FOOW: New fish, same waters

March 30, 2020
By Liesel Schmidt

WATERCOLOR – A reincarnation – or reimagining, perhaps – of the restaurant previously known as Fish Out of Water, FOOW officially opened in June 2018 with a new look, a new menu, and a newly refreshed dedication to providing guests with something unique and an atmosphere unlike any other. Find yourself captivated by the view, a landscape framed by massive windows that run along every exterior wall of the expansive, open-plan dining room to welcome in breezes and spill the sunlight that glitters on the Gulf just outside. Whether you take a seat at a table on their outdoor deck or stay inside, this is one restaurant where fantastic views are as much a part of the menu as any of the spectacular dishes created in the kitchen. 

Avocado flatbread
The Avocado Flatbread brings together a symphony of color and flavor.

Magically balancing elegance with a certain air of coastal casualness, they manage to keep the atmosphere bright, airy, and approachable rather than stuffily inaccessible. Reflective of that is their menu, offering a collection of dishes whose Southern roots call to mind Sundays at home, family tradition, and comfort food – just elevated to a new level.

“We felt the need to create a casual and ‘easy’ environment for full families to enjoy in our area, where people are coming to experience the beach and that coastal lifestyle.”

– Matt Moore, executive chef

“We felt the need to create a casual and ‘easy’ environment for full families to enjoy in our area, where people are coming to experience the beach and that coastal lifestyle,” said Executive Chef and Food & Beverage Director Matt Moore. “We invite flip-flops and guests directly off the beach, yet we do it keeping the integrity of what we stand for.”

Named “Chef of the Year” in 2017 by the American Culinary Federation, Moore has more than a decade of experience leading acclaimed food and beverage programs at luxury properties throughout the South, and that level of skill is clearly evident in all that he does. 

The 6-ounce beef filet comes with choice of sauce and side, two hushpuppies, and seasonal vegetables.

Perfect for a casual lunch, FOOW serves up a selection of salads, sandwiches, buckets, and tacos, not to mention their signature artisan breads – all of which put an undeniably unique spin on things. Paying delicious homage to the South, the Sweet Tea Chicken Sandwich features succulent chicken breast topped with arugula, tomato, and house-made pickles nestled in a buttery brioche bun, then slathered with Sweet Tea Bourbon Glaze and served fried to crunchy perfection or grilled.

As the sun begins to set, dinner options dive into deeper waters and run further afield, offering entrees for every predilection – be it land or sea – whose exquisite flavors play perfectly in harmony with the views unfolding all around. For a true taste of local beauty, try Whole Boat Line-Caught Snapper, or bite into bayou country with Louisiana Gulf Shrimp.

“Casual environments often lead some to believe that it requires a less talented force to execute, yet we’ve been successful in overcoming that stereotype,” Moore said. “Our menu is locally sourced, always fresh, and always made creatively in-house, with a passion that’s really representative of who we are as a team.”

In saying so, Chef Moore does not speak out of turn, nor does he offer up false promises of what one might expect to see gracing their plates. Expertise, creativity, and an acute awareness of the importance of presentation, flavor profiles, and technique are clear in every aspect of the menu, regardless of what’s on order. From appetizer to entrée to that last sweet kiss of one of their decadent, imaginative desserts, FOOW is everything one would wish for in a restaurant so ideally situated – and these waters are definitely worth diving into. 

FOOW is located at WaterColor Inn, 34 Goldenrod Circle, Santa Rosa Beach. Open daily from 11:30 a.m. to 9 p.m.; FOOWBar is open daily 11:30 a.m. to 10 p.m. with daily Happy Hour from 3 to 5 p.m. Reservations not accepted. For more information, call 850-534-5050 or visit