Imagine a little corner of Norwich that closely resembles a Parisian Brasserie; smartly dressed tables with a wide open view onto the street or towards an elegant interior that is surprisingly unpretentious for somewhere so elegant, well-turned out staff, a relaxed atmosphere that is serious about excellent food, be it breakfast, lunch or dinnertime… That is Côte Brasserie.
On Exchange Street in Norwich, recently opened Côte Brasserie claims their ‘inspiration for the food and design … is a modern interpretation of the many famous bistros of Paris’. To my mind, they’ve nailed it.
Since Côte opened at the start of the summer, we’ve had a big family breakfast there and now a peaceful lunch for two.
For lunch, we sat on the tables in front of (behind?) the floor-to-ceiling doors that, on this particular sunny day, were opened, giving us the wonderful feeling of dining al fresco. While perhaps not quite offering the timeless views of Montmartre or Notre Dame, it was still lovely nonetheless to feel like you were dining outside amidst the hustle and bustle of a buzzing city.
To start I had the Pissaladiére Reblochon (a traditional warm flatbread from Nice with caramelised onions and Reblochon Cheese and Thyme (very nice – very flavoursome).
My Other Half (OH) had the Smoked Salmon (“beautiful presentation, was different to that which I’d imagined… mixture of lemon zest and capers made for a lovely, fresh taste – ideal for a hot summers day”).
For my main I had the Spinach and Mushroom Crépes (delicious – and very hearty!) while OH had Linguine which was packed with Seafood (prawns, mussels, clams, squid – “that was fabulous – the squid was perfect – not at all chewy like it often is”).
Despite the above being easily enough to sate even the largest lunch appetite, we’d heard that the desserts at Côte Brasserie were the stuff of legend, so we felt obliged to descend the slippery slope into gluttony. Fortunately we were not disappointed.
My Crème Caramel (a Côte speciality – and as a bit of a CC fan, an option I was duty-bound to try) was delicious. Imagine Crème Brûlée before it is brûlée-ed and as a Crème Caramel and you’re in the right ballpark. Divine.
OH’s Tarte Fine Aux Pommes was not at all as I’d imagined, being entirely more rustic and authentic looking than the usual ‘French Pastries’ I’d seen. Obviously, it was utterly delicious.
Our meal was accompanied by Côte’s own complimentary filtered table water (presented in a groovy copper-coloured signature bottle) and finished with great coffee (forgive us – it was the middle of the day and we were driving and collecting children from school and so forth). However, being a bona-fide brasserie, Côte is fully licensed and has a large range of interesting-sounding wines, spirits, beers and ciders.
Our lunch – which lasted some two hours yet at no point felt drawn-out, was delightfully relaxing and pleasing on every front. The staff were attentive and friendly, the food was delightful and the restaurant itself is reassuringly lacking in self-importance.
If you’re looking for a dining experience that is unhurried, unpretentious and uncompromising in quality, Côte is a sound bet. Bon appétit!
Côte Brasserie is open Monday – Friday 8am – 11pm, Saturday 9am – 11pm, Sunday 9am – 10.30pm.
29 Exchange Street, Norwich, NR2 1DP.
Tel: 01603 611 440.