This is a lovely spot on the River Thames and well patronised by shoppers during the day and socialisers in the evening. But despite its modern façade, Kingston has history and how a lote of restaurants such as Côte.
It belonged to the king in Saxon times, as its name suggests, and was the earliest recorded royal borough. It was first mentioned in documents as far back as 838 and it lay on the boundary between the independent kingdoms of Wessex and Mercia. Kingston’s historic Market Place has been a centre of the community since around 1170. Over the past 800 years it’s been used for the punishment of criminals as well as the sale of food.
We wanted an evening by the river after a hot summer day. This stretch of water has inspired books, films and TV. It is where the Victorian novel Three Men in a Boat by Jerome K. Jerome has its opening scenes. The area around Kingston Bridge is now a thriving café and restaurant neighbourhood, and that’s where we were heading.
Côte’s Brasserie is a branch of a chain but let us not be sniffy about that. If one didn’t know then one would think that this restaurant, at least, was just a rather nice independently-run contemporary space selling French food. Its location would likely ensure its popularity for much of the year but the quality of the food will keep it full for most of the day and for all of the year.
Piquant Mixed Olives – spicy marinated olives with rose harissa, caper berries and cornichons – were our nibbles as we leafed through the wine list (many by the glass) and food menu. It’s not a huge bill of fare but it’s comprehensive and offers a real flavour of France – good traditional dishes that have had many pontificating with such phrases as ‘Well, nobody does it like the French’, even when we do!
The Charcuterie Board was my starter and proved to be a substantial spread of jambon de Savoie, smoked duck breast (outstanding), saucisson sec and duck rillettes with baby gem salad and chargrilled pain de campagne on the side. This would constitute a small lunch in some quarters! Beautifully presented meats.
My guest’s starter was Baked Crottin, traditional goat’s cheese from the Loire Valley, served warm atop a lamb’s lettuce and apple salad, walnuts, croutons and sultanas. This is a classic combination with the tang of the soft cheese contrasted with the sweet fruit.
Traditional Breton fish stew was my main course. Sea bass was arranged on top of a sizeable portion of mussels, clams, prawns and squid with tomato, white wine and chilli. It was served with a bit of theatre as the domed lid was removed from the bowl. Under £14? A remarkable price. It was heavy on the fish element and has enough delicious broth to make some French bread an essential mopping-up side dish.
Poulet ‘Breton’ is a speciality here at Côte. It’s corn-fed chicken reared in Brittany in the west of France. Half Chargrilled ‘Breton’ Chicken served with frites and wild mushroom sauce made with crème fraîche and thyme was my guest’s main course. Nothing fancy or too cheffy, just chicken and chips done right, with the quality of ingredients shining through. The sauce was a masterful touch and full of earthy flavour from real wild mushrooms.
Côte Chocolate and praline crêpe with caramelised bananas and crème Chantilly was a shared dessert. This was a delicate finish to the meal. The pancake was light and the bananas were a delightful combination of crisp and soft. Very French but with a little exotica. This was worth waiting for, although the apple tart had sounded tempting, too.
Côte Kingston is both contemporary and traditional. Its food can be enjoyed by the whole family without breaking the bank. It’s great value for money but quality had not been sacrificed. Service is professional and the ambiance is vibrant. Well worth a visit.
Unit 6, Riverside Walk
Kingston Upon Thames
Phone: 020 8546 9422
Restaurant review by Chrissie Walker © 2018