Ambrosia: Setting the Bar
By Liesel Schmidt
April 30, 2023
WATERSOUND – am·bro·sia /am’brōZH∂/ noun: the food of the gods; something very pleasing to taste or smell.
Since opening in August of 2022, Ambrosia Prime Seafood & Steaks has lived up to its name, offering an array of the finest prime steaks and freshest Gulf seafood to create an upscale yet welcoming dining experience. The brainchild and passion project of local owner Russ Graham, Ambrosia is the newest in Graham’s collection of fine dining restaurants. The restaurateur has spent more than 30 years in the industry, with jobs ranging from his first job as a dishwasher to ownership. Graham owned multiple award-winning fine dining restaurants before selling them a few years ago to move to 30A.
Bright, airy, and modern, the space at Ambrosia is the perfect canvas for Graham’s very simple concept of providing the best of the best in food, service, and atmosphere. Much like the menu, the interior of the restaurant is carefully curated and thoughtfully designed. Starting at the greenery wall at the exterior, there is a very specific aesthetic that carries through to the light, airy, and coastal dining room. Composed of multiple rooms lined with sumptuous leather booths as well as smaller tables, the interior boasts a large seagrass sculpture that perfectly espouses the modernity of the space and affords a view of the town center from almost every seat.
In perfect contrast to the brightness of the dining room, the bar has an old New York speakeasy feel, entirely encompassed in mahogany wood and dimly lit to evoke a certain moodiness. Adding to the atmosphere are the copper ceiling tiles, marble bar top, and custom tile floor.
“They all really enhance the old world feel,” said Graham.
Outside, the patio has large maritime umbrellas that offer shade while diners enjoy the feeling of the coastal breeze as they dine. To add to the aesthetic, the space is surrounded by beautiful landscaping.
Much like the white linen-adorned tables, the food at Ambrosia is elegant, created at the deft hand of Executive Chef Michael Sichel, a Culinary Institute of America grad who first worked for Gotham Bar and Grill in New York City. The skilled chef has also worked at Rubicon in San Francisco; The Abbey of Sainte Croix in Salon-de-Provence, France; Auberge du Soleil in Napa; and Galaroire’s in New Orleans.
“Along with his outstanding background, Michael has an incredible vision for Ambrosia and is a true leader in the kitchen,” said Graham. “Michael takes great pride in making everything from scratch and ensuring our guests have the best quality food.”
Boasting a beautifully executed list of starters that perfectly set the stage for the main event, Ambrosia’s menu is filled with dishes showing attention to detail and devotion to flavor. Prime steaks are Ambrosia’s claim to fame, but their fresh seafood is a feature that more than contends for a place in the spotlight. Signature items outside of their prime steaks are the snapper; the Day Boat Grouper, perfectly paired with Gulf shrimp risotto; and the understandably popular – and very decadent – bacon rack, which offers a selection of hand-cut specialty bacon.
Naturally, Graham’s definition of fine dining extends to every aspect, not the least of which is the level of service his guests receive from the moment they walk in.
“Hospitality is what brings people in the door and keeps them coming back,” he said. “Every step of a guest’s experience with Ambrosia is important to us, and we work hard every day to make sure our guests have the best experience, because it is what they deserve.”
Ambrosia is located at Watersound Town Center, 75 Origins Main Street, Watersound. Open daily, 4 to 10 p.m. in the bar, dining room 5 to 10 p.m. For more information, call 850-909-0100 or visit ambrosia30a.com. Reservations accepted.