Côte has a several locations in Cardiff but, as we were in the city centre, the convenience of its Mill Lane brasserie to John Lewis, St David’s and the old arcades meant we wouldn’t have to walk far.
We were also aware that they had ‘Alpine Specials’ available (one of the benefits of being on the mailing list) so thought we’d take a look.
The Mill Lane Côte is quietly stylish inside with warm tones and plenty of mirrors. It has a very French feel.
On arrival, with drinks ordered, we scanned over the menus. The Alpine Specials looked pretty enticing but, sadly, on this day, the Diots starter was not available. Shame, as the smoked sausage and cherry tomatoes in a white wine and caramelised onion sauce with a sourdough baguette sounded pretty scrummy. So, we chose liver parfait and some calamari (breadcrumbed squid with tartare sauce). They’re old favourites and Côte always do them well. Today was no exception, the calamari were plump and tasty and the parfait as creamy and slightly gamey as it always is.
For mains, Jennifer, true to form, orders her rare steak with eggs. It’s not quite on the menu that way but the waiters are accommodating. I went for the Monkfish Normande.
Now we were slightly tempted by the Tartiflette from the Alpine Specials but the main menu was beckoning, so we gave in. Having said that, a lady on the table next to us ordered the Tartiflette and it did look delicious. I’m quoting from the menu: “An indulgent gratin of sliced potatoes, caramelised onion, smoked bacon lardons topped with melted Reblochon and Comte cheese. Served with green salad and sourdough bread.”
I overhead her saying “Mmm, this is lovely!” to her husband. I must confess, I was beginning to wish I had ordered it. It looked lovely and her musings reinforced my concerns about my main choice.
Our mains arrived and I needn’t have worried. Jennifer’s steak was very nicely cooked; tender and tasty (we do like their steak knives, just saying), and my Monkfish Normande was, in my humble opinion, even better. We always do the “Who chose wisely?” game.
Cornish monkfish, cider velouté, mussels, julienne apple, fennel and shallots. I don’t usually go for fennel – I find it can overpower a dish easily. Not today. The combinations worked very well so I doff my cap to whoever put the dish together. It was beautifully balanced, and the plump Cornish monkfish was all the better for it.
While we had sidestepped the Alpine Specials starter and main, either through circumstance or by choice, when it came to dessert it was at the top of the list. There was no way I was going to be deprived of the Apple & Blackberry Crumble Tart (with cinnamon ice cream and winter berry coulis). No, this was not getting away from me and I have to say it was wonderful. Portion size, presentation, taste, everything about this tart was perfect. I sneakily used a little of the cream set aside for my Americano to add a little more indulgence – not that it needed it.
Ten minutes relaxing with a couple of coffees and our meal was complete.
It’s been a while since we visited Côte and that’s a shame because it always comes up trumps. If you’re in Cardiff city centre or the Bay, give either a try. The staff are lovely too – we always receive a warm welcome, and that’s always heartening on a chilly winter’s day.
Can’t get that Tartiflette out of my head…
10-11 Mill Lane, Cardiff CF10 1FL
029 2034 3810
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