In the last few reviews, I have been eating in restaurants that are part of a chain.

You might recollect from a previous article, that I highlighted one of the numerous concerns in developing a successful chain is to provide a consistent product in terms of, food, wines, service and environment.

The successful identity as to a ‘Brand Description,’ requires not just detailed planning and establishment of a site criteria, levels of passing foot traffic etc., but an in-depth training programme.

This is to not simply to ensure consistency of products and service but, to offer a career path for promotion of staff within the chain. One of the reasons for a large degree of centralised purchasing, is not just about cost but creating a recognised product specification, that is obtainable throughout the UK.

The use of ‘special dishes’ enables the seasonality of time and products to widen the customer’s choice. It can also enable senior Chefs’ with flair, the  opportunity to develop new dishes that could then be taken up, throughout their Branches.

What needs to be avoided and is more and more becoming an issue, is the buying in of completed or nearly completed dishes. The employment of Food Assemblers not Chefs, a danger to be avoided.

Many dishes cannot to any real extent or benefit be processed, Some chains focus too much on cheapness, rather than quality.

There is a market for this, whether my Editor would wish me to review such outlets time will tell. Out of my own interest I recently ate in two such places, it was an experience I would with to avoid.

Salisbury Journal: Côte Brasserie, St Thomas's Square, Salisbury

Di and I went to the Cote Brasserie. It was teaming, as were other places in town.

If restaurants cannot make money at Christmas, they’ll never make money! I know the Cote in Salisbury and have also visited other branches in Oxford, Newbury and London.

We were asked to come earlier than we would have liked to avoid a large party who otherwise would increase the demand from the kitchen.

This was good management; it is important that the Restaurant Manager understands how they can assist in pacing the demand on the kitchen.


There was a choice of six starters priced from £3.95 to £9.75. This being Christmas additional choices were available on the Cote’s Seasonal Menus.

My guest chose Smoked Salmon Croquettes, with pepper oil. These looked great, light golden colour with a delicate pink sauce. 

Salisbury Journal: Smoked Salmon CroquettesSmoked Salmon Croquettes (Image: Peter Hime)

Sadly, they did not live up to their eye appeal. Insufficient smoked salmon in the croquettes and rather bland in flavour and sauce.

At £5.95 more could have been charged with greater ingredients. Score 7

I had a delightful and rich, French Onion Soup £7.95, if they had charged that for the Croquettes that dish could have been great. 

My soup was described as Rustic with Compte croutes. It was luscious, with wonderful stingy cheese and croutes. Score 8.5

Salisbury Journal: French Onion SoupFrench Onion Soup (Image: Peter Hime)

Main Course A choice of ten from £14.75 to £29.50 Plus a potentially wonderful Cote de Boeuf at a weight of 22 0z [623gms] for two hungry people!

Di chose the Boeuf Bourguignon £18.50 A French Classic that did not quite make the grade.6 Hour slow cooked beef.

Mushrooms, bacon lardons with potato puree and French streaky bacon. The portion I tried had a hard sinewy piece in my beef, it lacked the unconscious sauce normally associated with this dish. Score 6.5

Salisbury Journal: Beef Bourguignon

I chose the Bretton Fish Stew, £17.75 Mussels, prawns, squid and sea bream, in a tomato, white wine and chilli sauce with toasted sour dough baguette. A winner really full of flavour, well cooked onions and spicey.  The portion was generous.

Salisbury Journal: Fish StewFish Stew (Image: Peter Hime)

Score a well deserved 9  I will bring Di back and we will both have the Bretton Fish Stew!


A choice of four priced from £6.25 to 7.75  There is also the option for a great Cheese Board £7.75  We chose the Spiced Crème Brulee £7.75

The Brulee was excellent, but we would have liked more spice. Score 7.5


As one would expect in a French orientated restaurant there is a comprehensive Wine List of only French wines. They identify their favourite with a Diamond classification. 

These start at a price for a bottle, as low as £22.20, for a modest Rose from the Languedoc. There is no question that this List is exceptional, as it really does cater for everyone.

I have eaten here before and had some excellent meals, the staff are attentive and well trained. Will, short Willfred, was as with all the staff relaxed and knowledgeable. I believe that the Cote Brasserie chain, is one of the best manged ones in the UK.

It is always worth a visit.

Overall Score

This restaurant is usually a steady 8.5. because of a couple of disappointing dishes our score on this visit was 7.5.

I should add I am not a shareholder and have no professional connection with the company. It would be lovely if our readers would tell us of their impressions of Salisbury’s Cote Brasserie.