SANDESTIN – This Mother’s Day, Hotel Effie, located at the Sandestin Golf and Beach Resort is offering a relaxing retreat to the special women in your life. Guests who book by Friday, May 12 save 20% off when booking two or more nights for a stay between Thursday, May 11, and Sunday, May 14, with complimentary late checkout on Sunday, May 14.
The on-site restaurant Ovide invites her to enjoy delectable dishes, live music and more with a special Mother’s Day Brunch. Guests who take advantage of the celebratory offers at Hotel Effie save 10% when they reserve a table for Mother’s Day Brunch at Ovide. Brunch is priced at $90 per person, excluding gratuity and tax, $25 for children under 12 years old, free of charge for children under 5.
Breakfast includes eggs Benedict, bacon and sausage, and vegetable frittata. Guests can enjoy an omelet station, French toast bar and stone ground grit bar, complete with all of the toppings and inclusions. Entrees and seafood include prime rib, roasted red snapper, gnocchi and bagel and lox, which can be paired with an assortment of salads and sides. Dessert includes peaches ‘n cream, Nutella and mascarpone cannoli, blueberry cobbler and more. Reservations are available from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. and can be made via Resy.
Pamper Mom with a rejuvenating spa day at Spa Lilliana and receive 10% off spa treatments with promo code MOM23 while booking. Dedicated to well-being and self-care treatments on the second floor of Hotel Effie, Spa Lilliana features a menu of relaxing treatments using quality skincare products like OSEA and Biologique Recherche.
SANDESTIN – Dubbed “The Kentucky Derby of wine festivals,” the Sandestin Wine Festival is back for its 36th installment this April. Rain or shine, guests come to choose from hundreds of wines to sip, and dine on a selection of local eateries’ offerings.
The party gets started with the official kick-off Thursday night at The Village Door from 7 to 9 p.m.
Gourmet food and wine pairings will take place at merchants throughout the Village of Baytowne Wharf all four nights.
Two days of Grand Tastings feature table after table of vintners, pouring everything from Riesling to Cab Sav and plenty in between. Friday from 5 to 8 p.m. and Saturday 1 to 4 p.m., guests can taste as many varieties as they choose, making notes of favorites along the way. Savor South Walton tents will dot the grounds, featuring some of Baytowne Wharf and South Walton’s best restaurants and their kitchen crews. Sample bites from steak to seafood to sweets.
Ticket-holders 21 and over are given a wristband and tasting glass, meaning non-drinking guests are welcome to enjoy the festivities as well. The heartiest of wine enthusiasts can opt for the 2-day Grand Tasting ticket to enjoy a discount, while supplies last. VIP lounge tickets have already sold out.
Yoga, mimosas and the beach converge for a morning of relaxation during Saturday’s Seas the Day session, starting at 9 a.m. Enjoy a good stretch and a sip at this yoga class held at the Sandestin Beach Access, presented by Hotel Effie & Spa Lilliana. If rain dampens the zen, the event moves indoors to Hotel Effie.
Round out the weekend with the New Orleans Bottomless Brunch held Sunday from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Pick from two seatings, 10 or 11:30 a.m. to enjoy a creole menu, bottomless mimosas and a bloody Mary bar.
All this fun is for a good cause, as proceeds of the Sandestin Wine Festival benefit its longtime charities: Fisher House of the Emerald Coast – providing a home away from home for military families – and Sandestin Foundation for Kids, helping local children in need.
“Last year we raised a combined total of $45,000 for our charities,” explained Village of Baytowne Wharf Events Manager Kensley Brooks. “They are a big part of helping the Sandestin Wine Festival run day-of. They help out by volunteering as pourers, ticket scanners, runners, set up, clean up, etc. We really couldn’t do it without them and we can’t thank them enough.”
The Sandestin Wine Festival weekend is slated for April 13 to 16, 2023, throughout the grounds of the Sandestin Golf and Beach Resort in Miramar Beach. For more information including ticket sales, food vendors and the Taster’s Guide, visit www.sandestinwinefestival.com.
SOUTH WALTON – A trio of local eateries are welcoming guests for special Easter brunch Sunday, April 9, while WaterColor is offering holiday meals to-go or delivered.
Havana Beach Bar & Grill
9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Enjoy buffet fare featuring brunch specialties, a prime rib carving station, chilled seafood bar, kids’ selections, desserts and more. The price is $85 for adults, $45 for children 12 & under. Call 850-588-2882 to make your reservations and inquire about the full menu.
7 a.m. to 5 p.m. The culinary team is opening the restaurant early and offering a chef selection of springtime favorites, along with a Mimosa Bar and Dessert Bar. Reservations are not accepted; walk-ins welcome.
10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Enjoy an egg-travagant Easter Brunch at the WaterColor Lakehouse, including an extensive breakfast menu, omelet station, salad garden, seafood bar, carving station, hot selections and kids’ cuisine. Email WCISocialEvents@stjoe.com for reservations; cost is $85 per adult, $42.50 per child ages 6 to 12, and complimentary for children 5 and under.
Easter Brunch To-Go or home delivery within WaterColor
The WaterColor team is offering a family-style Easter Brunch for four to-go, and delivering within the WaterColor neighborhood. 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. delivery or pick up; place your order by emailing WCISocialEvents@stjoe.com by noon on Friday, April 7. Price is $275. Pickup location is Gather Kitchen + Bar, at 34 Goldenrod Circle in WaterColor.
The meal starts with coastal greens salad, chicken and vegetable soup. Mains and sides include blackened shrimp with yellow grits and tomato gravy, roasted prime rib with horseradish cream and red wine jus, loaded mashed potatoes, honey roasted carrots and rolls. For dessert: carrot cake with spiced cream cheese frosting, French silk pie with Nilla wafer crust. Kids can enjoy carrots and celery with ranch dip, chicken tenders with BBQ sauce, Easter cupcakes and mixed fruit salad.
SANDESTIN – Ovide at Hotel Effie Sandestin is hosting a special Easter brunch buffet on Sunday, April 9. Locals and travelers alike can enjoy delectable dishes, live music and more. Brunch is priced at $95 per person, excluding gratuity and tax, $25 for children under 12 years old, and free of charge for children under 5.
The buffet features various stations where guests can savor the taste of traditional favorites and new, innovative dishes. The breakfast station includes scrambled eggs, eggs Benedict, bacon, sausage and cocktail shrimp, made with lemons, cocktail and tartar sauce. In the action station, guests can enjoy a fresh omelet with assorted toppings and a french toast bar complete with fruits, whipped cream, peanut butter, Nutella and chocolate chips.
Guests can pair assorted breads and rolls with fresh salads like the spinach and kale salad with seasonal berries, goat cheese, pistachio, red onion and black pepper honey vinaigrette, or a wedge salad with bacon lardons, blue cheese, heirloom tomatoes and buttermilk dressing.
At the carving station, guests can indulge in prime rib with horseradish cream, leg of lamb with mustard mint jus, salmon with beurre blanc and glazed ham with maple jus. Glazed carrots, mac and cheese, mashed potatoes, cream corn and crispy Brussels sprout are featured in the sides station to pair with any dish. Make sure to save room for dessert, including banana pudding, carrot cake, strawberry cheesecake, lemon bars and assorted cookies.
Brunch will be hosted at Hotel Effie at the Sandestin Golf and Beach Resort, where guests can enjoy an upscale ambiance and indulge in a combination of local Gulf Coast flavors and classic French techniques. Reservations are available from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. and can be made on Resy.
SANDESTIN – This Thanksgiving, locals and travelers visiting the Emerald Coast can remove the holiday stress from their plate, leaving room for extra turkey and mashed potatoes. Guests of Ovide, the ground-floor restaurant at Sandestin’s Hotel Effie, can choose from two chef-driven holiday meals for the whole family:
Thanksgiving Brunch at Ovide
Perfect for hotel guests and locals, skip the clean-up and dine in at Ovide, Hotel Effie’s in-house restaurant. Ovide, the restaurant by award-winning celebrity chef and 2-time James Beard nominee, Hugh Acheson, is offering a feast of roasted turkey, cornbread stuffing, savory gravy, Effie’s iconic homemade biscuits and much more.
This experience includes a seafood buffet alongside a family-style dinner, including starters, salads, entrees, sides, and delicious desserts to taste. Brunch is available from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. for $65 per person and $30 for children under 12. Make reservations here or call 850-351-3030 by Nov. 18.
Thanksgiving Fall Dinner
Leave your cooking utensils at home and enjoy an elegant home-cooked meal at Ovide with all the flavor and none of the stress. This elevated Thanksgiving dinner features a three-course meal with an array of all your favorite fall classics. Ovide’s chic, well-appointed interior and sophisticated ambiance is the perfect setting for a heart-warming meal with loved ones. Make reservations here or call 850-351-3030 by Nov. 18.
Hotel Effie is located at 1 Grand Sandestin Blvd., in Miramar Beach.
INLET BEACH – Canopy Road Café’s new 30-A restaurant, located at 12805 US-98, promises to shake up the old breakfast routines of locals and tourists alike. This isn’t your grandmother’s bacon-and-eggs breakfast joint.
From whimsical dishes like Fat Elvis pancakes (in case you were wondering: peanut butter and banana pancakes filled with chopped bacon and topped with a peanut butter drizzle), to customized skillets with every ingredient under the Emerald Coast sun – Canopy Road Café has you covered.
Children will love Canopy Road Café because they aren’t treated as an afterthought. When they see that plate of Cookies and Cream French Toast headed their way, the expression on their faces is priceless. And when they take a picture of it and send it to their friends, you’ll know you picked the right breakfast spot.
But Canopy Road Café isn’t all sprinkles and whipped cream – there is something for the entire family. From five different “benedict” dishes to handhelds, omelets and house favorites, every breakfast base is covered.
And if the lunch hour has arrived, you can dig into an Angus burger, fries and wash it all down with a cold beer before heading back to work or the beach.
Canopy Road Café is the creation of Brad Buckenheimer and David Raney, college buddies who worked at a Tallahassee diner but knew they eventually wanted to start their own business.
Now, Canopy Road Café is taking off with eight locations sprinkled throughout the state and more on the way.
“We love what we do, and we love making people happy,” said Brad. “Smiles and sighs are our goal – smiles because breakfast was fun and sighs because they were satisfied.”
Brad and Dave are Florida boys who honor their roots – all of the meat and produce served at the restaurant come from the Sunshine State.
“We use local art in the restaurants, local vendors and cater to locals first,” Dave said. “Local diners will find that it doesn’t take long for our staff to learn their names and what they like. We hire local people and treat them well to keep turnover at the minimum.”
Open from 6:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. daily, Canopy Road Café is located at 12805 US-98, Inlet Beach, within the 30Avenue complex. Find them online at www.canopyroadcafe.com.
SANTA ROSA BEACH – While opening a restaurant in the midst of a pandemic and the resultant shutdowns may be an incredible leap of faith, for owners Clint Machamer and Sean Merideth, the uncertainty was worth the risk in the face of reward. Open since May of 2020, The Grove 30A has become a local hotspot for casual beach dining, focusing on brunch, small plates, specialty sandwiches, and elaborate charcuterie boards. And then there are the branded buns – literally branded with a hot iron to imprint them with the restaurant’s logo.
“We wanted to create a comfortable and casual space to enjoy good food and great drinks,” said Merideth. “We love being able to see people enjoying the space and atmosphere, so I’d say atmosphere is one major thing that sets us apart from other restaurants in the area. The atmosphere is laid back casual chic, family and ‘fur baby’ friendly. People also appreciate being able to find a place that’s out of the ordinary, with food that is flavorful, fresh, and different, in a place like this, with views like we have. We’re primarily an outdoor dining space, and we regularly host live music, so people love to come here and listen while they dine or enjoy a drink.”
Offering favorites like the Grove Burger, The Grove 30A proves that even a burger gets their special treatment. Featuring 75/25 ground beef topped with melted American cheese, spicy arugula, crisp bacon, pickles, tomato jam, and Grove burger sauce nestled on a toasted brioche bun, this handheld will require both hands to wrap around its beefiness. For lovers of the classics, The Grove’s Cuban hits all the right notes: smoked pork, prosciutto, pickles, and mustard piled onto a hoagie before being pressed for even greater flavor. For a more refreshing, light dish, the Seared Ahi Tuna Tacos are a must. Seared ahi tuna, avocado, cucumber, ginger, and toasted sesame seeds all come together in harmony in a flour tortilla and are finished with wasabi aioli and ponzu.
For a great start to the meal, bacon-wrapped dates take top billing, while black bean hummus throws convention to the wayside. Snapper ceviche brings a bright simplicity to one of the area’s best fish.
Brunch welcomes the day with Eggs Benedict, featuring seared prosciutto and perfectly poached eggs cradled by a toasted English muffin with a tangy citrus hollandaise sauce, accompanied by home fried potatoes. For a more decadent take on French toast, The Grove makes theirs using thick-sliced brioche, topped with seasonal fruit and house made bourbon maple syrup. Avocado toasts offer a healthy option, with smashed avocado, pickled red onion, crumbled feta, and basil on toasted sourdough bread.
What has made – and kept – them successful is, of course, the quality of the food and their attention to detail. “We make many of our items in house, a few examples being our Grove burger sauce, tomato jam, and apple chutney,” said Merideth, who, along with Machamer and a couple young cooks, are responsible for the magic that comes from the kitchen, including the ordering, the prep, and the cooking. “Together, we have over 30 years of restaurant experience and knowledge, and every day, we learn something new,” said Merideth.
What keeps Merideth and Machamer going is, of course, their guests. “Our favorite thing about owning a restaurant is the reward of seeing satisfied guests and returning customers,” said Merideth. “It’s not easy and can be extremely stressful, but it’s rewarding.”
The Grove 30A is located at 3375 County Road 30A, Santa Rosa Beach. For more information, call 850-660-1594 or visit their Facebook page facebook.com/thegrove30a. Reservations accepted. Open Tuesday through Thursday 3 to 9 p.m.; Friday through Saturday 10 a.m. to 10 p.m.; Sunday 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.
MIRAMAR BEACH – Having recently turned 50, Chef Giovanni Filippone has a lot to look back on across the five decades of his life.
A French-born Italian, Filippone grew up in a Sicilian family that emigrated to New Jersey after living in France, giving him a culturally diverse background that is obvious in his cuisine – not to mention his vocabulary. Speaking French, Italian, and “screwed up English,” or what he terms “Jerseyish,” Filippone is unapologetically unique and unabashed about being himself, an energetic force of creativity that culminates into dishes that sing with flavor and display an exceptional understanding of nuance.
Growing up in Europe with a mother who cooked meals from scratch using fresh ingredients, Filippone was inspired to become a chef – one at least as good as his mother was.
“She really impacted my career the most,” he said. “I grew up with her authentic Sicilian cooking, so that’s really where it all started.”
Where it led was the Culinary Institute of America at Hyde Park in New York, where he honed the natural talent that had been growing in him since childhood. It was an externship at Destin’s iconic Marina Café that brought the young aspiring chef to the Emerald Coast. Naturally, Filippone fell hard and fast for the beauty all around him and the friendliness of the people.
“I’d come from New Jersey and fell in love with the area,” he recalled. “I returned to New Jersey and promised myself I would come back here one day. A few years later, I bought a one-way ticket and moved to paradise.”
Living in paradise, Filippone has become part of the food scene at some of the area’s best restaurants, making his mark and showing just what incredible talent he has. Holding positions as executive chef of Marina Café as well as Beachwalk Cafe, Destin Chops, and Vue on 30a, he went on to become executive chef and managing partner at Mama Clemenza’s European Breakfast in 2019. Partnering with William Dee, the two have created a concept that offers guests decadent European-style breakfast dishes made from scratch.
“It’s a great nod to my roots, as we serve delicious European fare, and the schedule is great because it allows me more time with my wife and children,” said Filippone, who has two daughters with his wife, Jennifer.
A two-time contestant on Fox’s cult hit Hell’s Kitchen, Filippone is somewhat famous, having gone nose-to-nose with Chef Gordon Ramsey on more than one occasion. But fame isn’t what he seeks; rather, he simply wants to cook – and live at the beach.
“The beaches and the food drew me here when I was searching for externship opportunities,” he said. “Now, I love living here.”
With 30 years of being a chef under his belt, Filippone has a career that has taken him far. And while he may be a long way from the land of his birth and the country that runs deep in his veins, he brings it to his guests, welcoming them to his table and telling a story with every bite.
SANDESTIN – When Hotel Effie opened in February of 2021, it brought with it three new food and beverage opportunities: The Lobby Bar, Ara Rooftop Pool & Lounge, and Ovide, the hotel’s year-round fine dining restaurant.
The menu at Ovide comes from the mind of five-time James Beard nominee Hugh Acheson, 2012 winner of Best Chef Southeast and an alum of Bravo’s “Top Chef” series.
The food coming from the Ovide kitchen combines Gulf coast cuisine with Acheson’s Southern sensibility, then takes it to the next level by adding a French twist. Jesus Pacheco, director of food and beverage of Hotel Effie, said their food is really making waves.
“It’s unique in style; a trendsetter in this area,” Pacheco said. “Whether you’re proposing to your fiancé, or having a night out with the girls, it fits.”
Eats and drinks
Owner and developer Tom Becnel named Hotel Effie after his grandmother, and the Ovide name was borrowed from his grandfather.
“Effie was the ultimate host, her place was the place to be,” said Nova Winfield, assistant hotel marketing director. “We have really embodied that here.”
No place is that link to the past more evident than in Effie’s Biscuit, a menu staple made with salted butter and sorghum, using the actual family recipe.
From the starters menu, Pacheco pointed to the chargrilled octopus as a favorite, with its avocado, jicama and small chili salad.
“To me, it’s something you would never expect and the taste sticks around with you till your next bite,” he said.
One of the biggest brunch-time sellers is the farm egg with crispy rice, served with kimchi, spring onions and oyster mushrooms.
“This dish is thinking outside of the box and describes the culinary aspect of Hugh. It gives you the appreciation of our local cuisine,” Pacheco said.
From the dinner entree menu, he assured diners that Ovide’s pan-roasted snapper with bok choy and Thai chili is unlike anything you’ve had along the Emerald Coast.
“It makes your mouth water, to be honest! It’s our twist on a dish you’ll find everywhere around town, but it gives you that Ovide experience,” Pacheco said.
Beyond the breakfast, lunch, dinner, and kids menus served seven days a week (brunch on weekends), Ovide takes things further yet, welcoming guests to the immensely popular Saturday jazz brunches, special holiday meals, and the occasional celebrity chef dinner when Acheson is in town. Future plans include wine dinners and beer tastings as well.
Speaking of libations, the bar program at Hotel Effie was created by award-winning mixologist Kellie Thorn, always using fresh produce and house-made juices.
“We’ve made it our focus to be able to do those craft cocktails, and have bartenders that can really craft something specific for you,” Pacheco said, adding that the menu changes at least four times a year.
Stepping into an “aww”
The family ties continue in the décor, as Sara Becnel, GM of Sandestin Resort, hand-picked every detail in the restaurant. This marriage of fine dining and fine décor has been called “romantic” and even “sexy” – especially after the sun goes down. Here you’ll find rich, dark woods, warm lighting, and a dramatic floral ceiling mural that might stop you in your tracks.
“Sara took her time to create Instagrammable moments throughout the hotel to encourage people to notice the details – like our ceiling,” Winfield explained. “During brunch it’s a homey, family vibe. At night, it’s hopping, the music is good, the lights are down, the smells coming from the kitchen are amazing. It’s the place to be seen.”
Ovide is found on the ground floor of Hotel Effie, located at 1 Grand Sandestin Blvd., Miramar Beach, within the Sandestin resort. They take reservations and are open year-round for all meals, including weekend brunch. Visit them online at www.hoteleffie.com/dining/ovide or call 850-351-3030.
WATERCOLOR – Traditionally, a “fish out of water” describes someone found out of their element, but Fish Out of Water – also known as FOOW – is a palatable taste experience created by a kitchen staff found entirely in their element. Perhaps more of an homage to the restaurant’s commitment to seafood plucked fresh out of the water, the eatery’s name is topping everyone’s list of “must-eat” places on 30A.
Located at the WaterColor Inn, a St. Joe Hospitality property, Fish Out of Water offers sweeping views of the Gulf, and whether dining with family on vacation, celebrating a night out with friends, or enjoying the romantic gulf breezes with a special date, the restaurant offers just the right atmosphere for a memorable dining experience. And the menu, which features brunch, mid-day fare, and dinner, offers creative twists on coastal favorites, living up to its promise of “authentic cuisine and impeccable flavors.”
Chef Wichuta Theamsuwan, or “Chef Jules,” leads the culinary charge as Fish Out of Water’s kitchen manager. Described by those who know her as a “passionate leader who works hard and expects the best,” Chef Jules works diligently to create a fresh, savory menu and maintain a hard-working, talented kitchen team. The plates traveling from kitchen to table at the restaurant are not only exquisite in taste, but beautiful in presentation.
Chef Jules said the best compliment she’s ever been paid about her food was, “Ooh! Looks so nice! Tastes so good!”
“I believe that we taste first with our eyes, and then with our mouths. So I want the experience to start even before your first bite or even before you smell the dish being served,” she said. “I make sure that my dishes reach our diners looking fantastic, and it is absolutely essential that they taste just as good as they look.”
She chooses salt, herbs, and butter most in flavoring the food, and said, “At Fish Out of Water, we’re able to source such fresh seafood that it doesn’t require a lot more than that. We like to let the ingredients speak for themselves.”
Kristy McKinney, director of restaurants for St. Joe Hospitality, agrees that the freshness of the food is the most important aspect of the menu.
“Our restaurant is situated directly on the Gulf of Mexico, with views of the water, and people want to taste that experience as well as see it. We have fresh seafood delivered to our kitchen every day at Fish Out of Water, and we serve it in a way that lets the natural flavors shine. I like to say that with fresh seafood you don’t have to do a lot to make it taste wonderful, but if it’s not fresh, there’s nothing you can do to save it. So, we would only serve our guests fresh seafood. If we can’t get it fresh, it’s not on the menu.”
Brunch is served from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. daily and features such savory excursions as a Benedict (with a house-made English Muffin, poached egg, and hollandaise, and served with bacon, ham, or sausage and breakfast potatoes), citrus and herb cured salmon (on toasted sourdough with a boiled egg, capers, pickled red onions, roe, and Crème Fraiche), and the FOOWly Loaded BLT, made on toasted sourdough with smoked turkey breast, avocado spread, Cajun aioli, applewood bacon, vine tomato, and farm greens.
A midday menu takes over from 2 to 4 p.m. for Happy Hour and offers Smoked Gulf Coast Fish Dip (with green tomato jalapeño chow-chow, and house-made salt crackers), a Shrimp Salad Roll (on brioche with farm greens, pickled red onion, and tarragon mayonnaise), and a selection of specialty cocktails like the Horsefeather, made with Benchmark Bourbon, lime, ginger beer, Peychaud, and Angostura.
FOOW does not accept reservations and encourages diners to dress casually. The restaurant is open daily from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. and to-go orders may be placed online for curbside pickup. Large groups and families are easily accommodated, and a children’s menu is offered for younger diners. Fish Out of Water is located at 34 Goldenrod Circle and can be reached by calling 850-534-5050 or by visiting www.foow30a.com.