Brysons of Keswick – Bowness-on-Windemere
We’re off on another holiday and our first stop was the picturesque town of Bowness-on-Windemere, in the Lake District. The sun was beating down when we arrived, and the little town was mobbed so finding something to eat didn’t seem like an easy task. We passed a few busy looking places before settling on a bakery and tearoom which seemed like it would do the job, especially as we were only looking for a light snack. The tearoom is situated upstairs – a relatively small room filled with less than a dozen tables, most of which were occupied the entire time we were in.
We all selected sandwiches – mum going for the Pork, Stuffing and Apple while dad and I chose the Chicken in Lemon and Pepper Mayonnaise – and ordered a side order of chips to share. We seemed to wait quite a while for the sandwiches, which then arrived without the accompanying chips. After a few minutes, it became clear they weren’t going to arrive and we decided to chase them up – not easy when you can’t grab the attention of any of the staff in the room. After what seemed like an age, we eventually enquired about our chips which arrived soon after.
The chips themselves were actually quite nice – crispy on the outside with fluffy insides – and the portion was big enough for all three of us to have quite a few. The sandwiches were a mixed bag – mum was complimentary of the pork in her sandwich, and there was certainly was plenty of it. The chicken sandwiches were also fine, but neither of us could taste the lemon or much pepper in the mayonnaise, making them a bit unexciting.
The main problem in Brysons was the slow service, but the food was fine and filled a gap before we continued our journey to Liverpool.
Côte Bistro – Liverpool
After 7 on a Friday evening in a busy city is not the best time to be looking for food, but Liverpool has plenty to offer in the restaurant department so we headed into town anyway. Many places were bustling, some even turning people away at the door, when we found ourselves outside Côte Bistro (a sister to the Côte Brasserie chain of restaurants) with a few free tables visible. We headed inside and were sat quickly at table among couples, families and larger groups.
It didn’t take me long to make my decisions after seeing the specials menu, choosing both my starter and main from the small selection. The Artichoke and Goats Cheese Tartine was always going to suck me in, especially with the addition of black olive tapenade. Crusty sourdough bread was topped with goat cheese (although not quite enough for my liking), artichokes and a mound of olive tapenade – delicious! The creaminess of the goat cheese was offset by the tang of the olive tapenade while the artichokes were tender against the crispiness of the bread. Next to me, mum enjoyed a sizeable portion of crispy but tender calamari accompanied by creamy tartare sauce. For his starter, dad chose the French Onion Soup which arrives topped with a giant crouton smothered in Gruyere cheese. While delicious looking (and very tasty, according to dad) it was a bit of a task to eat as the gooey cheese covered the entirety of the soup bowl. A lovely dish, but perhaps not one to eat in public!
My main course, also off the specials menu, was something which I’ve never had before but have wanted to try for a long time – Duck Confit with Salardaise Potatoes. Crispy skin gave way to soft and tender duck meat which pulled apart without effort. The melt-in-the-mouth meat was contrasted by crispy slices of potato, both of which soaked up the delicious veal and thyme jus in which they were sitting. Every mouthful was a joy, and I wouldn’t hesitate to have confit again.
Dad ordered the Roast Pork Belly which he described as “crispy but melty” (real life quote, I kid you not). Perfectly cripsy skin gave way to soft meat which dad enjoyed with cabbage and a creamy potato gratin. Mum also had the potato gratin with her dish, the Roast Duck Breast. The meat was still perfectly pink in the middle and was complimented by the cherry sauce which accompanied it. The only complaint? Most dishes at Côte Bistro don’t come with vegetables, and it cost £2.75 for a relatively small side order of Glazed Carrots to be shared between us. However, even at that, the carrots were perfectly cooked and had a nice buttery glaze on them.
The food in Côte Bistro was all fabulous – every piece of meat was cooked to perfection and the ingredients were ideally matched to compliment each other without being overpowering. Having never eaten in this particular chain before I wasn’t sure what to expect, but I was pleasantly surprised and definitely wouldn’t hesitate to return.