Sunday, 22 April 2012
For years I have always wanted to try steak tartare, but in restaurants that had it on there menu it was always served as a main course. I was apprehensive about ordering it just in case I didn't like it and would end up an expensive waste of money. When I first went to Cotes, a few years ago, they had it as a starter and thought it would be great to try it and if I didn't like it I wouldn't waste too much money on it. As it was I really enjoyed and have had it several times since as a main course.
Cotes is a french style chain that has grown rapidly since my first visit but I haven't actually been back since that first visit. I've always wanted to try it out again but my other half and friends always wanted to go somewhere else. I was also interested to see if the food had suffered with the quick expansion, and with the downturn in the economy I wondered it they had dumbed down on the ingredients, as some restaurant chains have done, Strada comes to mind.
The other day I was in Hampstead and my other half joined me and we decided to go to Cotes as they were doing a good deal of £9.95 for a two course lunch. I must admit I wasn't going to do the deal as the dishes didn't float my boat, so I checked out the al a carte menu. Although it had a great variety, with some wonderful sounding dishes, like steak tartare, roast seabass and goats cheese salad, I decided to actually go with the deal because I was a bit skint and you can't complain at paying only £9.95.
I started with duck, chicken and pork terrine with sourdough toast and cornichons, which was vibrate and bold. The toast was light and crisp and with the cornichons lighten the terrine. My partner ordered the whitebait with tartar sauce and when placed on the table the first thing we notice was the very strong fishy smell, it was actually putting my partner off, as he doesn't like strong fish and the aroma is not something I’ve ever noticed with whitebait. He started to eat it, but found them to strong, he gave me a bit and I agreed and in the end he left some of it. I guess we should have sent it back, but being the polite english people we are, we didn't :-)
For the main course I ordered salmon and smoked haddock fish cake with poached egg and wilted spinach. The fishcake was light and well seasoned, with big chunks of fish and potatoes. The poached egg was a little over cooked for my liking, but went well with the fishcake. My partner ordered the chicken breast with puy lentils with a tomato dressing. The chicken was cooked well and moist, the lentils were firm and had a great bite, but the garlic hadn't been cooked out and was too overpowering.
When we entered the restaurant we were greeted by a wonderful smile from a waitress, but our main waiter although polite was miserable. It was almost like he been sucking on lemons all day, not one smile.
I have a issue when restaurants charge for side dishes, but with Cotes I don't mind, too much, because their main courses are reasonable priced. The ingredients and the presentation haven't been dumbed down, which I am pleased about. I enjoyed the experience and will go back, but I think I might have a harder time dragging my otherhalf back.