Seagar’s: Watching the season evolve on the plate

By Michelle Farnham
March 19, 2024

SANDESTIN – When preparing his seasonal menus, Seagar’s Prime Steaks & Seafood Executive Chef Fleetwood Covington III often draws inspiration from several sources. Whether it is childhood meals, his culinary peers, or the season itself, a dedication to the highest quality ingredients is always top of mind.

Covington, who was recently announced as the Honorary Chef of the 2024 Destin Charity Wine Auction slated for next month, recently debuted his spring menu, just in time for the season. This time around, he wanted to take a very cerebral approach to his food, while enjoying the development of flavor as the season progresses.

Filet carpaccio
Filet carpaccio

“Spring is a three-month timeline for us, you’ll see the garnish flowers will open up a bit more, you’ll see the season evolve on the plate,” he pointed out. “If you’re going to deep dive how a menu transitions through the seasons, for example, the heirloom tomatoes aren’t going to taste the same in March as they are going to do in May.”

For his first course of the debut chef’s tasting menu, the kitchen put out a wagyu filet carpaccio with confit capers, basil and dijon emulsion – a departure from the steak tartare he’s done the past few seasons – completed with his signature “functional” garnish of edible flowers.

The new diver scallop appetizer, however, was actually a serendipitous find.

“We had spilled two different sauces on a plate, and I immediately stopped everybody and was like, ‘Oh, we have to figure this out,’” Covington admitted.

Diver scallop appetizer
Diver scallop appetizer

Here a perfectly cooked scallop rests atop a swirl of a black caviar beurre blanc and a green asparagus velouté. The design is created by the differing densities of the sauces, and is complemented by confit potatoes, done in both bacon then duck fat.

There are few things that say “spring” quite like a strawberry salad, and here Chef references a smoked strawberry salad his grandmother used to make.

Strawberry salad
Strawberry salad

“I just wanted to make a really just super simple, not overworked, not over-tweezered, just an easy salad,” he explained. He combines arugula, roasted red endive, Spanish long-stemmed strawberries, strawberry gastrique, all atop freeze-dried strawberry powder done with port wine.

When it came to his swordfish and grouper entrees, Covington took a page from Michelin Star Chef Eric Ripert.

Grouper with caulilini
Grouper with caulilini

“Some of the best fish I’ve ever had was the simplest, not overworked, not overthought fish,” he said. “I think a lot of times when seafood dishes are overworked, the protein takes a backseat, and when we’re on the gulf, I think that’s just counterproductive – especially when you spend all this time responsibly sourcing stuff, and you get it on a plate and it’s masked by all this stuff.”

He also hopped on the caulilini trend, incorporating the Asian vegetable variety known for its long, edible stems and blonde, open florets.

For the final course, Chef served a seared scallop entree with a spring truffle risotto, dill and crème fraiche.

“When I eat risotto, I really want creamy, creamy, creamy with a lot of fat,” he admitted. The crème fraiche is made in-house – a month-long process – while the Chesapeake Bay diver scallops get a treatment of bacon fat and white alba truffle oil.

Scallop with truffle risotto
Scallop with truffle risotto

The kitchen concluded the feast with Seagar’s famous table-side bananas Foster and chocolate soufflé.

Seagar’s is located at 4000 Sandestin Blvd. South, Miramar Beach, within the Hilton Sandestin Beach Golf Resort & Spa. Dinner reservations are accepted Tuesday through Saturday, with service beginning at 5:30 p.m.

Photos by Michelle Farnham