Over the past 12 years, the Fort Condé Inn, located in the historic neighborhood known as Fort Condé Village, has grown from a 10-room bed and breakfast into a collection of nine meticulously restored properties capable of sleeping 84.
“Where ordinary hotels have hallways, we have cobblestone streets lit with gas lanterns,” owner David Posner explains. Posner and his father Lawrence have spent the past two decades renovating the 19th-century neighborhood south of the Colonial Fort Condé replica. The Village’s newest restoration, Bistro St. Emanuel, was therefore born out of necessity; the Fort Condé Inn had outgrown its kitchen. When Posner decided it was time to open a restaurant that would service his guests, the public, and the large wedding receptions being booked at the Inn, he didn’t have to look far.
“We always wanted this building to be a restaurant because it was initially a bar and restaurant when it was built in the 1850s,” he says. The window-fronted building, catty-corner to the Inn’s original property, will soon be a certified historic restoration. A stunning new quartz-topped bar, built out of antique sideboards by a Pennsylvania craftsman, was designed to feel as though it was original to the building — and it does. Art Deco paintings and wallpaper help set the year to about 1915.
The food, meanwhile, is a tribute to Mobile’s Old World heritage; when Bistro St. Emanuel opened for breakfast and brunch in November, patrons found hearty European-inspired dishes made with Alabama standards. “I wanted to make the menu an homage to what makes Mobile unique,” says executive sous chef Rachel Ostrowski. “I didn’t want it to feel like it was a knockoff of New Orleans.” Order the “a la Bamian Omelette” (get it?) made with lump crabmeat and Conecuh sausage. Or try the “a la Joe Cain,” an eggs Benedict breakfast with crawfish sauce instead of Hollandaise.
This month, the restaurant will also introduce its dinner service under the direction of executive chef Clint Delaney. The Mediterranean-influenced menu was inspired by Corsica native Charles Antomarchi, who built the original restaurant in 1850. “We’re very aware of our history down here,” Posner says.
On the Menu
Louis de la Mobile
A Port City twist on Crab Louie, this dish features lump crabmeat with poached eggs, sauteed asparagus and cherry tomatoes atop an English muffin.
Conecuh bacon shares the spotlight with lettuce, heirloom tomato, mayonnaise, basil, garlic and olive oil between two slices of toasted white bread.
Á La Bamian Omelette
Fresh lump crabmeat, diced Conecuh sausage, bell pepper and onion combine to showcase Alabama in an omelette.
The Full Condé
A sizzling New York strip steak and eggs made to order sit atop a mound of roasted potatoes. Yeah, you won’t leave hungry.
Bistro St. Emanuel • 200 St. Emanuel St. • 405-5040 • Website
Breakfast: 7 – 10 a.m. M – F, 8 a.m. – 2 p.m. Sa & Su.
Dinner: 5 – 9 p.m. Su – Th, 5 – 10 p.m. F & Sa