little hard round the edges.

Times between courses were nicely paced and our mains arrived courtesy of two servers – one bearing a large tray with our two plates and the other to place these plates in front of us where we could tuck in with the satisfyingly heavy cutlery and substantial white napery.

The butterfly cut chargrilled chicken breast that came served on a bed of potato purée (aka mash) with basil and with sauce vierge (olive oil, lemon juice, chopped tomato and basil) and a little salad of lamb’s lettuce leaves. While the fowl portion was generous and succulent, the mash was disappointingly dull and a bit tasteless. Conversely, the slightly overcooked roast sea bream that came with a concertina of pickled cucumber and a small dish of dill Hollondaise sauce, could have benefited from a little addition of some carbs in the form of rice or potatoes.

On the bright side, a lack of carbs left room for pudding! From a choice of six, we chose classic crème caramel that had a melty soft texture and with inky caramel topping, and an anglified dish, crumble aux pêches made with Normandy butter and served with vanilla ice cream. The latter hot comfort dish contained peach compote rather than chunky, tarty fruit pieces that would have been less jammy and more to my personal taste but a sweet treat all the same.

All this was served by a group of pleasant, helpful, efficient and enthusiastic young staff that are clearly keen to be on board in this joint that has the air of being a cut above. This may be a baby link in a strong chain but its presence looks like a welcome addition to Edinburgh’s city centre dining out scene.