Arriving in any new town always gives me a mixture of anticipation and confusion as I try to find my bearings and get a sense of the local atmosphere. Even though Reims is only 45 minutes by train from Paris, the city is nothing like any arrondissement. From the transit police who offered to give us directions as we stared into a map, to the old lady who told me how appalled she was to see a young girl wearing shorts (it was over 90 F and very humid), there is a small town character in Reims that does not exist in the big city capital.

Côté Cuisine was on several lists as a good place to eat, and it’s location directly across the park from the train station, made it an easy place to find. The open air garden setting on a very muggy evening, made this our first choice for our first meal. “Le Plaisir Commence Ici” (Pleasure Starts Here) is marked on all the wine glasses at Côté Cuisine in Reims, and it was a marvelous introduction to eating my first meal in Reims.

There are several menu options from 32-50 Euros ($36-56 USD), with prices climbing upwards depending on how many drinks you wanted with your meal. I chose the 39 Euro menu of starter, main and one glass of an apéro and one glass of wine. My friend didn’t like the set menu options so she ordered a starter and a main à la carte and just one glass of wine for about the same price. If you reserve with The Fork, you can also get a 20% reduction on 2 courses ordered à la carte. Service in the Summer will be very slow with limited (and temporary) waitstaff, so reserve ahead and be patient, especially if you want the garden seats.

My friend ordered the rabbit terrine and enjoyed it tremendously. It was obviously freshly made and the flavors were nicely married. The portion is very big, so this would be a great starter to share if you are not very hungry.

I love confit gizzard salad and I can only find it in France, so I almost always order it when I see it on the menu, and this version with pomegranate seeds, blueberries, red onions, and radishes tossed in a fruity vinaigrette, was one of the best I’ve eaten. The portion was so generous that I could have easily eaten just this as my meal!

My friend chose one of the specials of the day for her main course, parmentier, a baked meat dish with mashed potatoes on top. She said the meat was a bit dry but the flavor was good. Once again this plate was a large portion, and since this was a hearty dish to eat in the heat and there are no doggie bags in France, make sure you bring your appetite!

I ordered the sardines with a spinach soufflé for my main and unfortunately the sauce could not save the overcooked fish, however, the spinach soufflé was lovely, and after my large salad, I was quite content to just eat my vegetables on this plate.

My friend’s parmentier came with a side salad that was quite lovely, but she didn’t get around to eating it after her very large portions of starter and main.

My menu came with a dessert, and even though we really didn’t have room, we somehow found a place to fit in some summer fruit and sorbet to end the night on a sweet note 🙂