For all its rich history and idyllic landscapes, it may come as a surprise to read that Windsor has been the site of culinary landfill for many years. Surrendering to the town’s proximity to London and catering to tourists and day trippers with stale menus, it has been a sorry state of affairs with the imbalance between a world-famous setting and a poor food scene.
In recent years however, Windsor’s appetite for the je ne sais quoi has been met with a handful of new cafés, delis and hotels that appeal to discerning visitors and residents alike. The town’s latest culinary addition occupies one of the most sought after locations along the River Thames, previously home to a dated establishment of nil style and substance.
Côte Brasserie has reintroduced both the aesthetic character to the once-dilapidated waterfront property as well as a sense of pride for product and service that will be sure to overcome any memory of proprietors past. Located at one end of Eton Bridge, Côte greets visitors to the celebrated college enclave with its sophisticated Continental branding. Since opening its first restaurant in Wimbledon Village in 2007, it has been attracting the hungry and their tastes for good food and atmosphere with classic French cuisine in the informal setting of ticking stripes and plush bistro-style interiors. There are food chains and then there are food chains, and Côte firmly lies in the latter camp with a collection of outposts in prime locations throughout London, the Home Counties and across the country.
Authentic Parisian dishes with modern twists are found on the seasonal menu with just enough choice from starters through to dessert that will avoid any frustrating decision-making. After all, the French enjoy their food just as much as the spectacle – a bad table is hard to come by over the restaurant’s two floors that are styled with dining booths and spacious seating throughout. Its pièce de résistance is the light-filled gallery in the round to the property’s rear, which commands unrivalled views of the stunning backdrop that is Windsor Castle - venue-worthy for any special occasion. Alfresco dining may be enjoyed both on river-level and on the first floor terrace that will certainly strike food envy from river crews and pedestrians on the bridge.
For lunch and dinner start proceedings with a glass of Kir Royale and Charcuterie Board or Pissaladière - warm flatbread with caramelised onions and Reblochon cheese - to share. The Fougasse bread is delicious on its own with butter and sea salt, however be sure to order seconds if followed with Moules Marinières, swimming in flavoursome white wine sauce. Other fish dishes include Calamari, Tuna Niçoise and Salmon for starters and mains. Chargrilled Chicken, Roast Duck Breast, Pork Belly and seven- to ten-ounce Steaks cater for carnivores. Prices range from £4.50 to £7.25 for starters and £8.95 to £17.95, for a ten-ounce steak, for main dishes. These are padded out with a handful of vegetarian options that include Warm Roquefort Salad, Baked Crêpes and Risotto Vert. The popular Plats Rapides that have earned Côte a loyal following are priced at below £10.95 and offer healthy sized portions of Steak Frites, Cod Goujons, Poulet Grillé and the bistro classic Moules Marinières. With additional lunchtime, weekend and early evening specials - £9.95 for two courses and £11.95 for three courses - the menu satisfies all price points. A good selection of reasonably priced wine from a variety of vineyards and beer from France also feature. Dessert is a more standard offering, with in-house favourites such as Crème Brûlee, Crème Caramel and Chocolate Fondant.
The breakfast menu offers a host of French pastries and light options as well as cooked plates from a Full English at £7.50 to a full French at £7.95 of scrambled eggs, boudin noir, bacon and mushrooms served on toasted brioche; eggs à la Benedict, Florentine and Royale as a side or main, make for a delightful trio of choice hard to come by in the town for morning trade and lovers of brunch.
Now a month into its soft launch in August, the charming and attentive waiting staff meets that of any from Côte’s more established network. Parents of Eton College boys will welcome this new arrival as an upgrade to the limited choice on offer along Eton's desolate High Street for the lucrative custom of post-sport games family time on Saturday and Sunday afternoons. Being able to accommodate both small and large groups comfortably, tourists will appreciate a pit stop of good food and drink before exploring neighbouring cultural hotspots in the town and along the river. Côte provides quality food with an attention to style and substance that has been enjoyed by neighbouring areas around Windsor for sometime. Whether a breakfast date, a lunchtime meeting or a business dinner, the restaurant offers the ingredients of a well-tuned, affordable product in an impressive setting: diners in Windsor in search of the je ne sais quoi need look no further.
Breakfast is served from 8am to noon, Monday to Friday and 9am to 1pm on weekends. Opening hours are from 8am to 11pm Monday to Friday and 9am to 11pm on Saturday and 1030pm on Sunday – for reservations visit Côte.
71-72 High Street