July 21, 2020
By Liesel Schmidt
ALYS BEACH – Since opening in 2008, George’s at Alys Beach has been a landmark of fantastic food in a beautiful location, with a unique personality – one that starts with the iconic frog on their logo. A whimsical reference to its founding owners and a humorous story involving a wedding gift featuring frogs, the friendly-looking amphibian that has become inexorably linked with George’s is also greatly indicative of what the restaurant always strives to be: different.
“We believe people can feel our Southern charm as soon as they enter the restaurant, and they know they are in for a delicious meal.” – Christy Spell Terry, co-owner
That difference is noticeable in the atmosphere, a “casually coastal” setting surrounded on three sides by porches that give the place a true Southern feel. Naturally, they have their very own Lily Pad, a charming courtyard area which provides dining space and a breathtaking view of 30A and Alys Beach. “We believe people can feel our Southern charm as soon as they enter the restaurant, and they know they are in for a delicious meal from a staff who truly cares about their experience,” said Christy Spell Terry, who has co-owned the restaurant with her father, Rick Spell, as part of Spell Restaurant Group since 2015.
Behave or Misbehave?
All that casualness, however, is in direct contradiction to what really brings people here: the food. “Upscale” is the word that leaps to mind, but the menu manages to take preciousness off the table and replace it with tongue-in-cheek humor. It’s actually divided into two parts: “Behave” and “Misbehave” – the culinary equivalent of the devil and angel on your shoulder. And while they focus on the flavors and ingredients available on the Gulf Coast while enhancing them with their chef’s own global twist, they manage to give their diners pause over which side of the debate will win.
For those determined to “Behave,” the menu offers items such as Jerk Crusted Gulf Snapper and Seared Yellowfin Tuna, two dishes that are deceptively kind to the diet while their flavor still seems sinful. True to the idea of wanting to “Misbehave,” decadent items like the Apple Cider Brined Berkshire Pork Chop, George’s famous Spicy Salt & Pepper Shrimp, the Lobster Quesadilla, and the Seared Sea Scallops are a great temptation filled with indulgence. To “Behave” or “Misbehave?” So becomes the question…
In the kitchen
Making that question all the harder to answer is Executive Chef Camille Withall, who brings her international flair to bear in the kitchen. Born and raised in Manila, Philippines, she learned invaluable native flavors and techniques from her mother. After attending the culinary arts program at the American Hospitality Academy in Manila, she moved to the United States in 2008 for an internship in Destin, where she honed her skills at the Sandestin Golf & Beach Resort and Restaurant Fire in Grayton Beach. She joined the team at George’s in 2014 as Sous Chef and advanced to Executive Chef in 2015.
All that talent in the kitchen is mirrored by the quality of service in the front of house. “We understand that there are many restaurants to choose from on 30A, and we feel honored that so many visitors choose George’s at Alys Beach,” said Spell Terry. “Our staff strives to make each guest feel like a member of the family when they choose to dine with us.”
George’s also knows the importance of sourcing the best and freshest ingredients, and they do so as a matter of course. “We strive to source as many ingredients as possible from local merchants like WaterStreet Seafood, Buddy Gandy’s Seafood, Southern Craft Creamery, and City Produce. We believe that fresh ingredients help make great dishes,” Spell Terry explained.
From their decidedly whimsical take on upscale food to their charmingly Southern coastal atmosphere, George’s offers an experience that is unique and unforgettable, whether you’ve decided to behave or not.
George’s at Alys Beach is located at 30 Castle Harbour Drive, Alys Beach. Open daily 11 a.m. to 3 p.m; 5 to 9 p.m. Reservations are not accepted. For more information, call 850-641-0017 or visit www.georgesatalysbeach.com.