By Michelle Farnham
MIRAMAR BEACH – Executive Chef Lee Guidry and staff have re-opened Seagar’s Prime Steaks & Seafood following the annual January “refresh,” a time to refinish the flooring, replace the china and generally maintain the restaurant’s fine dining ambiance.
Also refreshed is Guidry’s winter menu, featuring heartier dishes, largely prepared using a “slow food” approach. Think braised meats, house-made paté, smoked proteins – real comfort food.
Starting with cold appetizers, Chef presented his charcuterie and cheese board, featuring country paté, made from pork butt, pork liver, duck confit and black truffle. A quartet of cheese was accented by house-made cherry mustard and pickles, and smoked duck breast.
The Prime filet mignon beef Carpaccio stood tall, adorned with marinated artichoke hearts, a dressed salad of baby arugula and red onion, shaved ricotta salata, and toasted pine nuts.
“It’s a very, very simple dressing of lemon and olive oil to enhance the flavor,” Guidry explained.
For the salad course, the roasted candy-stripe red and golden beet salad utilized ribbons of Bibb lettuce tossed in a champagne vinaigrette, goat cheese, candied pistachio, and beet chips.
“It’s basically beets two ways,” Guidry acknowledged. “The chips we put into a simple syrup and dehydrate them, so they have a little sweetness to them to counteract the earthiness.”
You would be hard-pressed to find a restaurant that makes more of its menu in-house. From the steak sauce to the pickles to even the crackers – which Guidry revealed he runs through the pasta roller to get consistently flat – the Seagar’s staff creates it in the kitchen from scratch.
Among the hot apps, Chef said he went “old-school” with a very classic duck cassoulet, unexpectedly garnished with a duck leg bone. He filled the rustic French bowl with a duck confit, pork belly, mirepoix, and white beans, all baked under puff pastry.
He served his take on steak fries: baked potatoes that have been simply sliced as thick rounds before being deep-fried. They are delicate and tender on the inside with a satisfyingly crispy skin exterior, seasoned with rosemary, thyme, and parsley, and offered with a Camembert fondue.
A dish of tempura jumbo lump blue crab comes served over a warm salad of Napa cabbage, carrots, red onion, bell pepper, cilantro, and ginger dressing.
Moving on to entrees, Seagar’s keeps its meat dishes fairly consistent year-round, but Guidry likes to put his own spin on seafood as the season allows, staying local as often as possible. His sautéed snapper revisited the white beans from the cassoulet, along with wilted spinach and warm Gulf shrimp salad.
The pan-roasted black grouper is over a king crab and roasted red pepper risotto with julienne vegetables, finished with a roasted shallot and basil beurre blanc.
To complete the meal, Guidry offered a selection of homemade frozen desserts, including the not-to-be-missed coconut sorbet. His staff generally makes two to three sorbets and three to four ice creams daily, with a homemade vanilla ice cream coming to the menu in the near future.
To finish on a warmer note, he offered a winter spice and Grand Marnier-poached Bosc pear, bruléed with turbinado sugar.
“The pear itself has been cored out and stuffed with mascarpone, a little bit of vanilla bean, lemon zest, and orange zest,” Guidry said. “On the plate is a walnut butter and a crumble of walnut and maple shortbread.”
The winter menu will have a short release – only two months – before Guidry rolls out his spring offerings. Seagar’s Prime Steaks & Seafood, located at 4000 Sandestin Blvd. South, is open Tuesday to Thursday from 6 to 9 p.m., and from 6 to 10 p.m. Friday and Saturday.