Pinellas County’s hidden gem, nestled in the heart of Gulfport Florida’s Waterfront Art District. This intimate and quaint restaurant has been serving the finest in French and Continental cuisine in a cozy country French atmosphere for over 40 years.
A third generation business. La Cote Basque is family operated throughout, from ownership to service staff. Nationally award winning food and impeccable service have attracted locals and national celebrities alike.
Be transported back in time to turn-of-the-century Paris, France, at La Cote Basque Winehouse. Located in the heart of Gulfport’s historic art district, this extraordinary restaurant’s exterior reveals few clues as to what is in store for the culinary explorer, or of the visually intriguing interior with hand-painted wall murals and intimate dining areas with tables draped in linen nestled behind velvet and lace curtains.
“It is a quiet, intimate restaurant where we go to enjoy a romantic diner for two. The food is always good, and their are specials every evening,” commented one frequent La Cote Basque guest.
La Cote Basque Winehouse is the culmination of three generations of chefs and restaurateurs. Patriarch, Ernest Frohme, a graduate of the Le Cordon Blue Culinary Arts School of Paris, founded the eatery in 1972. In the mid-80s, daughters Carmen and Simone took over the kitchen. Today their children and life-long friends join them to help run the establishment.
For 40 years, the La Cote Basque continental menu and recipes have remained nearly the same as when Ernest first opened the restaurant. You will still find entrées such as goose liver pate, escargot, frog legs, Weiner Schnitzel and Beef Wellington.
All entrées at La Cote Basque are served with their signature sourdough bread, salad topped with Ernest’s secret recipe salad dressing, three vegetables and potatoes or rice.
La Cote Basque’s early bird specials are from 4pm to 6:30pm and range in price from $8.95 to $14.95. Savory options include Sauerbraten, Flounder Francais, Roasted Chicken Breast, Weiner Schnitzel, Bratwurst with Sauerkraut, Veal Francais, Frog Legs, Veal Spinada, Chicken Marsala, Spaghetti with Meatballs and Lasagna.
Tantalizing diner menu entrees – to name just a few – are Veal Cordon Bleu, Veau Ou Poulet Picatta, Schnitzel Holstein, Caneton Roti’ A la Sheree, Cotelettes D’ Agneau Pprovencale and Crevette’ A La Costa Brava. Prices range from a modest $16.95 to $27.95.
Pair your diner with a great wine. Le Grand Black Sheep Pinot Noir – La Cote Basque house wine – is an untraditional blend from traditional French varietals. The fruit is harvested from select vineyards in Minervois and Carcassone, the diverse soils and mild Mediterranean climate provide ideal growing conditions for producing an outstanding wine. Other wine options include Kir, Chardonnay, Pinot Grigio, Riesling, Zinfandel, Merlot, Cabernet, Chianti, Sangria and Champagne.
Sometimes only a great beer will compliment an entrée and La Cote Basque has a great selection of domestic beer and imported beers to choose from – Budweiser, Michelob, Amberbock, Yuengling, Sam Adams, Peroni, Stella Artois, Newcastle, Guiness, Amstel Light, Corona, Heineken, Becks and Warsteiner.
Finish your dinner with a scrumptious selection of desserts and a specialty coffee with liquor.
For an unforgettable dining experience go to La Cote Basque Winehouse and don’t be in a hurry – you are going to want to savor each and every flavor, plus the old world charm and ambiance.
La Cote Basque Winehouse has the Swiss Room available for private luncheons and parties. Located in the heart of Gulfport’s historic art district at 3104 Beach Blvd S., Gulfport, 727-321-6888.
Dining at La Cote Basque Winehouse is like going to your grandmother’s house for supper – if you grandmother is a European aristocrat and classically train chef.
From the moment you enter this Gulfport restaurant’s low-lit foyer leading to even more dimly lit intimate dining areas known by names like the “Swiss Room” and the “French Room”, it’s like escaping into another world. This world is Austria, Germany, Switzerland, and France of the 1930’s, between the Wars, when generations would share meals served on fine china using sterling silver utensils and linen napkins.
Family was everything then, and it still is at La Cote Basque. Three generations run the restaurant founded by the family patriarch, Ernest, in 1972.
Little more than the light bulbs have been changed in the ensuing four decades at this almost ecclesiastical eatery adorned with hand-painted murals, red velvet drapes, yellowing lace curtains, and religious artifacts.
Ernest was a Le Cordon Bleu-trained chef in the German military and won the heart of Swiss Army Knife heiress Theresa, whose family frowned upon the union. So the couple made their way to America via Canada and settled here, opening La Cote Basque in a quaint space that had been a bakery and bait shack.
The classic Continental menu Ernest created has stayed almost entirely intact, albeit for the additions of grouper and Swedish meatballs by popular demand. All the classic European fare – from goose live pate to escargots to frog legs to Weiner Schnitzel to Beef Wellington – are represented, with Ernest’s unique flair.
When he passed away suddenly in the mid-80’s, Theresa feared for the restaurant’s future, but daughters Carmen and Simone, then in their mid-teens, took over the kitchen they’d grown up in,and the family business live on. Today, their children, from bothers they married, scurry around delivering menus, salads, and the restaurant’s singular sourdough bread.
The regulars here go back decades. They know the menu by heart, and know to come hungry and in no hurry. Meals at La Cote Basque can take two or three hours, and every minute is meant to be savored.
Things begin with that irresistible bread, a secret family recipe that was created literally by accident. As the story goes, Carmen’s son and a friend were wresting in the kitchen and rocked a high-hung shelf, causing a rain of herbs, honey and sesame and poppy seeds to sprinkle down on a tray of just-baked loaves. A few tweaks aside, it’s still prepared with those ingredients.
Then there’s the equally enticing house salad dressing. It’s the only one available, but you won’t want any other. Ernest always planned to bottle the choice concoction made with garlic, parsley, oregano, honey, eggs, olive oil, vinegar, and mayonnaise, but never got around to it.
All entrees at La Cote Basque are served with bread, salad, and three vegetables – carrots, green beans, and red cabbage – as well as potatoes or rice. Out favorite are the veal and chicken scallopini — pounded thin and prepared a la Francaise, picada, marsala, or spinada — but you can’t go wrong with anything on the menu. (They call them classics for a reason.)
While the actual chefs can seldom be found in the kitchens at some restaurants, either Carmen or Simone labors over every dish here. You can taste the love.
Take the Caneton Roti a la Sheree. In the wrong hands, duck with crispy skin often masks dry meat. But their roast duckling (in an amaretto, honey, and cherry sauce) comes out moist and juicy. The sisters’ secret? They fire the skin to a crispy brown with creme brulee flamer before serving. There’s nothing like family. Or family recipes.