Obviously in this sort of setting French food can only be aped so far, but the restaurant seems to do a nice line in simple but tasty dishes. Eschewing starters (having just missed out on the set menu we weren't in an especially extravagant mood) and the more complicated main courses like sucking pig and linguine with seafood we went for some basic Gallic fare. I had steak frites (£9.95). It wasn't served pink as promised but was impressively tender and juicy for a flattened steak and had a really memorable chargrilled flavour; the accompanying chips were fine matchstick specimens.
My brother's poulet grillé (£10.95) came with a rich helping of gratin potato which meant it wasn't very appropriate for the balmy weather, but it was equally tasty, a generous portion of chicken with plenty of meaty wild mushrooms in a creamy sauce.My chocolate fondant (£5.25) wasn't that different from other versions I've had elsewhere but it was none the worse for that and certainly didn't have that artificial sugary flavour you get sometimes. The ice cream was rather good too. The star dessert, however, was definitely my brother's praline crêpe with caramelised bananas and crème chantilly. The gorgeous praline filling was one of the best things I have tasted in a while; the whole ensemble was decadent but restrained.
I wasn't so happy with the 12.5% automatic service charge for service that was competent and not unfriendly, but not especially warm either. In fact, I'm sure Reading boasts establishments serving more innovative food in more charismatic surroundings (I later learnt that Côte is part of a small chain, albeit one that isn't nearly as ubiquitous as its neighbours). However, we enjoyed our meal there and if you're in the area this looks like a good, reliable choice.
9 The Riverside, Reading RG1 2AG
0118 959 1180