Chateau 13 may not have the scale or the surrounding estate of your traditional chateau – but it does house a large wine collection and exhibits some of the same materials of a castle such as brick, rod iron gates, and gold detailing on the facade.
So once you enter this small chateau, you’ll find a formal dining room area, a bar area, and high-top tables for a more casual atmosphere around the bar. The decor inside is mindful of the origins of this castle, wine. There are wine crates from a number of European countries adorning the walls, large photographic cellar-themed murals, and a floor-to-ceiling climate-controlled wine cellar. You may think this is all generic decor for a wine bar but it’s not.
When Jenn enters the room, you’ll realize that this wine expert turned restaurant manager has visited almost every single one of the wineries displayed on the crates and the murals. She can recite stories related to almost all of the wineries represented in the restaurant, but you will have to visit more than once for that.
Now on to their kitchen inspiration… they consider themselves a European culinary concept with influences from Spain, Italy, France, and Belgium. The latter being the country of origin of the Lippens Family who owns Chateau 13 as well as the Palmetto Riverside Bed & Breakfast on the Manatee River.
Their menu is kept fresh year round with the addition of new menu items based on seasonal ingredients. You will find summer dishes such as Poached Sea Bass Cheeks and some heavier winter dishes in the fall and winter such as Filet Mignon with truffled Mashed Potatoes.
Another unique feature of their menu is the Chef’s Prix Fixe, a multi-course menu that starts with a small appetizer followed by an entree and dessert from the seasonal menu and guest favorite dishes. This will give you a good sampling of what Chateau’s dining is all about.
The kitchen team is led by Chef Greg Harrison of the prestigious Johnson & Wales culinary school. My favorite way to experience their menu is to choose a la carte items and taste something different on every visit. A well-suited wine list and some fantastic wine cocktails make for excellent compliments to your meal. Many people tend to think that wine cocktails can’t stand up to their spirit cousins, but once you’ve tasted a Sottosopra (cherry) cocktail, you’ll never look back.
I can’t visit Chateau 13 without having Stuffed Piquillo Peppers, a tangy Spanish red pepper stuffed with goat’s milk cheese and served over roasted tomato cream. Foie Gras, Escargots, and the Tomato Bisque with Crab Meat are also excellent choices. Appetizers start around $12. There are also several choices of salads and mussels prepared in three different ways.
This season’s entrées include a Pan Roasted Chicken with lemon tarragon cream, exotic mushrooms, and roasted fingerling potatoes; a Pork Paillard with whole grain mustard jus and sautéed vegetables; and The Louis XIII Burger, topped with truffled mushrooms, bloc de foie gras, shallot jam, and gruyère served with house frités. You can also have the frités in four different ways- seasalt, aioli, truffle parmesan, or hollandaise. Entrées start at around $24.
Always leave room for dessert! Their sweet endings are all housemade and range from a simple Cheese Plate to the show-stopping Bananas Foster Bread Pudding with rum caramel and vanilla bean ice cream – served flambé at your table. Desserts start at around $9.
You will feel the warmth of the professional and knowledgeable staff whether it’s your first visit or you become a regular guest. Chateau 13 is located on the street that bears its name, 13th Street West in Downtown Bradenton. Reservations are almost always necessary, as it’s hard to find an empty seat. They have indoor and limited outdoor seating. Open Tuesday-Saturday with seatings from 5:00 pm.