Côte At Home


GIVEN the nuke-proof packaging inside the cardboard Côte crate that the man from DPD has struggled up the drive with, it’s surprising to realise there’s still been some sort of crash, bang, wallop inside. But there has.

We delve deep; pulling out ice packs, unwinding puffy blankets of brown paper, becoming tangled in more long strands, removing filet aux truffles, prawn gratinee and poulet Breton after poulet Breton – like magicians from a very big hat – and find random flecks of food. Uh-oh.

There are some on the French beans, more beside the little ceramic tub of pork rillettes.

It’s from the lamb parmentier, I announce like a poor man’s Inspector Clouseau. Then look for a leak. There isn’t one.

Here’s another pile near the bottom – beside that cardboard basin containing a fougasse. Aha, it’s the crumble. Indeed the plastic container of the crumble aux pomme is torpedoed just beneath the water line.

It’s been leaking little nuggets heavily, but not heavily enough to sink it, or stop me firing it into that oven that’s ticking away at a racy 180 degrees.

Restaurant Quality Food At Home, is Côte’s slogan. Though the first impression of the endless containers with their cardboard sleeves, cellophane seals and glossy photos is, this looks more like supermarket food at home.

Are Côte’s competitors really local restaurants? Or Marks & Sparks? Tesco perhaps? Eek. Answers on a postcard please.

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Answers, too, to this question that immediately springs to mind: is this the way Côte sends its food to its own chain restaurants? Shred packaging then reheat? Umm.

Thing is, the parts of the market that create dishes months in advance in food labs; that are rigorous on ingredients, sourcing and quality control and relentless on consistency, Michelin starred restaurants, say, and McDonald's, are the culinary success stories. So we can’t hold that against Côte.

And back in the day when I had an office round the corner from Côte’s West Nile Street, Glasgow branch it was always handy for a fast, pretty cheap, always cheerful pre-theatre steak frites.

But tonight? At home? Thirty minutes at 180 degrees, 25 minutes at 180, 15 minutes, 10 minutes... on and on the timing instructions go.

Some dishes can be heated in their plastic trays, others have to be removed from them. The fafforama score is bursting from the top of the moanometer. And we may need another oven.

Eventually, we begin eating, to nods of approval, and grunts of surprise that the ridiculously over-packaged fougasse when torn into hunks, spread with a pork rillete that has been made with brandy and thyme, enjoyed with that baked-off garlic bread – is good.

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A large spoon then breaches the browned crust of the lamb parmentier, sinks through a silken potato puree and into juicy minced lamb. So far, not bad.

Uh-oh. Those skinny Côte fries made from bintje potatoes don’t emerge from the oven unscathed, or looking good. Frankly? They let down the poulet Breton with its criss-cross sear marks, smokey undertones, flashes of thyme and lemon and general, umm, okayness. The flavour is good, but these didn’t crisp in their trays and we’re not sold on the texture.

However, not much can go wrong when heating prawn gratinee and not much does; the prawns sit in a bubbling tomato and garlic sauce, croutons sprinkled atop, supplied lemon squeezed over. It’s pretty tame stuff though.

That fillet steak? All you have to do is finish off a pre-flashed hunk of steak in an oven and then serve with gratin potatoes and a truffle and veal jus. There’s little wrong with cooking steak this way and it’s not bad, the gratin being, we reckon, better than Markies, the beans crisp and fresh.

Now, no crumble with the exception of mine and my mother’s is ever going to be thick enough but that aside this one is pretty good, proper straightforward and tart apple beneath.

Scores on the doors? Yeah, not bad.

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Côte At Home

41 West Nile Street (closed)


Ordered from their website

Menu: Côte makes a decent chain-restaurant living serving up classy-ish Bistro dishes including filet aux truffes, poulet Breton, fougasse and skinny frites. They use proper ingredients and have careful sourcing. 4/5

Service: Never had food delivered to the house before by DPD – indicating perhaps the scale and commercialisation of this operation. This is no local restaurant gig, and pretty slick 4/5

Price: Those poulet Breton are £8.50 each, the lamb parmentier £11.95, the filet a salty £14.95. 3/5

Atmosphere: A bit tense in the kitchen unwrapping all this stuff, then unpacking and shuffling dishes in and out a packed oven. 4/5

Food: Certainly had its moments. The oven-baked dishes, the breads, the crumble all worked well. Less success with the steak and chicken. 5/10