Café Margaux Has Been Space Coast’s Ultimate Destination for Special Celebrations For 3 Decades
By Maria Sonnenberg // April 23, 2019
Dining On the Space Coast With Maria Sonnenberg
SPACE COAST DAILY TV: Dining On the Space Coast With Maria Sonnenberg – Café Margaux in Cocoa Village can become a delightful addiction. For almost three decades, Café Margaux has been the Space Coast’s ultimate destination for special celebrations, date nights, business lunches, gal get-togethers, specialty wine, beer and spirits dinners or simply for just its consistently outstanding European cuisine and prime steaks.
BREVARD COUNTY • COCOA VILLAGE, FLORIDA – The many fans of Café Margaux in Cocoa Village are a very loyal bunch, even to the extent of asking owner Alex Litras if they could lease space in the restaurant’s picture-perfect Belair Courtyard so they could live near their favorite restaurant.
Their love is understandable.
For almost three decades, Café Margaux has been the Space Coast’s ultimate destination for special celebrations, date nights, business lunches, gal get-togethers, specialty wine, beer and spirits dinners or simply for just its consistently outstanding European cuisine and prime steaks.
Margaux’s reputation goes well beyond the county lines, attracting gourmets from throughout Central Florida.
If there is a caveat about Café Margaux, is that dining there can become a delightful addiction, thanks to the creative team of owner Alex Litras and executive chef Erol Tugrul.
Both share a passion – make that obsession – for excellence, which has translated into numerous awards, including kudos from the Distinguished Restaurants of North America(DiRoNA), a highly coveted distinction bestowed only to the crème de la crème in the industry.
Café Margaux has also earned recognition from international gastronomic society Le Chaine de Rotisseurs.
After 10 years of being presented Florida Trend‘s Golden Spoon Award, which placed Café Margaux in the top 20 restaurants in Florida, the publication inducted Margaux into its Restaurant Hall of Fame.
Celebrity Chef Emeril Lagasse featured Café Margaux in his “Emeril’s Florida” show, seen in the Food Network and The Cooking Channel.
Chef Tugrul, the man behind Margaux’s culinary excellence, has been a critical part of the Margaux team for almost as long as the restaurant has existed.
The son of a Bavarian mother and Turkish father, Tugrul studied under numerous international chefs, and his creations are influenced by his multicultural upbringing and international study.
“There are no limits to his culinary sensibility,” said Litras. “He works to stimulate guests with an infusion of flavors and cooking styles.”
The third member of Team Margaux is Alex’s wife, Megan, a Renaissance woman who seems able to do everything from dining room and office manager to overseer of the restaurant’s extensive wine and liquor inventory and special events orchestration.
Café Margaux’s story began in 1989, when then 23-year-old Alex Litras, a devotee of the courtyard-style dining venues in New Orleans, believed Brevard County would welcome an establishment that would blend fine dining, enchanting ambiance and impeccable service.
Alex was right.
Café Margaux’s dining experience reflects author Virginia Woolf’s quote that “one cannot think well, love well, sleep well, if one has not dined well.”
In an atmosphere crafted by Michael Gainey Interiors, guests can choose to dine in the casual yet elegant Burgundy Room, the exotic Pearl Room or the opulent Ulysses Room.
“They each transport you to a different place,” said Gainey.
Enjoy al fresco dining under the umbrellas at the beautiful Belair Courtyard or repair to the main restaurant, designed by Gainey to convey four distinct spaces, each with their special personality.
The Normandy Room, with its slate blue walls and rustic beams, evoke a French country inn where guests can feel both comfortable and pampered.
The Pearl Room is a study in urban-chic black and white, where guests are enveloped by a sophisticated ambiance and every meal becomes an event.
Masculine and rich, the Ulysses Room features backlit wall-sized panels of onyx and exotic chandeliers and sconces.
The Lutrec Lounge, where Café Margaux’s extensive collection of fine spirits are framed by rich hand-tooled copper panels enhanced by lighting that subtly evolves from one color to another, hosts monthly spirits events to introduce guests to unique labels.
Turkish-inspired fixtures, exotic granite and rich leather seating combine to create an intimate atmosphere conducive to conversation.
The menu showcases Chef Tugrul’s talent for European cuisine and is never static, reflecting seasonal opportunities in meats, seafood and vegetables. Among the menu’s most enduring dishes is the Melange of Seafood ($32).
“Our regulars simply love the idea of three fresh fishes with unique preparations and sauces composed in one dish,” said Litras.
Margaux’s legendary steaks range from center cut prime filet mignon ($38) and 18-ounce prime boneless ribeye ($38) to the unforgettable seven-ounce and 14-ounce Japanese Kobe A5 Kobe ribeye, $95 and $180 respectively.
The steaks are served with aged white cheddar mashed potatoes, asparagus and a liberal amount of maître d’hotel butter, a savory compound of French origin with parsley, thyme, lemon juice and salt and pepper.
The menu also offers an upscale take on pasta with its Penne Pasta with Pheasant Breast ($29), accompanied with chorizo sausage, leeks, peppers and a manchego garlic Madeira crème, and Bordeaux Marinated Elk Striploin ($45), with brie-whipped purple potatoes in a cabernet juniper reduction.
Precede entrees with another crowd pleaser and Margaux favorite, Escargots in a Crock baked in garlic butter and Greek basil ($14), the Coquilee St. Jacques ($15) with Gruyere cheese or perhaps Margaux’s award-winning roasted tomato and basil bisque ($10).
Because the restaurant is tailor-made for special events, it is not surprising that Café Margaux hosts many.
Monthly wine dinner series, unique cocktail sessions and seasonal specialty beer dinners draw guests interested in experiencing food and libations that will not soon be forgotten.
At 6:30 p.m. on the first Thursday and Friday of the month from April through January, Café Margaux hosts seven-course dinners that pair each course with unique wines from different vinicultural regions.
Representatives from the vineyards provide background on each of the wines. Upcoming wine dinners include the Wagner Family portfolio of wines on April 4 and 5; Bordeaux wine dinner on May 2 and 3; Napa Valley wine dinner featuring Duckhorn Vineyards on June 6 and 7 and Paso Robles wine dinner with Justin Valley wines on July 11 and 12.
Since Litras collects wine, Café Margaux’s wine list is one of the most extensive in the area, with exceptional selections representing both well-established and up-and-coming wine regions.
The restaurant’s sommeliers are well-versed in the nuances of every bottle in the collection.
Exemplary service is the hallmark of the restaurant because pleasures of the table go together with pampering.
“Our servers are all diehard food lovers who are passionate about providing the best experience for the guests,” said Alex, who believes consistency is the key to Café Margaux’s enduring success.
“The greatest compliments we receive are when returning customer tell us over and over again that their experience, the quality of our food and our ambiance is just as good as the first time they visited us,” he said.
Café Margaux is at 220 Brevard Avenue, Cocoa Village, in the Belair Courtyard adjacent to the Playhouse. The restaurant is open for lunch from 11:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. and for dinner from 5 to 9 p.m. Mondays through Saturdays. For more information, call 321-639-8343 or visit margaux.com
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Maria Sonnenberg is a veteran freelance writer and photographer and longtime resident of Melbourne, Florida. She has been writing about the culinary arts on the Space Coast for more than 20 years and enjoys discovering and highlighting Brevard’s many unique and diverse places to eat and drink. A former editor for a string of weekly newspapers in and around the Pennsylvania Dutch country, Maria now writes for several local publications, including Space Coast Daily magazine for the past 13 years. In addition, her work has appeared in the Orlando Sentinel, Florida Monthly, Progressive Engineer, BMW Journal and other regional and national magazines.
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