La Côte Basque

La Côte Basque was a New York City 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. 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]

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 1975.[3][4] A scene from the film Light Sleeper (1992), directed by Paul Schrader, features Willem Dafoe and Susan Sarandon eating lunch in the restaurant.[5]

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


  1. "Eat and Be Merry; On Saturday 2 Classics Die". The New York Times. February 13, 2004.
  2. Berger, Joseph (September 18, 2003). "Côte Basque, a Society Temple, Is Closing". The New York Times.
  3. Callahan, Maureen (January 24, 2016). "The story that destroyed Truman Capote — and high society". New York Post. Retrieved 20 January 2018.
  4. Capote, Truman. "La Côte Basque, 1965 by Truman Capote" (November 1975). Esquire Magazine. Retrieved 20 January 2018.
  5. On the Set of New York