La Côte Basque

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search

La Côte Basque was a New York restaurant. It opened in the late 1950s and operated until it closed on March 7, 2004. In business for 45 years, upon its closing The New York Times called it a "former high-society temple of French cuisine at 60 West 55th Street."[1]


The restaurant was opened in the late 1950s by Henri Soulé. Upon the death of Soulé, Mme. Henriette, his French cashier who had been erroneously presumed to be his wife, contrived to buy the restaurant from Soulé's widow, and Mme. Henriette then ran the place with the authority of a tyrant, keeping its standards up to perfection. The divine cuisine and tasteful décor under her baton, enhanced by Bernard Lamotte's seaside murals of St.-Jean-de-Luz on France's Côte Basque, made dining there the delirious experience of a séance, and merely being there meant that one had officially "arrived." Jean-Jacques Rachou became the owner and chef in 1979. At that time the restaurant was located a block to the east, moving to the West 55th street location in 1995. It was "known as much for its elegantly arrayed tables, set against a backdrop of handsome French seaside murals, as for its food. Mr. Rachou said he spent more than $2,200 a week on flowers and more than $3,000 on linen."[2] But it was actually Henri Soulé who had said this as an excuse for not paying his staff more when he had been the owner of the restaurant Le Pavillon.

Truman Capote's unfinished novel Answered Prayers had as its setting a "catty and thinly veiled" version of the La Côte Basque; the chapter "La Côte Basque 1965" was excerpted in Esquire magazine in 1979. A scene from the film Light Sleeper (1992), directed by Paul Schrader, features Willem Dafoe and Susan Sarandon eating lunch in the restaurant.[3]

Famous patrons included Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis, Babe Paley and Frank Sinatra.[2]

External links[edit]


  1. ^ "Eat and Be Merry; On Saturday 2 Classics Die". The New York Times. February 13, 2004. 
  2. ^ a b "Côte Basque, a Society Temple, Is Closing". The New York Times. September 18, 2003. 
  3. ^ On the Set of New York

Coordinates: 40°45′45″N 73°58′37″W / 40.76250°N 73.97694°W / 40.76250; -73.97694