There are meals. And then there are experiences.
When you visit a place as beautiful as the Gulf Coast, you’ll probably want to spend as much time as you can outside, enjoying the sunshine, eating fresh-caught seafood, and generally living as the locals do. That must have been just what Brian and Jody Harsany were thinking when they opened Cosmo’s on Canal Road in Orange Beach, followed a few years later by Cobalt on the Perdido Pass.
The husband and wife team are surrounded by a talented group who have worked together for more than 15 years, originally at Bayside Grille. We spoke to Sam McLeod, former executive chef of Cobalt who was recently promoted to Culinary Director of the restaurants – including Cosmo’s, Cobalt and the highly anticipated Luna’s, opening Spring 2016.
“That was a very successful group for a long time, and anyone with an entrepreneurial spirit, it comes time to branch out and do your own thing,” he said of the Harsanys.
In the early 2000s, they found a property on Canal Road to open Cosmo’s, which has since become one of the top restaurants on the island. Then, in late 2006, Larry Wireman, developer of luxury waterfront condominium Caribe, approached the Harsanys about operating an eatery adjacent to the development. He would build the restaurant, but he wanted someone he could trust to operate it. A frequent patron of Cosmo’s, the partnership was a natural fit – in a naturally beautiful setting.
“With Cosmo’s, we wanted the neighborhood eatery … the place the locals wanted to go and hang out,” McLeod says. “Cobalt is a little more elegant, but casual at the same time. The building and the property are a huge draw, and once you meet the staff and eat the food, it just all flows together seamlessly.”
Cosmo’s is a colorful and artsy restaurant, with a menu just as bright. Cobalt offers a gorgeous indoor dining room and an expansive deck overlooking the Perdido Pass.
“We like to develop specials and menu items based on what they have available for us,” McLeod says. “To get in the back of the truck and rummage around and get some fresh ideas that way.”
The same goes for Gulf seafood. The eateries have a blue crab picker out of Bayou La Batre, and an oyster guy who will harvest and deliver the next day.
Cobalt’s Best Dishes
Maybe that’s why the chargrilled oysters are such a big hit. Fresh out of the water, they’re grilled in garlic butter, parmesan and romano. Cobalt also serves them raw, if that’s the way you like them. The pizzas are popular, with dough and sauce made from scratch daily.
If you desire a dish that celebrates the Gulf Coast, order the Paneed Gulf Grouper, served over sweet pea and tomato risotto, topped with sautéed sweet blue crab meat and creole mustard vinaigrette.
Cosmo’s Best Dishes
Firecracker shrimp are lightly fried and tossed in spicy Southern remoulade – a Happy Hour hit.
The Banana Leaf Wrapped Sea Bass offers a beautiful presentation, featuring fish that is perfectly seasoned then wrapped and chargrilled.
Cosmo’s award winning sushi is served daily.
In late spring 2016, the restaurant group is set to open Luna’s – a vibrant, colorful restaurant serving up Southern pub fare, washed down with 32 taps of craft beer and spirits from local distilleries.
Buzz Cats, a coffee and pastry shop, will offer a different kind of buzz next door.
The complex will also feature the Event Center at the Courtyard, a 200-person venue for weddings or reunions with a full-service bar.
In his new role as culinary director, it will be Sam’s job to oversee food preparation for all properties.
Cosmo’s is located at 25753 Canal Road in Orange Beach. For more information, visit the Cosmo’s website or call (251) 948-9663. Cobalt is located at 28099 Perdido Beach Boulevard in Orange Beach. Visit the Cobalt website or call (251) 923-5300 for reservations and more.
– Ashley Kahn Salley
Lead Storyteller, Innisfree Hotels