Was a Local Restaurant Maligned in a Recent Review?

I don’t really like my job today. However, once in a while you come across something that seems unjust and I’m lucky to have the opportunity to correct it.

Isabelle’s is a restaurant located in Gulfport  at 237 Beach Blvd. South inside the Peninsula Inn and Spa. It is beyond charming with its old-world style, cozy seating areas and expansive porches. The lighting is muted and romantic. This is a place that speaks to the past, and I’m sure this building has a storied history. I hear they even have a resident “friendly” ghost; Isabelle, of course.
When I read the recent review that was written and widely distributed about this restaurant, it made me a little sad for them. I know it is very difficult to write a negative review knowing how it can affect a restaurant’s bottom line, so I wanted to see for myself whether it was warranted or not. The owners of small, boutique restaurants like this one deserve that.

On my first visit there, I was greeted warmly and seated immediately. My beverage order was filled promptly and my server answered questions about the menu. While I was waiting for my order, I noticed the place was filling up with people. They were coming to see a man named Dale who sings there a few nights per week. Many restaurants offer live music as a means to attract customers, but I have to say, this gentleman was worth coming to hear. His rendition of “Memory” from the famed musical “Cats” was unbelievable. I had to stop my conversation just to listen to him. HIs range and his showmanship were amazing and he chose the little enclave of Gulfport to entertain a growing, loyal audience. I was blown away by his talent. Truly.

The ribeye steak I requested came in short order. It was huge (14 oz.), cooked perfectly rare to my liking and was served with what I would call Potatoes Dauphinoise (basically scalloped potatoes) and some sauteed vegetables.  One of the things that struck me about this dish was the pleasant hint of nutmeg in the potatoes. The vegetables (zucchini, etc.) were also cooked with care and were very tasty. Often, side dishes are treated as an afterthought, but that was not the case here. The steak was of very good quality and was seasoned as one would expect, with a mushroom demi glace to die for.

My next two visits there were very similar. The food was consistently good, the service was acceptable (maybe slightly delayed when they were very busy), and the crowd was mostly locals that have come to call this restaurant their “home away from home”. Many of the menu items were under $15 and they also offer a Sunset Special on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays for $10.95 between 5pm and 6:30pm. Menu items range from classics like Lobster Bisque, to their Grand Peninsula Burger with Smoked Gouda, sauteed onions and mushrooms on Ciabatta Bread.
I’m not sure what happened to cause such a negative review of this restaurant. All I can tell you is, in my opinion, it is worth checking out.

About elizabeth

Elizabeth Dougherty has been cooking and writing about food intensively for more than ten years. She is the fourth generation of chefs and gourmet grocers in her family with her mother, Francesca Esposito and grandmother, Carmella being major influences in her early cooking years. As a teenager, her family sent her to Europe where she became focused on French and Italian cuisine. She survived a year and half of culinary tutelage under a maniacal Swiss-German chef and is a graduate of NYIT, Magna Cum Laude with a Bachelor’s degree in Hospitality, Business and Labor Relations. Food Nation Radio has won two news awards for content. Broadcasting LIVE each week, nationwide, on FoodNationRadio.com and stations around the country.