Last Friday Cote Brasserie in Brighton celebrated the launch of their new menu, including the addition of their famously moreish and uniquely French toasted sandwich as part of the lunch menu (served until 5pm) for the first time. As part of the celebrations they gave away eight hundred portions! Being in the highly enviable position of being “in the know” when it comes to the Brighton Foodie scene I was given advanced warning that this was going to happen, so on the day we made our way down to New Road to take full advantage, and while we were there we decided take a seat and sample a few more of their delights.
I have only ever been to Cote Brasserie in Lewes, which I absolutely adored. I remember it being a cosy restaurant with gorgeous features and fittings and delicious authentic French cooking, divine wines, and delightful friendly service. The first thing I notice when we arrive at the Brighton branch is that is seems much more of a grandiose affair, set in a stunning huge dining hall, with lovely high ceilings with brass rails, gold leaf, generous booths, gentle lighting and bistro style seating. It has somehow still recreated the warmth and cosiness that I was familiar with and imagine is synonymous with the Cote brand. The place is buzzing with diners enjoying leisurely lunches. Being a former music library the acoustics of the building are incredible, and the sound of happy diners all conversing over some lovely looking plates of food is music to my ears.
the menu consists of authentic French classic dishes inspired by the brasseries of Paris, and they are particularly well known for their moules and steaks. Their wine collection is particularly impressive, created by their expert wine buyer with a vast selection from vineyards stretching the whole of France. Our lovely friendly waitress Chantelle is knowledgeable and more than happy to make recommendations from both the wine and food menu.
We came for the croque, but decided to unwind with a glass or two of wine and nibble on a couple of starters. I plump for Chicken Liver Pate to start, which is just heavenly. Silky smooth and decadently creamy with a rich but not too overpowering flavour.A tangy apple chutney serves to further bring out the essence of the pate, and the toasted bread is warm, crisp and plentiful with a nice flavour of its own. My companion decides to go for Prawn Gratinee, Juicy king prawns cooked in a white wine and chilli Provençal sauce, topped with fresh lemon zest, rocket, and sourdough croûtes. The prawns were plump and perfectly cooked and the sauce was a delicious combination of sweet tomato with a nice touch of garlic and a kick of chilli at the back of the throat – delicious. An extra chunk of bread would have been perfect to mop up the rest of the moreish sauce, and I am certain Chantelle would have been happy to oblige, but my companion of the shy persuasion thought it easier just to reach over and steal some from my plate.
It is time for us to get our croque on! Each croque is made from sourdough bread bursting with creamy, home-made béchamel, melty Comté cheese and the finest Suffolk-reared Dingley Dell ham. Each mouthful feels indulgent and is just heavenly. This rich toasted sandwich is the definitive comfort food. What starts as a simple ham and swiss sandwich is taken to the next level with a thick, substantial lid of bechamel sauce that’s caramelized on top. It provides a luxe, creamy crown of richness that elevates and defines an already solid combo built with good-quality ham and flavorful cheese. My companion takes it up a notch and asks for a Croque Madame (adding a fried egg to the sandwich, perched on top like a ladies hat) and I am slightly jealous when I see the gorgeous bright orange yolk running down her chin as she takes a bite.
We thoroughly enjoyed everything about our dining experience at Cote Brasserie, especially the croques which are an inspired addition to the lunch menu. We loved it so much we have booked ourselves for lunch next week to try out some of the dishes that caught our eye from the tantalising new winter menu. The service we received was impeccable and the lovely warm and cosy atmosphere of this beautiful expansive restaurant made us not want to leave! The incredible flavours we experienced made us want to return and try everything on the menu. The chef here truly has a talent for contemporary French cuisine. The menu itself is very reasonably priced and has a massive variety of choice. For a truly delicious contemporary French dining experience you really do not need to look any further than Cote.