April 4, 2020
By Liesel Schmidt
ROSEMARY BEACH – When it comes to creating a successful restaurant, it takes more than just a great concept or an interesting hook. It takes an understanding of the market, a keen sense of business, and – of course – a master to lead and direct the kitchen.
The Pearl Hotel’s Havana Beach Bar and Grill could not have assembled a more fitting team when they chose Executive Chef Todd Rogers to take on that role, pairing him with The Pearl’s Food & Beverage Director Kevin Dixon to bring the flavors of Cuba to the plate. After all, for a restaurant whose concept centers around the cuisine of such a passionate culture, it requires the skill of someone with an equally matched passion for cooking. The menu of food and drinks offer enough complexity and flavor to make every bite and sip an experience to remember.
Havana Beach’s menu is, in fact, a little taste of the Old Town Havana so beloved by Ernest Hemingway, blended with the local flavors of the Emerald Coast. Food is prepared with the precision and dedication of the most skilled cigar roller, plated and presented with pride and passion. Fittingly enough, the dining room has the look and feel of a cigar room, blended with an airiness that could only come from being so very close to the sea. Here, you’ll find the perfect place to relax in the warm glow of its intimate spaces, a place where food and drink are savored like a slow sunset as a cigar burns down to the stub. To merely say that this is a restaurant would be to discredit it, to disrespect all that is offered when a dish is prepared by the hands of a chef as impassioned as Chef Rogers.
“We want our dining experience to entice all of the senses, from the very first moment our guests are greeted and have that carry through in each and every course they enjoy.”
– Executive Chef Todd Rogers
“We want our dining experience to entice all of the senses, from the very first moment our guests are greeted and have that carry through in each and every course they enjoy,” said Rogers, whose 30 years as a chef have allowed him to explore the world through its food. And at Havana Beach, the diner has the very great honor of being his guest on a trip to Cuba, without ever having to leave their table.
Not surprisingly, favorites include Coastal Seafood Fritters and Local Caught Grouper as well as some of their newest Latin-inspired creations such as the Three Little Pigs pork sampler and Hemingway’s Mariscos – a mouth-watering array of local fish and seafood served with spicy chorizo and zucchini. Perfect for anyone looking for something on the lighter side is the Havana Beach Salad, though Rogers insists that their decadent desserts are not to be missed.
“Our pastry chef is fabulous, so we have been able to extend our pastry and fresh bread offerings,” he said.
“We’re passionate about what we do and want to create an experience that exceeds everyone’s expectations,” Rogers continued. “To do that, we make the majority of all our menu items in-house or work closely with local and regional purveyors to ensure that we get the freshest, most locally sourced ingredients possible, and that shines through in the quality and flavor of the dishes we present. It’s a special experience to have a Gulf-front restaurant that’s truly serving a taste of place beyond just seafood, and we’re very proud of that.”
So, too, are they proud of their beverage program, offering creative, seasonally inspired, handcrafted cocktails that engage all of the senses in addition to a curated wine and beer selection that pairs perfectly with the cuisine.
In as much as each spice and sauce flavors the food at Havana Beach Bar & Grill, so does it reveal talent and pride and quality, taking the diner on an adventure and leaving them looking forward to their next trip back.
Havana Beach Bar and Grill is located in The Pearl Hotel, 63 Main Street, Rosemary Beach. Open daily for breakfast from 8 to 11 a.m.; lunch from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Open daily for dinner 5 to 10 p.m. Bar hours run 9 a.m. to 10:30 p.m. with a daily happy hour from 3 to 6 p.m. Reservations not accepted. For more information, visit www.thepearlrb.com or call 850-588-2882.