survey result

Summary

£57
   ££
2
Average
2
Average
2
Average
* Based on a three course dinner, half a bottle of wine, coffee, cover charge, service and VAT.

“Top choice when meeting up is more important than the food!” – Richard Caring’s “brisk” modern brasseries are “a cut-above most other chains” and were once again the survey’s most-mentioned national multiple, on the strength of their “very convenient” and often picturesque locations; and an experience generally that’s “safe” and affordable (set menus in particular are very “competitively priced”). That said, even many of its legions of fans don’t suggest that their performance will set the world on fire: “menus offer a range of formulaic dishes, some more wowing than others”, with “basic options such as steak-frites” or burger often touted as the best of the “rather unadventurous” selection. “Service can vary” but usually “problems are swiftly resolved” and staff keep things “speedy” enough.

Summary

£57
   ££
2
Average
2
Average
2
Average
* Based on a three course dinner, half a bottle of wine, coffee, cover charge, service and VAT.

“Top choice when meeting up is more important than the food!” – Richard Caring’s “brisk” modern brasseries are “a cut-above most other chains” and were once again the survey’s most-mentioned national multiple, on the strength of their “very convenient” and often picturesque locations; and an experience generally that’s “safe” and affordable (set menus in particular are very “competitively priced”). That said, even many of its legions of fans don’t suggest that their performance will set the world on fire: “menus offer a range of formulaic dishes, some more wowing than others”, with “basic options such as steak-frites” or burger often touted as the best of the “rather unadventurous” selection. “Service can vary” but usually “problems are swiftly resolved” and staff keep things “speedy” enough.

Summary

£52
   ££
2
Average
2
Average
2
Average
* Based on a three course dinner, half a bottle of wine, coffee, cover charge, service and VAT.

These “accurate imitations of a well-run French brasserie” have become the survey’s most-mentioned chain, on the strength of the huge army of fans who find them an “always-dependable” standby. The “perfectly acceptable” food “is quite good when you factor in the price”: “stick to their basic menus and you get a quite a good-value meal (although stray onto the more expensive dishes and you are better off going elsewhere)”. The wide range of options – including breakfast and prix-fixe pre-theatre – means there’s “plenty of choice for different appetites”. Unlike some chains there’s no effort to make outlets individual: “every branch is cut from the same cloth, but that’s no bad thing”.

Summary

£48
   ££
2
Average
2
Average
2
Average
* Based on a three course dinner, half a bottle of wine, coffee, cover charge, service and VAT.

“You know what you’re going to get” from this ubiquitous French brasserie chain: a formula that’s “classier than Café Rouge’s”, and whose “easy and convenient, if uninspiring” virtues nowadays make it the survey’s most-mentioned multiple. The “classic bistro fare” is “formulaic but edible” (steak-frites is a popular choice) and while service is “hit or miss” and conditions often “noisy”, the “sensible pricing” especially of lunch or pre-theatre deals underpins its massive popularity.

For 30 years we've been curating reviews of the UK's most notable restaurant. In a typical year, diners submit over 50,000 reviews to create the most authoritative restaurant guide in the UK. Each year, the guide is re-written from scratch based on this survey (although for the 2021 edition, reviews are little changed from 2020 as no survey could run for that year).

Have you eaten at Côte?

Restaurant details

Highchair, Menu
Yes
No dress code
94

Harden's says...

Côte SW19

From part of the team that built Strada, the Wimbledon prototype of a Gallic bistro chain; unlike most press reviewers, we found standards generally unimpressive.


One of the big fears of the restaurant critical world is just not 'getting' it. You go along to a place that's been unanimously well reviewed - in respectable publications as diverse as Time Out and the FT - and you just can't see what all the fuss is about. Well, this is just such a place. In fact, we couldn't see why this new Wimbledon bistro was causing any excitement at all.


It can't be the décor. The local friends with whom we dined told us that - quite sensibly, for a less-expensive place - the new régime had spent little money on improving the (rather suburban, low-ceilinged and noisy) interior bequeathed by the previous régime. Forget candlelit charm: this is not a place for a romantic date.


Service, too, was unremarkable - friendly and trying hard, undoubtedly, but often not there when you wanted them. No reason not to go, but no reason to go either.


So it must be the food? Unfortunately, we'd have to perjure ourselves to say we found anything worthy of a glowing write-up. The aim is Gallic bistro classics. Bread was OK, but not your proper baguette - can that really be so hard to find? - and you had to ask for it. A terrine was fine but' well just fine really, and would have benefitted from some toast to go with it. A savoury pancake seemed to have 'sat' at the pass. Chips were crisp but not tasting of much. A chocolate mousse looked unappetising' which proved to be the case. Only the steak-eaters in the party seemed to have anything to crow about.


On our visit, then, this is no more than a potentially handy place, perhaps worth considering if you should find yourself in the area. Its management, however, is largely drawn from the people who created and grew the Strada concept (prior to its sale by Richard Caring earlier this year), so it would be surprising if the first of the Côtes is also the last.


See the Review
Opening hours

Last orders: 11 pm, Sun 10.30 pm

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