Part of a mini-chain owned by Richard Caring, the branch of Cote in Chiswick has taken over the long-vacant Texas Cantina premises and greatly improved appearances. Cote has an attractive, classic bistro feel to the décor, with a few tables in the open air. The menu is very appealing, with lots of popular classic dishes. The wine list was all French, starting at £13.95. Saumur la Cabriole 2008 was £17.50 compared to a retail price of around £8, the pleasant Pouilly Fuisse Saumaize-Michelin 2008 was £32.95 for a wine that costs around £19 in the shops, while Chateau Talbot 2006 was £69 for a wine that costs £29 to buy.
A trio of small scallops (£7.50) was served with a salad of frisee lettuce, bacon lardons and warm puy lentils, with a tomato and garlic dressing. The scallops had not been properly prepared, still having the hard muscle that should be discarded, and moreover were significantly overcooked, though the salad items were OK (0/10).
Salmon fishcakes (£10.50) were served on a bed of baby spinach, with dill and a wholegrain mustard sauce; there was plenty of salmon in the mix, and the texture was fine; very pleasant (2/10).
Corn-fed Breton chicken (£9.95) was cooked too long, resulting in the meat being dried out. This was served with a “garlic butter sauce” that was actually a little dish of fridge-cold garlic butter that was so cold it was still a solid piece after I had finished eating; I even tried putting a little on top of the hot chicken, and it still didn’t melt (0/10).
On the side, gratin dauphinoise was actually quite good, the potato slices cooked through properly, perhaps lacking in cheese flavour but not bad at all (2/10). Matchstick chips were pleasant if under-seasoned (2/10). A side order of carrots was cooked very well indeed, with good flavour and texture (4/10).
Apple tarte fine arrived so under-cooked that when I cut it open and touched the apple it was still completely cold; I am not going to score this – it should never have left the kitchen. Bizarrely, after all these issues, crème caramel was very good (comfortably 3/10), with nice texture.
Service on this busy night was good, despite the restaurant being at capacity, with tables being turned. The bill came to £44 a head, with one of the better wines. This was an odd meal, with three dishes with problems, yet also with some perfectly pleasant food; it was almost as if two different kitchens were operating. This inconsistency did not seem to trouble the locals, given the completely full restaurant, with potential diners being turned away at the door.