Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Is the price worth it? Depends on your taste...

After all, life is a matter of taste. We had a revisit to a long time favorite and wow, things have changed. La Cote Basque in Gulfport was a favorite date place for the Mister and me, many many moons ago. We had devised a delightful idea of a Hop, Skip, Jump dinner with our daughter on a recent Saturday night in Gulfport. What is a Hop, Skip, Jump, you ask? An itinerant dinner, roving between appetizer, entree and dessert courses within a small geographic area. Our plans were set, appetizers at La Cote Basque, Entrees at Habana Cafe, and gelato at Stella's Deli and Gelato. You know the old refrain about well made plans, just like pie crusts, well made plans can be broken.
Once we walked into the "over the top" lace and tablecloth romantic La Cote Basque and were greeted so quickly by a personable young man, we had a huge change of heart. We decided to skip our Skip and Jump courses and give the old memory making restaurant a chance to enthrall us again and introduce our daughter to "the art of fine dining." Frou-Frou, oh yes, indeed. Charming, definitely.
The Mister had a beer to start his meal and I had a split or two of champagne. Each of us ordered a different starter, escargots, mussels in lemon cream, and veal stuffed mushroom caps. The favorite of the table was the mussel dish...the flavor of the lemon cream was phenomenal. It was so good. A few of the mussels did not open and were not eaten and we were disappointed in not getting those few unopened mussels.
Another hit was the homemade mushroom bisque with melted brie. Oh, heaven on a spoon. It was without a doubt the best soup we have ever eaten. It was delicious.
Salads are included with the entrees, and our salads were a lovely crunchy bit of cooling refreshment. There were some rather large hunks of red cabbage that could not be eaten delicately. The homemade dressing rocks. It is garlic strong, honey, and tart. It was so good.
Our entrees were not as successful as the appetizers and we really wanted them to be as good. Mister had a trio of scallopine, in Marsala, Parmesan and Lemon caper sauce. He loved the tender pounded veal and the sauces were well made. It just muddled together in a puddle and it was a bit of a mess. Dinners were served with a lovely red cabbage saute, a honey glazed carrot, and an unfortunately crunchy rice pilaf. I had the frog legs in garlic butter and while the the frog legs were tender and sweet, I missed the garlic kick I usually associate with a provencal frog legs. The kid was torn between two preparations of veal and the waiter kindly offered to split the portion with each sauce. Unfortunately, the sauces ran together and it was difficult to discern between the lemon caper and the marsala. It was however perfectly cooked and tasted good. We drank a bit of wine and enjoyed our meal. a
Finally, ended our meal with a trio of desserts, a creme de Cacao parfait, a tiramisu and chocolate mousse and a special coffee that was sweet, hot and creamy. We sat in a tiny alcove off the entry way...covered in lace drapings, red tablecloths, mis-matched dishes and mis-matched service wear. The service was fantastic and they were hustling and bustling but no one ever felt rushed or neglected. It was a lovely dinner, absolutely lovely. I love love love Gulfport, it is a hidden gem of a town.
Now, the bad news, the prices have gone up considerably from the old days of Gulfport. This kind of food is a long lost art but the price is astronomical. I very nearly had a heart attack when I paid the bill. Please note there is an automatic 15 % gratuity added to the bill. I understand the higher prices when I see the wait staff handing out coupons and discounts to encourage repeat guests, they must offer these coupons in order to cushion the shock of the bill. Nothing is cheap here, but the service is wonderful and the food was above par. Take advantage of the coupons, and discounts, treat yourself to a blast from the past. Table 50 is the most romantic, request it. Dress up and act civilized. It can be quite fun. La Cote Basque Winehouse on Urbanspoon

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