The concept at Côté Rue is simple enough – fresh ingredients direct from the market concocted into a simple seasonal menu that is presented as a tasting menu. You don’t get to choose what you eat – so prudes should stay away – but for those who enjoy culinary experimentation and food served just as the chef(s) intended, Côté Rue is perfect. The beautifully presented restaurant sits on a rather unassuming little road called Rue Paul Louis Lande, which is just across from a gritty sex shop and a 10 minute or so walk away from the Cathédrale Saint-André. The open plan interior is beautiful with white walls adorned with modern art, a ceiling crowned with fine mouldings and the room occupied by both the dining area and the open kitchen – making it possible to see each dish take form and come to life.
The menu is 7 courses long and explores a delightful trail of French classics that are artfully blended with European and Asian influences to create a collection of flavours that is both familiar and unexpected, light and yet bold. The wine list is extensive and accessible and of course it’s possible to pair each dish with a specific wine, but we paired the lot with a very good yet forgettable crisp white from the Loire Valley.
The amuse bouche on the night was a generous portion of bacon and 12 month-old comte-topped onion soup with a side of poached egg and parmesan. The flavours were impeccable, well defined and tastefully orchestrated – and was perhaps one of the more indulgent dishes of the night.
Following that, a crab-stuffed ravioli paired with roasted hazelnuts and truffles and finished at the table with a surprising dribble of soy sauce – which gave the dish an added depth and propped up the somewhat bland taste of the crab. Afterwards a minimal plate of St. Jacques paired with 2 contrasting servings of pumpkin. One crispy, the other pureed with the delightful addition of turmeric which lent the whole dish a distinctly autumnal flavour, which in turn contrasted with the summery addition of a bergamot sauce.
The meat dish arrived in the form of a small cutlet of chicken which was wrapped in bacon and stuffed with foie gras. The gravy was a decadent blend of chicken and genepi – while on the side a colourful selection of blue berries, red currants, beetroot, brussels sprout leaves and gnocchi brought a stunning crescendo of flavours that builds with each mouthful. The chicken was cooked to perfection and while the sides were welcome it was the Génépi and chicken gravy that stole the show, with the Génépi adding a welcome hint of the Savoie and a reminder of our time spent perusing the restaurants of Annecy.
Afterwards the surprisingly light Brie foam was accompanied with salted beetroot and vanilla and gave me a new appreciation for the cheese and its potential as a dessert cheese, while the other dessert offered was a mandarin sorbet with thyme and lemon which was served in a bed of raw chocolate. My wife found it rather bland and as expected with the raw chocolate a diversion at best. Next up was a poached pear with white chocolate mouse and violet leaves, which while tasty enough, lacked the intrigue and creativity of earlier courses. The final course on the menu, the “Mignardises”, or treats if you prefer was a small but perfectly acceptable round of chocolate truffles and, well… assorted treats.
While the concept at Côté Rue might not appeal to everyone, the refined and highly personal seasonal menu, eccentricity of what seem like slightly everyday dishes, and bold contrasts in colour and flavour should appease anyone who has a taste for fine cuisine, with a delicate, yet daringly creative edge.
Côté Rue, 14 Rue Paul Louis Lande, 33000 Bordeaux.