Just before Christmas, I was invited to go along to review the new Côte Brasserie French restaurant in Earl Street, Maidstone.
New-ish at least; it’s been there two months or so.
I took my friend Lizzie, and we decided to go on Friday, to bridge that weird time between Christmas and New Year when everyone is out of money and confused about what day it is and before all the good intentions kick in.
Côte is a chain of restaurants that I’m familiar with, with branches in nearby Tunbridge Wells and Sevenoaks as well as one at Bluewater.
Their menu consists of authentic French classic dishes ‘inspired by the brasseries of Paris’, and they are particularly well known for their moules and steaks.
The best steak I have ever eaten was in a restaurant in Paris.
We had a weekend away to celebrate Lizzie’s birthday, and on the second night we got dressed up and wandered into central Paris trying to find somewhere a bit fancy to eat.
And we wandered.
Until we had to admit that we were totally lost.
After walking past many, many restaurants which were too busy, too empty, too French, not French enough, we stumbled across a restaurant down a little side street which had a short queue outside, and being about to keel over from exhaustion and hunger we went in.
Oh, my word.
I’d never had anything that good in my mouth before. It changed my outlook on steak from ‘take it or leave it’ to a hands-down favourite when done exactly how I like it; medium-rare with emphasis on the rare, tender and served with delicious french fries.
Could Côte Brasserie in Kentish Maidstone live up to our fabulous little Parisian find?
In fact given it’s quite far from France, could it even live up to the two other French restaurants within striking distance?
Côte Brasserie Maidstone is fairly large, occupying the units previously used by the Oxfam shop and whatever used to be next to it (which handily has a big lorry parked in front of it on Google maps and the fact I can’t remember is driving me mad).
Because it’s new, the decor is immaculate and thought has been put into the layout; not too cramped, although when we went, there weren’t that many other people there because of the time of year I’d guess.
The menu at Côte Brasserie is varied, with something for everyone.
Well, possibly not vegans, but I am not sure that a sensible vegan would opt for French cuisine.
But if you like fish, meat or cheese then you’ll be happy with the choices.
They offer some really good value ‘Plats Rapides’ if you’re in a hurry or on a budget; for between £12 and £13 you can have a minute steak, chicken breast or moules. There is a set lunch and early evening menu which offers great value, and of course some chef’s specials to peruse.
Upon arrival, we were seated and had some olives and bread; sliced French bread for me, and gluten free for Lizzie.
I opted for moules marinères (mussels) to start.
The moules were beautifully cooked in a cream and white wine sauce with diced shallots; if you order them then you absolutely need bread to mop up the sauce as it’s the best bit!
Meanwhile, Lizzie went with the special; seared scallops.
The scallops came with salad and well cooked bacon lardons; apparently it was delicious.
There is an excellent French wine list too with 35 choices; we decided to split a bottle of Sancerre white wine because it really is lovely, and we weren’t disappointed.
For my main course, I went with the fillet steak, meanwhile she went with sirloin.
Both were served with frites (very crunchy and well seasoned French fries), watercress and optional steak sauce; she had Bearnaise while I had Roquefort butter.
We each had a small glass of house red wine to go with our steaks.
The steaks were amazing.
Cooked to perfection and extremely tender. Pink and red on the inside; just how I wanted it. Amazing.
Honestly I don’t know how they do it, but I can never get a steak cooked like that much to my annoyance.
The frites were also really tasty and more-ish, and the whole lot paired with the house wine – which was also surprisingly decent – went down very well indeed.
I wasn’t sure that I’d manage a dessert, so we had a little break, drank a little more wine, and chatted.
When in France and all that.
After a short interlude, we were easily persuaded to go for something sweet.
Lizzie chose off the gluten-free menu which had a surprising amount of choice.
She had the creme caramel and I went for a lemon tart.
Both were gone in minutes. We finished off with a dessert wine, and a mint tea.
I’d recommend Côte Brasserie in a heartbeat.
We both said that if we returned, which we undoubtedly will, that we’d both order the same all over again.
It was a beautiful, delicious meal and we both felt absolutely full and satisfied.
After a heavy meal I’m often kept up with indigestion (the fun part of getting old), but I actually had a brilliant night’s sleep and woke up the next day still feeling full, but not at all unwell which is amazing given the amount of delicious French vino we also put away!
The atmosphere was lovely; a well placed curtain meant that we could chat without feeling overheard or overlooked and the waiting staff were welcoming and helpful; they didn’t hassle us and neither was it hard to catch their attention.
It was the perfect place to have a nice child-free catch up.
Thank you so much to Côte Brasserie in Maidstone for having us.
We were gifted the meal in exchange for this review but the words and pictures are mine.