London Theatreland is renowned for its pre-performance dinners and its innovative West End plays. But would the very same concept work here in Devon? Last week, we were invited along to an evening at Cote Brasserie & Vue Cinema to see for ourselves…
Words by Collette
The Royal Shakespeare Company has teamed up with popular brasserie chain Cote to offer theatregoers in the West Country an opportunity to enjoy a pre-theatre meal followed by live screenings of their newest Shakespeare adaptations. We were excited to be asked along last week to try dinner at Cote Brasserie in Cathedral Yard, followed by a live streaming of Romeo & Juliet over at Exeter’s VUE cinema.
Upon our arrival at Exeter Cote, we were whisked upstairs to the recently opened third floor and seated at a table overlooking the historical cathedral yard. Two refreshing glasses of Pampelle Spritz followed shortly after; delivered to our table by Assistant Manager Dan, who proved to be a warm and attentive host throughout our evening. These aperitifs were a sweet combination of sparkling wine along with natural botanicals, zingy citrus peel, and ruby red grapefruit. They were just what the doctor ordered on a balmy summers evening and an excellent way to kick off festivities.
During our visit, we dined from the Lunch/Early Evening Menu, which is available Monday-Friday (12 noon to 7 pm). This offers two courses for £11.50 or three courses for £13.50, which we think is amazing value by any standard.
To start, we opted for Roasted Vine-Ripened Tomato Soup (served hot or cold) and an Artichoke Salad, which contained marinated artichoke hearts, cherry tomatoes, black olives and Roquefort cheese. When the food arrived, we were pleased to find that the plates looked fresh and colourful, and the portions were very generous.
The soup was thick and velvety, while the bread basket contained plenty of crisp, fresh slices of baguette. Meanwhile, my salad was a nice balance of tart Roquefort and sweet tomatoes, alongside peppery watercress, soft artichokes and a drizzle of mustard dressing. In all honesty, we weren’t sure what quality to expect from a value lunchtime/early evening menu, but we were genuinely impressed by our starters.
For his main course, my partner went for Breaded Chicken. This was a pan-roasted breaded chicken breast with provençal sauce, rocket, and lemon. He also chose a couple of sides, including creamed spinach and a tomato salad.
It’s fair to say he loved this dish and went so far as to describe it as divine. Having tried a forkful myself, I have to agree. The chicken breast melted like butter and the crispy coating was nice and golden. The creamed spinach was also delicious and Dan explained that it was actually Pernod that gave the dish an added ‘ooh factor’ (who’d have thought?).
I chose the Salad D’ETE for my own main: a flavoursome plate of food, containing charentais melon, mozzarella, jambon de savoie, breton tomatoes and pesto dressing. Not only was this very tasty, but frankly it was a midsummer’s night dream. Vibrant, light and fresh, with just enough sweet and sharp notes.
All’s Well That Ends Well
Throughout our meal, Dan had been keeping an eye on the time for us and because I had been preoccupied with snapping photos of my food, time was really ticking by. As a result, my partner and I ended up sharing a creme caramel to finish off our meal. I wish very much that I could have savoured a whole one of these to myself, but alas I had to make do with an extra spoon. Perhaps next time I’ll get to enjoy my own…
Romeo & Juliet at Vue Cinema
Our tickets to Rome & Juliet were ready and waiting for us at the box office when we arrived at Vue Cinema and we took our seats with high hopes for the rest of the evening. Having watched a number of Shakespearean plays before, we were both intrigued to find out how this modern adaptation of a classic love story would pan out.
I must admit, I usually find the first ten minutes or so of Shakespeare quite mind-boggling and it usually takes me this long to acclimatize to the difference in language. However, I was totally enthralled by this RSC adaptation. The young cast performed a flawless show and the classic love story transitioned really well into the 21st century. The modern interpretation really highlighted the central conflict of the play and the chemistry between the two pivotal roles was evident.
Cote Brasserie is keen to bring the pre-theatre dining experience to Exeter and beyond, and we certainly believe there’s a South West market for it. We had a first-rate meal during our visit to Cote and we see no reason why London should have the monopoly over theatre experiences. The whole evening, from start to finish was great fun, and we are already planning on booking our next experience in September.
For a list of upcoming live screenings, click here.
To book your next meal at Cote Brasserie, visit their website.