The Boy and I found ourselves out and about for lunch recently. We fancied something relatively quick and tasty, but wanted a change from pub grub. Côte Brasserie Shrewsbury caught my eye because they have a very keenly priced lunch menu. The building has intrigued me since we came to Shrewsbury and I thought it would be quite a salubrious place to dine.
You can’t really argue with £15 for a two course lunch menu. I had a quick skim of the menu before we went in and my expectations were sort of set at the Bistro Pierre kind of mark. (Read my review of the Leicester location from waaaay back in 2012 on my sister blog here. Although to be fair, their early evening cost £14 back then, so I expect it will be significantly more today.) So I was expecting a slightly higher end chain dining experience, with a French feel.
I was right about the presentation of the restaurant. It is absolutely pristine; light, airy and contemporary to the eye. Set in a listed building of multiple phases, there are not huge nods to the building’s heritage within, which is fine. But equally, I can’t say it feels particularly French either. It is the decor of the amorphous and ubiquitous “modern restaurant”. What it lacks in character, it does make up in comfort though, and I was at ease and happy to eat there.
To start I went with the charcuterie board. It was pleasant enough – moderate quality meats with too much butter and not enough toast. Plenty of cornichons though, which The Boy saved to enjoy with his beer in between courses, but the waitress would later whisk away, sadly. Nothing at all offensive about that dish though. Same for The Boy’s pear and walnut salad. Enjoyable enough. Certainly very good value at the price we were paying.
On to our mains then, and chicken breast for me with a mushroom and tarragon sauce. The chicken was thinly butterflied but still relatively moist. The Boy opted for minute steak. This was a bit over-cooked on the outside but better in the middle, helped along by a generous pat of butter. Both came with fries and a small pile of rocket. Again, they were both absolutely fine, but I think my expectations from Bistro Pierre were coming in. It didn’t quite feel like a full meal. We needed some vegetables I think to make these wafer-thin cuts of meat feel a little less lost.
Alongside I had a glass of Muscadet Sevre et Maine Sur Lie. A wine style I love, this fruity and crisp white had the slight richness of body I was hoping for and was the best part of my meal. The Boy had a Meteor session IPA which apparently the French brewery makes exclusively for this chain. Except they don’t, it just says it on the menu. It’s quite clearly listed as part of Meteor’s range on their website. Meteor isn’t particularly common in the UK so I’ll let them off.
The drinks were probably the highlight of the whole experience, which is probably for the best since they cost us pretty much the same as a third diner at our table would have. And they weren’t particularly excruciatingly priced. I think the whole experience just felt a bit lacklustre to me. It was fine, but I probably should have gone for the pub lunch and enjoyed a cracking pie for £15 instead.
Not the GOAT then, but certainly a nice place to take your nan to. Which it looked like most of the other tables there were doing that day. If you like style over substance and you aren’t mad hungry then why not? If you want to experience even a petit peu of authentic French dining, then I’d probably leave it. Bof.
They had no idea who we were and we paid for our meal in full. I’m afraid as always my opinions are my own. You’re just going to have to get used to it.