Monday, 14 December 2009

Cote Kensington

47 Kensington Court
London W8 5DA
020 7938 4147

I try to avoid chains but came prejudiced in favour of Cote having had drinks several times in their Wardour Street branch where the tables at the front are unlaid and used as a bar area at less busy times. I had looked at the menu without eating there and the proposition had appeared attractive. There are now locations at Covent Garden, Kensington, Guildford, Richmond, Hays Galleria, Soho, Horsham, Wimbledon with St Albans and Cambridge opening in late November. The simple bistro style and value for money concept is of its time and earned Cote the “Best Value Restaurant in the UK for 2009” award from the Good Food Guide. It is Monday lunch time yet it is busy which is a good sign.

We both order the Breton Fish Stew from one of two choices on the Specials menu. This is described as a “traditional Breton fish stew of sea bass, mussels, clams, tiger prawns and squid with tomato, white wine and chilli” and reasonably priced at £12.95. Small debris plates arrive first and though of course we won’t be eating off them it is not a good sign that they are dirty. The stew stock is watery with no taste of wine nor any flavour of fish. It tastes of watery canned tomato and chilli. The tiger prawns are from frozen, firm rubbery and flavourless, and whilst the mussels are fresh and not over cooked there was no sea bass or if there was it must have been microscopic traces. We drank glasses of sauvignon blanc de la place 2008 vin de pays des cotes de gascogne. It was nothing special at £4.80 a glass, just the distinctive grassy sauvignon grape - would have been good in the stew though!

There were nice touches: hot bread and butter at no additional charge and filtered water in a Cote earthenware bottle for free. The water though suffered from being luke warm despite the outside of the bottle being chilled – we were earlyish for lunch and expect the bottles had only just been refrigerated.

The venue had previously been a Cuban restaurant and there were clumsy touches in the conversion: a plastic wood veneer on the bar which contrasted (badly) with the wooden chairs, tiled floor bistro look.

Overall too little attention to detail: cheap yes by London standards but that’s not the same as good value.

Cote Bistro on Urbanspoon

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