Ticket proceeds benefit Shelter House of Okaloosa and Walton counties
DESTIN – Tickets are on sale for Shelter House’s sixth annual Palate & Palette Dinner, to be held Feb. 5, 2022, at Legendary Marine’s showroom in Destin. This year’s featured artist will be Nikki Cade, from Dallas, Texas. At the end of the evening, the painting will be auctioned off.
This pop-up style wine dinner is a unique experience, as Legendary Marine’s showroom is transformed into a chic venue. Elite Worldwide Imports will pair wine with each of the five courses, created by local chefs:
Local distillery Timber Creek will offer craft cocktails throughout the night and Destin Brewery will provide craft beers. B-Boy Productions’ live DJ will command the music of the event, floating high above the dining area aboard one of the newest bay cruising yachts. Guests can also say “cheese” in the Epic Photo Booth and explore the expansive silent auction, offering prize packages including fishing trips, restaurant experiences, custom art, spa packages and more.
Tickets are $125 per person and can be purchased online at http://bidpal.net/palate2022. All proceeds benefit Shelter House, the state-certified domestic and sexual violence center serving both Okaloosa and Walton counties. Ticket pricing will increase to $140 per person on Saturday, Jan. 22, 2022.
SANTA ROSA BEACH – If there is one thing that sets Chef Isley Whyte apart — besides his culinary creativity — it’s his smile. It’s an infectious one that sets the tone for everyone and everything else at Vue on 30A, the restaurant at the Santa Rosa Golf and Beach Club.
“I’ve never seen him not smile,” said Michael Bickett, the club’s general manager. “He must be the most beloved employee we have at the club.”
Whyte took on the role of executive chef of Vue on 30A in the fall of 2019. He was promoted after serving as the restaurant’s sous chef and Bickett said he has rewarded them tenfold with his creativity in the kitchen, his care for his staff and his contagious positivity.
“The way his staff and the service staff, the way they speak about him is really a testament to what he is all about and the family atmosphere he has created here,” Bickett said. “And the club members and customers echo that as well.”
“We often don’t know what tonight’s dinner will be because it hasn’t sprung from Chef Isley’s brain yet. I never want to stifle his creativity.” – Michael Bickett, GM
Vue on 30A – one of the only beachfront dining options along Scenic Highway 30A – has been serving customers with high-end food and an incredible, panoramic view of the Gulf of Mexico for 50 years. The restaurant offers full windows in their air-conditioned dining room as well as an open-air, covered dining terrace, all overlooking the emerald green water and white sand beaches.
Whyte grew up in Jamaica cooking with his auntie for their large family (he is the oldest of 11 children). He came to the United States in 2005, started as a dishwasher and moved his way up the line to where he is today. Each morning, he arrives at the kitchen and creates something new.
“He is very creative and likes to surprise us on a daily basis,” Bickett said. “We often don’t know what tonight’s dinner will be because it hasn’t sprung from Chef Isley’s brain yet. I never want to stifle his creativity. His brain thinks in different ways than a lot of people do and it’s a great way to think.”
Vue on 30A’s menu features three to four unique, daily specials. Bickett said Whyte often takes whatever fresh produce, fish or meat his purveyors have to offer and creates a dish around that.
One example on the menu during late spring was a whole fried fish special. It was branzino, about one-and-a-half pounds of it, tempura-battered and deep-fried.
“The presentation, the way it looked going out, once one table saw it, everyone wanted it.”
Whyte brings some of his native island flavors to the menu (coconut curry, Jamaican jerk chicken) but Bickett said he also has a broad range of experience and serves one of the best steaks in town: a filet mignon served with red wine chorizo demi-glace that is one of Vue on 30A’s most popular dishes.
Shrimp and scallops is another popular item at Vue on 30A. It comes with three pan-seared scallops served over a bed of truffle risotto paired with two fried, grilled or blackened shrimp and a mango carrot beurre blanc.
Kitchen staff will always try to work with any dietary requests or customize dishes to what the diner is looking for, Bickett said.
Their food menu is complemented by an extensive wine list and a custom cocktail menu created in-house.
In addition to Whyte, the entire staff works hard to help make a special experience for diners, whether they are just getting to have a night out or celebrating a special occasion.
“The view gets people to show up for the first time, but the food and the service along with that view are what brings them back as repeat customers.”
Vue on 30A is located at 4801 Co. Hwy. 30A West in Santa Rosa Beach. Staff can be reached at 850-267-2305. The restaurant is open Tuesday through Saturday from 11 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. for lunch, 3 to 6 p.m. for happy hour, and 5 to 9 p.m. for dinner. Sunday brunch is served from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Reservations are highly recommended, at least two weeks in advance for dinner and brunch. Find more information or make reservations at vueon30A.net.
The Beach House, Signature Catering take top awards
Special to 30A Food and Wine Nov. 8, 2021
MIRAMAR BEACH – The Market Shops hosted its sixth annual Bloody Mary Festival Oct 23. The annual event, powered by Step One Automotive Group, raised $30,000 for Habitat for Humanity – Walton County, a record-breaking amount for the festival. The sold-out event welcomed over 1,000 guests and featured unlimited tastes of the Emerald Coast’s most creative and inventive Bloody Marys made with Distillery 98’s local Dune Laker vodka served by 17 of the finest restaurants, bars, and catering companies in Northwest Florida.
Guests were greeted upon arrival with festive tomato-themed balloon décor, courtesy of Mingle, before entering the bustling courtyard and grand lawn, each full of restaurants, vendors, and merchants from The Market Shops. Event goers made their way around the tents sampling each Bloody Mary, complete with over-the-top accoutrements, served in specialty cups provided by Compass Builders of Florida, Frill Seekers Gifts, and Visit South Walton.
Upon check-in, guests received a token in order to vote for the coveted People’s Choice Awards for the “Best Bloody Mary in South Walton.” At the end of the event, votes were counted by Hill Coleman, CPA, and all awards were custom made by local artist, Maxine Orange.
People’s Choice Award
First place – The Beach House Combination of house-made mix, Worcestershire, salt, pepper, fresh lemon and lime juice, olive juice, hot sauce, and a spice rim. Garnished with fresh shrimp cocktail, a blue cheese stuffed olive, pickled green bean, and applewood smoked bacon.
Second place – Cannery Lane Cantina Carlito’s Zesty Pao Pao Bloody Mary Mix made with 100 percent natural tomato juice, fresh horseradish, pickle juice, lime juice, and lemon juice.
Third place – Camille’s at Crystal Beach Signature, classic house-made Bloody Mary garnished with the restaurant’s most popular menu items including a fried green tomato, Cubano, and peppadew pepper stuffed with espresso bacon jam and goat cheese.
Judge’s Choice Award
Signature Catering of 30A Greek-inspired Bloody Mary made using fresh, local arugula from Greenman’s Garden, fresh dill, Meyer lemon juice, and Texas extra virgin olive oil served with dry ice.
The Market Shops thanks participating groups from Alys Beach, Bijoux Restaurant + Spirits, Bitterroot, Camille’s at Crystal Beach, Cannery Lane Cantina, Emeril’s Coastal, Jackacuda’s Seafood & Sushi, La Crema, Old Florida Fish House, Ovide, Signature Catering of 30A, Stinky’s Fish Camp, The Beach House, The Chef’s Table Catering Company, The Grove 30A, The Henderson Beach Resort, and The Perfect Pig.
Food was offering from The Market Shops restaurants, including Ben & Jerrys, Clean Juice, Jon Smith Subs, Parlor Doughnuts, and Pizza by the Sea. Apart from the Bloody Marys, guests sipped on local craft brews served by Idyll Hounds Brewing Company and champagne from the Bubbly Bar, courtesy of Hey Mama Wines, Courtyard by Marriott Sandestin at Grand Boulevard, Hyatt Place Sandestin at Grand Boulevard, and Residence Inn by Marriott Sandestin at Grand Boulevard.
WATERCOLOR – The fifth annual 2021 Harvest Wine & Food Festival Grand Tasting was a celebration of wine, a celebration of food, but it also celebrated a return to normalcy. After public health concerns canceled the weekend’s premier event in 2020, wine lovers turned out by the hundreds to WaterColor’s Cerulean Park Nov. 6 for an afternoon of sunshine and fall flavors.
Guests enjoyed samples from 51 tables, including food, wine and spirits tents, and the beer garden.
Fox Bros. B-B-Q owners Jonathan and Justin Fox were back, this time collaborating with fellow Atlanta restaurateur Craig Richards of Lyla Lila. The trio rolled out a multi-course menu, starting with burnt ends and provolone arancini with pepperoni sausage. Later in the day, they offered tasters of cacio e pepe agnolotti over smoked beef cheeks, then pit-smoked porchetta with giardiniera.
Seagrove hotspot Old Florida Fish House was on hand, as Chef Michael Sichel brought the flavors of fall with his crab and butternut squash risotto. He was energized to see the sold-out crowd out enjoying food and wine again.
“It’s lovely to see everyone, everyone feels safe and comfortable in their environment,” Sichel explained. “The hospitality world is all about making people feel good about themselves, so to be able to have this event today and have everyone feel so free, I just love to be a part of it.”
Those lucky enough to score a VIP ticket were treated to a set from local up-and-comer Skylar Capri, singing her “Maybe We Should Run Away From Here.” VIPs also enjoyed bites from Alys Beach newcomer The Citizen, The Henderson and Sunquest Catering. Roy Estates was pouring alongside Purlieu Wines and local favorites Idyll Hounds.
Representing The Citizen, Chef Drew Dzejak plated Calabrian shrimp with homemade focaccia – heralded by many as the best bite of the day.
“To be out here, it feels like normalcy again,” Dzejak said with a smile as he stirred a pan of shrimp. “It feels normal to get back to the food, and the VIP tent is always the best place to be!”
Other food offerings included goat cheese crustini from Perfect Pig, tuna poke bowls from Jackacuda’s, and tuna dip from Destin Ice Market 30A.
Among the capacity crowd was Cathy Perschbacher of Dallas, who has been bringing her family to the 30A area for years, but she and her girlfriends recently were thrilled to learn about the Harvest Wine Festival.
“It’s a totally different experience from coming with your family, you know, a girls’ trip. We’re having a great time,” she said.
Her strategy was to ditch the tasting guide, not worry about bottle prices, and let her tastebuds do the deciding.
“I take pictures of my favorites with my phone, and that way I know what I want to buy on my way out!” Cathy explained, pointing to the retail tent.
INLET BEACH – Situated on the east end of Scenic Highway 30A is 30Avenue, an outdoor lifestyle center that exemplifies the South Walton experience. Though the summer “season” may have come to a close, the complex’s selection of restaurants, retail shops, professional offices, and event space continue to make 30Avenue a center for family fun.
New to the complex is Little’s Lunches & Kitchen, offering chef-crafted meals, market-style food and jarred products. 30Avenue Marketing Coordinator Stephanie Madden said the kitchen is available for pickup or pre-order.
“They will also stock vacation homes,” Madden said, adding, “On the third Friday and Saturday they are hosting kid-friendly interactive culinary adventures with Chef Glen. Your junior chef will design a fun and culinary masterpiece.”
Coming down the pike is the much-anticipated Canopy Road Cafe, slated to open in the spring of 2022. With locations near Tallahassee, Jacksonville and Tampa, this tribute to the American diner serves made-from-scratch breakfasts and lunches, including giant pancakes and a half-pound burger.
Get into the seasonal spirit with a lineup of live entertainment slated for the next month.
“We are gearing up for a fun holiday season!” Madden said. “We will have live music Nov. 18 to 27 (with the exception of Thanksgiving Day).”
Musicians will also set the backdrop for Black Friday shopping Nov. 26, with live music 11 a.m. to 9 p.m.
Additionally, the 30A Olive Oil store will host a holiday open house Nov. 17, including in-store discounts and a free gift with purchase (while supplies last). Enjoy floral arranging with Beach Blooms at 10 a.m., and wine-tasting and lite bites from 3 to 8 p.m.
MYST 30A – the Modern Yoga STyle fitness center – is offering the entire store buy one, get one 50% off on Sunday, Nov. 21, to jump start holiday shopping.
Additionally Ohana Institute, the private school that anchors the north end of the 30Avenue complex, will be hosting their holiday tree, wreath and garland sale on the Ohana Green. Available Monday to Friday, 3 to 6 p.m.; and 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on the weekends, proceeds benefit the debate class trip to Model United Nations.
Other culinary options in the complex include 30A Burger, amici 30A Italian Kitchen, amigos 30A Mexican Kitchen, Barbacoa Mexican Grill, Cuvee 30A, Decadent, Goatfeathers at 30Avenue, Great American Cookies, and Marble Slab Creamery.
30Avenue is located at 12805 US Highway 98 East, Rosemary Beach, FL 32461. Visit them online at www.thirtyavenue.com for more information.
SANTA ROSA BEACH – North Beach Social is having a huge Halloween party on Sunday, Oct. 31, 2021. During the Halloween Extravaganza, bring your little monsters from 1 to 4 p.m. for all the treats and tricks! Plus, there will be music by the Wildlife Special3 and a costume contest.
For the adults, it’s Trick or Tequila from 6:30 to 9:30 p.m. Dance to jams by DJ 30A and wear your most extravagant costume for the costume contest. Grand prize winner takes home $500 and second and third place winners get a prize as well.
ALYS BEACH – While opening a restaurant in the midst of a pandemic may seem risky, the reward seemed worth the gamble for Jeremy Walton, whose 25 years in the hospitality industry gave him confidence that a new venture could indeed reach monumental success despite the long shadow cast by current events.
“The concept of the restaurant is inspired by coastal cuisine from around the world, mixed with local and regional ingredients.” –Jeremy Walton, owner
Open since January of 2021, The Citizen has become a newly hewn gem in the crown of Alys Beach, named for the driving concept behind it. “A love for the community and commitment to defining what it means to be a ‘good citizen,’” said Walton, who earned his chops working with Auberge Resorts, Montage International, and Sea Island before joining the Alys Beach team in 2014. He has also served as a consulting partner for James Beard Award-winning Chef Chris Hastings, since 2005.
“I’ve had a close relationship with Alys Beach for many years, and The Citizen provided me with the perfect way to continue the growth of this community,” he explained. “The concept of the restaurant is inspired by coastal cuisine from around the world, mixed with local and regional ingredients.”
Designed by local architecture and design firm Khoury-Vogt Architects – the town architects for Alys Beach – the restaurant naturally ascribes to Alys Beach’s cleanly minimalist aesthetic. The interior is influenced by Scandinavian modern design, with a focus on simple and refined elements: coffered ceilings, marble and gold accents, and a vibrant splash of peacock blue that stands in stark relief from the overall white theme of the space.
Diners at The Citizen are given a variety of seating options, from the 18-seat bar and a 12-seat raw bar to the 120-seat dining room and outdoor patio area. Mirroring the fresh and vibrant vibe of the restaurant itself, the flavors of The Citizen are showcased in a variety of menu items that include a selection of fresh-caught seafood as well dishes that fall under the heading of “land” and “garden.”
Having created what Walton essentially terms more of a tavern, the dishes reflect the casual atmosphere of such an enterprise, with entrees, sandwiches, salads, and appetizers that – while expertly prepared and conceived with an expertise for flavor pairings – seem to straddle the line between elevated cuisine and comfort food. As a nod to coastal Southern fare, many of the dishes are cooked over a wood fired hearth. Naturally, the beverage side of the menu shows a careful exploration of mixology that is both creative and unique.
As fantastic as the fare might be, there are, of course, a few dishes that make it to the top of the list.
“Some of our best-sellers are the Gulf shrimp, whipped feta, and our roasted avocado salad,” Walton observed. To look at the descriptions of this trio, it’s little wonder that they would be so popular. The Gulf shrimp is no mere platter of crustaceans; instead, they boast the heat of Calabrian chilies, cut with the tart edge of lemon, topped with crispy garlic, crispy shallots, and herb salad, served with grilled bread. Blended with honey, the smooth creaminess of the whipped feta is given crunch with herbed Valencia almonds and accompanied by grilled naan bread.
Clearly, there are masters at work in the kitchen, and Executive Chef Drew Dzejak is nothing if not a magician in the culinary arena. Having first developed his skills as a professional chef at the age of 15, he then went on to graduate from Johnson & Wales with a degree in Culinary Arts and set out to work at Belmond Charleston Place Hotel, Windsor Court Hotel, and Palmetto Bluff, where serendipity put him in Walton’s path. Chef de Cuisine Coleman Jernigan is equally an asset; and, much like Dzejak, he began his culinary journey at an early age. He hails from New Orleans and has several areas of expertise, including bread baking, pastry arts, fine dining, casual dining, and wholesale production.
From appetizer to dessert, The Citizen is indeed a celebration of the community – and they welcome you to join them.
The Citizen is located at 20 Mark Twain Lane #101, Alys Beach. Open Monday to Saturday 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. for lunch; dinner 5 to 9 p.m. Bar hours are 3:30 to 10 p.m. Reservations accepted for parties of eight or more. For more information, call 850-909-0702 or visit www.citizenalys.com.
SEASCAPE – Good food, good weather, good fun and good causes converged at Seascape Towne Center Oct. 16, as the Eggs on the Beach EggFest Cooking Competition returned for a seventh time.
Susan Kiley of Bay Breeze Patio co-organizes the event, and was very pleased with how the 2021 installment turned out.
“We had to change venues so that we could spread people out, put each group in individual tents, and it ends up that this is really a perfect venue. Everyone is loving it,” Kiley said, adding the decision to move the EggFest from September to October was also wise. “To not be 97 degrees is delightful.”
With nearly two dozen cook teams competing for fame and prizes, competitors had to bring creativity and originality to catch the attention of tasters, who used tickets to vote for their favorites. Team “Here for the Beer” passed out their Texas Twinkies: bacon-wrapped jalapeño peppers with zesty cheese filling. The Combat Diver Foundation had eggs frying to top their huevos rancheros plates. BE-CI satisfied the sweet tooth with their smoked bananas foster bite.
Mike Sturdivant was helping to man the “Hot Decks” table for Walton County Skate Society. The organization that built the skate park in Santa Rosa Beach drew inspiration from their sport, constructing an edible skateboard: smoked sausage wheels, a Black Bear Bread deck, mozzarella cheese, topped with a blueberry reduction sauce.
The battle of the smoked tuna dip was waged between Food For Thought, Saltwater Grill and Team No Bad Days. Sinfonia Gulf Coast enticed voters with cups of vodka tea lemonade accompanying their grilled shrimp with gazpacho – a collaboration with Destin Ice Market 30A – but also promised a musical fanfare from the student musicians for each ticket collected.
Volunteering at the Blue Angels Foundation table, Terry Mauer of the Florida SBDC joked their strategy was to overwhelm tasters with their giant plates of smoked beef molé chilaquiles with avocado hollandaise.
“Our goal is to fill everyone up so they don’t have room to taste any of the other food!” Mauer said with a laugh.
Tasked with picking Judges’ Choice winners were local culinary experts Chef Dan Vargo from Fine Coastal Cuisine, Chef Dave Bishop of Bud & Alley’s, Chef Gary Serafin of Emerald Coast Catering and Chef Mimmo La Innusa from Mimmo’s Ristorante Italiano.
“We’re judging on taste, presentation and uniqueness, but also different ways the teams are able to use the Green Egg.” – Chef Dan Vargo
“Of course we’re judging on taste, presentation and uniqueness, but also different ways the teams are able to use the Green Egg,” explained Vargo. “There are a few here that really used it on every aspect on their plate, from the oil to the spice rub to the bread – everything. It’s always fun to see cooks that aren’t professional cooks and what they can do.”
Vargo was especially pleased to be involved with this year’s event after the 2020 EggFest was cancelled due to the pandemic.
“It’s great to see people out and about,” he said. “The event does great things for the community charities, and of course we’re all benefiting from the social aspect of it.”
Knob Creek Bourbon was back as an event sponsor, offering its own tier of awards for the cook teams that incorporated the Kentucky whiskey into their dishes.
In addition to ticket sales – which Kiley estimated exceeded 600 – additional funds were raised through a raffle drawing for everything from a MiniMax Big Green Egg to a condo stay, with all of the day’s proceeds benefiting Food For Thought and Fisher House of the Emerald Coast.
Knob Creek Best Bite
1 – South Walton Academy The Eggstras 2 – BE-CI 3 – Food For Thought Get Out the Grill Honorable Mention – Premier Group Honorable Mention – Confidential BBQ
1 – Healing Paws 4 Warriors – $3,000 2 – South Walton Academy The Eggstras – $2,000 3 – Boys & Girls Club of the Emerald Coast – $1,000 3 – Sinfonia Gulf Orchestra – $1,000
Judges’ Choice trophies
1 – Brock Landscaping/Fisher House 2 – Blue Angels 3 – Saltwater Grill
Taster’s Choice prizes
1 – Healing Paws 4 Warriors – XL Big Green Egg 2 – Saltwater Restaurants – Large Big Green Egg 3 – BE-CI – MiniMax Big Green Egg
Photos by Michelle Farnham
Cajun shrimp with gouda grits
Brock Landscaping’s Cajun shrimp with gouda grits took the judge’s trophy.
Chef Gio Filippone of Mama Clemenza’s offered his talents to South Walton Academy, bringing his bacon-wrapped venison rolls with banana pepper.
Chef Kyle Swift of Blue Mountain Bakery collaborated with Healing Paws 4 Warriors.
Mike Sturdivant of Walton Skate Society served edible skateboards.
It was blue skies and barbecue at the seventh annual EggFest!
The chicken wings from Boys & Girls Club tied for third in the non-profit division.
Proceeds to benefit Habitat for Humanity – Walton County
Special to 30A Food and Wine Oct. 15, 2021
MIRAMAR BEACH – The Market Shops is pleased to announce the lineup for the sixth annual Bloody Mary Festival Saturday, Oct. 23 from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the shopping center.
Local establishments, including Alys Beach, Bijoux Restaurant + Spirits, Bitterroot, Camille’s at Crystal Beach, Cannery Lane Cantina, Emeril’s Coastal, The Henderson, Jackacuda’s Seafood and Sushi, La Crema Tapas & Chocolate, Local Catch, Old Florida Fish House, Ovide, Signature Catering of 30A, Stinky’s Fish Camp, The Beach House, The Chef’s Table Catering, The Grove, The Henderson, and The Perfect Pig, will create their own spin on the classic bloody Mary, made with Distillery 98’s Dune Laker Vodka. Each participating restaurant will have their own tent, allowing for social distancing in an open-air setting.
A panel of select foodies will judge each bloody Mary to select the winners for the most delicious and most creative. There will also be a highly coveted first-, second-, and third-place People’s Choice Award, tallied by Hill Coleman, CPA.
For a $40 donation to attend, guests are invited to enjoy all 18 variations of bloody Marys served in specialty cups provided by Compass Builders of Florida and Frillseekers Gifts. There will also be food from the restaurants located directly in The Market Shops, including Ben & Jerrys, Bijoux Restaurants + Spirits, Clean Juice, Jon Smith Subs, Maple Street Biscuit Company, Parlor Doughnuts and Pizza by the Sea.
Idyll Hounds will be serving craft brews while the Bubbly Bar will be serving champagne, provided by Hey Mama Wines and sponsored by Courtyard by Marriott Sandestin at Grand Boulevard, Residence Inn by Marriott Sandestin at Grand Boulevard, and the Hyatt Place by Marriott Sandestin at Grand Boulevard. Guests will be able to cool off with alcohol-infused popsicles provided by Swell Pops and a hydration station by Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices PenFed Realty. A lounge area with additional seating and cornhole games provided by Vacayzen will be set up on the main lawn, along with SEC football streaming on the big screen courtesy of Insurance Zone.
Enjoy a commemorative photo booth by Epic Photo Co. courtesy of Legendary Marine, music by DJ Dad, a cigar bar by Shore Thing Cigars, and exclusive shopping opportunities from The Market Shops merchants. Headlining the event will be a live performance from Dread Clampitt on the main stage brought to you by Carter & Company CPA, LLC.
Parking will be available at The Market Shops on the day of the festival but is expected to fill up fast. There will be additional parking available at The Beach House located in Sandestin Golf and Beach Resort and a complimentary shuttle, provided by Emerald Coast Luxury Transportation courtesy of Beachworx, will travel to and from the festival from 10:30 a.m. until 3 p.m.
Tickets are currently on sale through 850Tix for the pre-sale price of $40 or can be purchased the day of the event at the door for $60. To learn more about The Market Shops Bloody Mary Festival and to buy tickets, visit www.themarketshops.com. If you would like to volunteer for Habitat for Humanity on the day of the event, please email email@example.com.
SEAGROVE BEACH – Imagine that all of your favorite beach foods could be found in one place, and it was a place that felt like a vacationer’s escape and coming home all at the same time. A place that was a short stroll from the Gulf, serving up shrimp, burgers, crab cakes, and a fried grouper sandwich so good you may have to head back out front to make sure you didn’t cross through the pearly gates before placing your order.
“The best compliment we’ve ever been given is that we preserved a large part of Seagrove history and that it feels like ‘family.’” – Ann Hartley, co-owner
The success of the Seagrove Village MarketCafé is due largely in part to the simple perfection of the food, but maybe even more is that the restaurant itself feels so familiar and welcoming that both visitors and locals claim it as an old friend and have for years.
Co-owner Ann Hartley of the Hartley Restaurant Group (with husband George) takes great pride in the MarketCafé and its place in the history of Seagrove and the hearts of its residents.
“The best compliment we’ve ever been given is that we preserved a large part of Seagrove history and that it feels like ‘family’ in that sweet little spot … serving yummy food that multiple generations have loved for years,” she said.
In fact, it’s often the first stop for out-of-towners when arriving in town, and the Hartleys have become an unofficial welcome wagon.
“George has often been called the ‘mayor’ of Seagrove!” Ann laughed.
In true 30A local fashion, the restaurant operates on beach time and does not take reservations, so show up early and expect a small crowd. What is it about the food that warrants a packed house?
“George’s short answer that he learned from Ernie and Betsy (prior owners) is to buy it fresh, cook it to order and serve it with a smile!” Ann explained.
Nibbles and Favorites
A mouthwatering ‘Nibbles’ menu offers a nice start, including Smoked Tuna Dip, Fried Okra, Jalapeño Pimento Dip, Basket of Hushpuppies, or the Nibbles Trio (a sampling of three choices). The MarketCafé’s famous Gumbo is well worth ordering, made with shrimp, chicken, andouille sausage and fried okra. Traditional beach fare baskets are a popular choice, featuring fried oysters, shrimp, fish, crab cakes or a combination of these, served with two sides and hushpuppies, and any selection can be fried, blackened, or grilled.
The Favorites menu is aptly named, with delightful choices like BBQ Shrimp and Grits (with Cajun butter sauce over cheese grits, served with one side and Texas Toast), Chicken and Waffles (three fried, grilled or blackened tenders, a Belgian waffle and maple syrup), and Grouper Tacos (two tacos fried, grilled or blackened served with poblano lime tartar sauce, Pico de Gallo, and one side).
The MarketCafé’s burgers, sandwiches, and po’boys are events in themselves, with selections that include the BBQ Bacon Burger, Andouille and Shrimp Po Boy, Philly Cheese Steak, Crab Cake Sandwich, Chicken Sandwich, a Fried Green Tomato BLT, Buffalo Chicken Wrap, and the Surfing Deer Vegan Burger.
“My favorite thing on the menu is the fried grouper sandwich,” Ann admitted. “I’ve loved it since the first day we ever went in. But, the fried shrimp po boy and all its yummy-ness is the reason we bought the MarketCafé in 1999! And back then the kitchen was electric burners and FryDaddies. It’s a hoot remembering it back then: a grocery with the restaurant in back!“
The Seagrove Village MarketCafé is located at 2976 South Highway 395 in Seagrove Beach, and is open Monday through Saturday from 10:30 a.m. to 8:30 p.m., and Sundays from 10:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Although reservations are not accepted, you can find out more by calling 850-231-5736 or visiting www.seagrovevillagemarket.com.