Sloane Square has always been the haunt of the rich and famous and synonymous with aristocracy or at least, that’s what we perceive this sophisticated part of London to be.
People who live here are often called “Sloane Rangers” and girls were referred to as “Sloanies”; Diana Princess of Wales when she was Lady Di was the perfect conduit. As a teen in the eighties, I remember coming here to marvel at the Punks who used to hang around King’s Road, I was more impressed by their outrageous and outlandish hairdo’s than the shopping however, King’s Road had some affordable and pretty cool shops and I felt really grown up coming to Sloane Square.
Sloane Square sits in the heart of the Royal Borough of Kensington & Chelsea; Belgravia and Knightsbridge are just around the corner. It’s now a melting pot of culture, shopping and dining with a variety of high-end shops, art galleries and beautiful parks. Every self-respecting fashionista knows it’s where to come for niche and flagship global brands A current 24-month transformation will conclude in 2024 to include over 100 trees, extensive beds of flowers and shrubs. Measures to reduce traffic is high on the agenda as is prioritising pedestrians.
More recently, Sloane Square’s annual “Summer in Sloane Square” is making this classy neighbourhood accessible to everyone who wants to come down and have a good time. The Square is the al fresco destination of the summer season with pop-ups such as Côte Brasserie, The Botanist and The Royal Court Theatre coming together to provide entertainment, gorgeous food and fabulous cocktails.
With that in mind, a couple of weekends ago, my family and I decided to do just that and take the tube to Sloane Square but rather than enjoy what was on offer in the Square, we headed to Côte’s permanent fixture for a lazy Sunday afternoon lunch.
Côte Brasserie is a casual dining spot modelled on the bistros and brasseries of Paris with the same brass fittings, large mirrors and woven bistro chairs on the small outside terrace. The focus is on fresh seasonal ingredients recreating some of France’s most popular dishes we’ve grown to love. With classics such as Moules Marinière, Poulet Breton and Steak Frites, they’re also serving summer specials featuring fruity spritz cocktails, vibrant starters and a rosé wine flight. Three popular French rosé wines are paired with the starter, main and dessert, it’s such a wonderful addition to Côte’s summer menu and being a rose wine lover, naturally I chose the wine flight.
As we settled down to enjoy some seasonal French fare, we were met with our host who offered us some water for the table and some bread and olives to nibble on until our drinks arrived.
My husband had a Meteor lager while I chose the Fleur de Rose Spritz which was made using one of my favourite liqueurs, the St-Germain Elderflower liqueur and the classic French Rosé, Côte de Provence which was topped with fruity Fever Tree raspberry & orange blossom soda and pretty rose petals and raspberries, it’s the perfect summer fizz. For those seeking non-alcoholic alternatives there is lots to choose from including cold pressed juices, some exciting soft drinks and mocktails. My daughter chose the Jardin Fizz which uses elderflower but this time a non-alcoholic cordial version with fragrant mint, green tea and plain soda adding the fizz element.
As I have a penchant for French bread, you’ll forgive me for being a bit critical here because I consider myself a bit of an aficionado when it comes this moorish carb. I’m super lucky that my blog takes me to Paris several times a year and the French know how to make bread! I have yet to taste a proper French baguette over here, so the bread did fall short of my very high expectations as it does in most restaurants. But the butter was lovely and creamy and let’s be clear, we weren’t here just for the bread.
We were all really excited to try as much as we could from the menu, I was keen to try something from the French Classics and the new Summer Menu. For starters, I chose the Charentais Melon which was served with Bayonne ham, my favourite salad leaf, rocket and a cabernet sauvignon vinaigrette. It’s a light and simple starter and just perfect on a summer’s day; the melon was juicy and very ripe thus very fragrant.
My daughter chose calamari; we all adore calamari when we’re on holiday and there’s several ways of cooking it. Lightly dusted in seasoned flour, deep fried with lots of lemon is usually how they serve it in the Mediterranean and how I like to make it at home. Côte Brasserie serve theirs breadcrumbed with a Provencal mayonnaise which was both zingy and spicy, we all agreed that we preferred calamari to be served the Mediterranean way, but Côte’s interpretation is equally tasty, just not sure that it’s very classically French.
My husband meanwhile chose a salad but from the standard menu, Salad Rachel which showcases a couple of Provencal vegetables. The humble artichoke and French bean are really elevated in this salad with the addition of a silky truffle mayonnaise, the truffle adding a lovely earthiness. Mangetout, and savoury croutes are the remaining ingredients, everything worked in harmony and my husband really loved it.
Côte Brasserie feature some stand out traditioanl main dishes, I wanted to try something from the Classic menu which includes Beef Bourguignon and Moules Frites. My other favourite is Confit of Duck (Confit de Canard) which is such a French icon and is featured in most all French bistros and brasseries in France but sadly not in Côte’s, perhaps in the winter menu though.
I chose the Poulet Breton – corn-fed chicken “responsibly reared in Northern France”; it’s a half-marinated chicken with watercress and my absolute guilty pleasure, Gratin Dauphinois Potatoes. You get to pick which sauce you want with the chicken and there are many to choose from including garlic butter, wild mushroom, peppercorn and Béarnaise. I chose the Béarnaise because together with the potato dauphinois, it’s a marriage made in heaven. It was all utterly divine, and I didn’t care about the calories, everyone deserves to indulge when Dauphinoise Potatoes are on the menu.
My daughter chose the classic Côte Burger and swapped traditional frites for truffle fries which are becoming really popular now. The burger was cooked perfectly, really tender and juicy, it came with with the melting French cheese, Reblochon, unctuous and creamy truffle mayonnaise, the more truffle the better! and caramelised red onion in a brioche bun, safe to say it was yummy, she was in burger heaven.
I felt my husband made an unusual choice because he wasn’t very hungry, but it was so light and summery, he had the Tomato Tarte Fine which was a vegetarian dish. I hoped he was going to go for the moules as I planned to pinch a few mussels! The tarte fine is a savoury take on the apple tarte tatin however, rather than what I thought would be confit tomatoes, it was puff pastry with tapenade, caramelised onion and goats cheese cream with fresh thinly sliced fresh tomatoes. It was something different and I am all for getting out of your comfort zone.
The best part is always dessert and what I always look forward to when eating out. Again, keen to have something from Côte’s summer menu, I chose the Rosé Glace which was refreshing basil infused jelly with a layer of lemon créme fraiche topped with Anciens Temps Rosé granita.
Just to mention the Rosé wine flight, I chose the “Love” by Château Léoube, Côte de Provence with my starter, the Côte de Provence, AOP Roubertas for my main and the Anceiens Temps Rosé with my dessert. Each wine measurement is 100ml just so you don’t walk out too tipsy! it equates to just over half a bottle of wine.
They complemented each dish and were a joy to drink. My daughter chose Chocolate Tart with vanilla ice cream and raspberries which was rich and very chocolatey, the ice cream was the perfect partner to cut through the deep chocolate mousse-like tart. She couldn’t finish it all, so naturally I dived in, who doesn’t love chocolate and it would have been unthinkable to let it go to waste.
My husband is not really a dessert fan, why? I honestly couldn’t answer that, but he is partial to a cheese board.
We chose well; everything on Côte’s menu is super delicious and though not everything is classically French, it gives you a good idea of what French food is all about using responsibly sourced Mediterranean ingredients cooked well. The beauty of coming to Sloane Square is definitely the fun and vibrant Summer in the Square because when the sun is shining, there’s nowhere better to be. We had a wonderful afternoon at Côte Brasserie and would certainly return.
Côte Brasserie have their permanent restaurant on Sloane Square as well as their pop-up plus lots of other branches around the country. The menu at Côte changes seasonally and the food is expertly cooked and presented, the service is great too. There is also a large bar area serving exciting cocktails, just the place to be on a Friday or Saturday night.
We were invited guests and our experience was complimentary.
7-12 Sloane Square, London SW1W 8EG
Click below to view Côte’s menu