Bistro Côté Jardin Niseko

The quiet location in Country Resort perfectly matches the homely feel of Thomas and Yuki’s new French Restaurant, Bistro Côté Jardin Niseko. After having spent much of their life travelling and working in resorts around the world, they have made Niseko their new home, and that’s the first thing you will notice when you walk through the front door, how homely and comfortable their restaurant is. You will also notice just how much of a passion the two of them have for French cuisine.

Thomas and Yuki

Customers are able to choose between à-la-carte ‘suggestion’ menu and an optional four-course menu. They also are open for lunch, offering a simpler two-course meal, galette of the day and other à-la-carte suggestions. They also cater to families with children with a simple yet healthy and delicious kids menu. However, tonight Thomas and Yuki selected a few dishes that best represent the Bistro Côté Jardin Niseko experience.

Scraping the golden-brown cheese off the grilled raclette Happiness in a dish Charcuterie Plate Thomas’s home made bread

The first thing that they wanted to share was Raclette Savoyarde. This iconic alpine dish is a large wheel of cheese that is placed in a stand underneath a grill that roasts the top layer of the cheese. I had never seen anything like this before, but was told that it is very popular in French and Swiss ski resorts. This layer of golden brown delight is periodically scraped off the block and added to the top of some steamed potatoes. The cheese is weighed before and after, and the customer only pays for what they consume (the potatoes are complimentary). This was matched with a Charcuterie Plate featuring a great selection of meats, including salami, coppa, jambon blanc, Bayonne ham and sausage freshly made by Thomas. Thomas also makes their own bread, which honestly has to be tasted to be believed. It was incredible and I was ready to rave about how fantastic Côté Jardin is after this first round.

As food is only one facet of the dining experience, Yuki matched the raclette with a perfect viognier white wine from Pays d’Oc in the south of France and some Perrier with elderflower extract.

Terrine of Vegetables

Second round was the Terrine of Vegetables, which was both a feast for the eyes and the mouth. They have sourced vegetables from Mino Farm at the nearby town of Makkari, including their speciality – lily flower bulb. The vegetables were vibrant, fresh and crispy and were accompanied by home made olive tapenade and sun dried tomatoes.

Parsley and breadcrumb crusted lamb rack on white beans with garlic pudding

Then the mains arrived… Wow. It was lamb rack encrusted with parsley and breadcrumbs on white beans and was simply perfection. The basil and breadcrumb coating was crispy and the lamb was rich and succulent. Accompanying this treat was a small yellow curiosity called a garlic pudding. It was like nothing I had experienced before, and after hearing Thomas explain how many steps are involved in making one, I understand why it was so unusual (and delicious). The pudding was so soft and moist, and full of incredible flavour. This dish was also matched with a Organic Syrah red wine, also from Pays d’Oc, and again was a perfect accompaniment.

Galette – buckwheet soba savoury pancake

Another of their signature dishes is the Galette, which is a savoury crêpe made using buckwheat soba. This particular one had caramelised onion, brie, walnuts and an egg, sunny side up. It was quite an unusual combination of flavours, but one that was very moreish. And, for such a thin dish it was surprisingly filling.

Cidre - French cider

Cidre – French cider

The galette was paired with a French cider, cidre. This cider was great – much sweeter and fruitier than regular cider, and at 2.5% alcohol, it was much less alcoholic, too.

Tarte tatin

Tarte tatin

Iced nougat with red fruit sauce

Iced nougat with red fruit sauce

As a final treat, two deserts were brought out. The first was a tarte tatin with green tea ice-cream on top. The other was a nougat ice-cream with a fantastic rich raspberry sauce. It wasn’t possible to pick a favourite – both were a delight.

A common comment/complaint about French cuisine is how rich it can be, and while it was rich, delicious and a little decadent, it was never overly so. There was no heavy feeling after dinner, just an overwhelming sense of satisfaction and contentment.

Bistro Côté Jardin Niseko may be a little outside of crowded Hirafu restaurant scene, but it is only a five-minute drive for those with their own cars, or a short shuttle ride on the free Country Resort shuttle bus and really is worth the effort to visit, not only for the exceptional French food, but also for the lovely hospitality of Thomas and Yuki.

There have been a lot of superlatives thrown out in this review, but the food and service really do deserve every single word of praise. Do yourself a favour and visit Bistro Côté Jardin Niseko some time soon and bliss out on fine French cuisine.

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