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Cote, Mailbox Review

Cote Terrace Mailbox

Cote Terrace Mailbox

The promise of a delicious French meal in a canal-side restaurant is something that I look forward to with relish.

Having read the rave reviews on the website and got the old taste buds raring to go with the promise of steak frites, moules marinieres and corn fed chicken from Languedoc I was all set for wonderful evening which would transport me back 20 years to when I lived there.
On arrival it was difficult to decide where to sit, the staff couldn’t be warmer and more inviting but sadly the layout isn’t; with the lights on full power and some awful elevator-style music it couldn’t have felt less like a French brasserie. However the menu did look exceedingly good and the specials sounded very tempting indeed. They also have their own complimentary bottled water, an unnecessary but nice touch.
To start I ordered a favourite, Seared Scallops, served with Frisee Salad, Bacon Lardons and a warm Puy Lentil, Tomato and Garlic dressing (£7.95) along with Calamari (£5.95), not your most traditional French dish I agree, but sautéed in Garlic, Lemon and Parsley, and served with a Tartare Sauce they sounded just delicious. We also ordered bread as there was none on the table (not very French! I’d much rather see bread and a jug of tap water.).
When the starters arrived they were beautifully presented, it all looked perfectly cooked and wonderfully fresh and I couldn’t wait to tuck in. Disappointingly both dishes were only luke warm at best, the Calamari, even though served in a skillet wasn’t hot and there was no sign of the bread.  I can’t fault the quality of the ingredients, the flavours nor the presentation but please please serve it hot; it can’t be that far to the kitchen surely.
For main course a 10 oz Rib-eye with garlic butter and frites (£14.95) and from the specials menu a whole Roasted Seabream with Rosemary, Thyme, Fennel Seeds and Lemon (£12.85) with a side of French Beans (£2.95).  The steak was perfect, an excellent piece and perfectly cooked with fabulous Frites, I would return here just for another taste of that steak! The Seabream was also delicious, firm flesh seasoned and grilled to perfection. However the French Beans were cold, but on the plus side the bread arrived!
For dessert we tried both house specials, Crème Brulee (£5.25) and Crème Caramel (£4.50), both of which were pleasant; good texture and above average flavour. By no means the best I’ve had but certainly nowhere near the worst.
We chose to accompany the meal with a bottle of the house white, a Lagarde Blanc 2009 (£14.25), which was exceptionally good with the apple and citrus notes making it a lovely clean crisp wine.
The most frustrating thing about Côte is that with only a few improvements this restaurant could be packed and really provide something that the city always needs more of; good fresh food at an affordable price in a great location. Turn the lights down, improve the music and make sure the food is hot and you’re onto a winner! My sentiments are in wholehearted agreement with a colleague of mine who visited this establishment and said “Côte Restaurant at the Mailbox is okay and there is the potential for huge improvement.”

It’s just all a bit too English.

Côte Restaurant Canalside, The Mailbox,120-122 Wharfside Street, Birmingham, West Midlands B1 1RX  0121 631 1587

Review by Kate Eccles for ETM (C)

Cote Restaurant Interior

Cote Restaurant Interior

Cote Prawn Dish

Cote Prawn Dish

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