SANDESTIN – Sometimes necessity is the mother of invention. Such was the case with Emeril Lagasse’s newest restaurant right here on the Emerald Coast. While the pandemic forced the temporary closure of Emeril’s Coastal Italian last summer, he and his staff were busy re-imagining the Grand Boulevard eatery.
When the doors reopened in August, guests found a revamped dining room and a new menu, with a renewed focus on seafood. Lagasse and his chef de cuisine, Frank Szymanski, let the ingredients take the lead, creating dishes they themselves want to eat.
“I have always loved seafood and have a connection to cooking with seafood since I was a kid,” Lagasse admitted. “I’ve always felt the food tastes better when you have a connection and appreciation for the ingredients.”
With the Gulf Coast in their backyard, their list of potential local suppliers is as impressive as it was extensive – something Lagasse has believed in throughout his career.
“There are so many hard-working and reliable local purveyors who source these ingredients with care and attention, and I wanted to support what they are doing because it’s so important,” he said. “We are lucky to have such fresh seafood and vegetation in our area that it would be foolish not to use what’s right here and available to us.”
New to the table
So what might you find on the menu at Emeril’s Coastal? Chef pointed out the Fresh Catch section as a fine example of the local seafood his team brings in daily.
“You can get your fish prepared one of four ways: Grilled with sea salt, lemon-garlic infused olive oil and local root vegetables; fried with cocktail sauces, tartar and blue crab hushpuppies; broiled with lemon, fumet butter and bay laurel; or cast-iron preparation with essence, Creole meuniere and a cheddar grit cake,” he explained.
He also recommends the miso orange-glazed wild caught salmon.
“It has some international flavors to accompany it, including my daughter’s Kimchi which she and her husband Andy make locally, and it’s so good,” Lagasse added.
Hometown foodies might recognize other local purveyors including Black Bear Bread Co. of Grayton Beach, Shane Cochran Honey from Santa Rosa Beach, and Louisiana Lagniappe Inc. and Destin Ice Seafood Market in Destin.
Coastal fans will still find some old favorites on the revised menu, including the Fettuccine Nero, Pineapple Upside-down Cornbread, house-made ice creams and sorbets, and the fabled Olive Oil Cake.
Lagasse and Szymanski like to switch things up from time to time with their seasonal meals. 2020 saw the return of their eight-course Feast of the Seven Fishes, Trufflemania, A Night in France, and A Night in Portugal, in addition to holiday meals and nightly specials.
An extensive wine list joins the Dessert Cocktails and Nightcaps menus, ensuring you have a beverage to pair with every plate. From the Grown Up Abita Root Beer Float, to a 1.5-ounce pour of Remy Martin Louis XIII or a bottle of Colgin IX Estate ‘14, there’s something to suit every palate.
In addition to outfitting the kitchen with some new equipment to support the menu adjustments, the dining room itself saw a refresh as well. Lagasse capitalized on this opportunity to do a housekeeping and renovation project.
“My wife Alden helped with switching out some of the art to reflect a more seafood-driven motif,” Lagasse said. “We love the space and didn’t want to change much, just made tweaks and got to do some projects that are difficult to execute.”
The adjoining outdoor patio has proved even more popular than normal since the reopening. The space is outfitted with fans, umbrellas, misters, and heaters.
On occasion, you might even see Lagasse’s son EJ behind the pass, home from culinary school at his father’s alma mater, Johnson and Wales. Lagasse insists he never pushed his son into the industry, but is proud to see him working hard at ensuring the family’s dining empire has a long and delectable future ahead.
Emeril’s Coastal is located at 435 Grand Boulevard, Miramar Beach, and is open from 4 to 9 p.m. Wednesday to Saturday (9:30 on Friday and Saturday), and Sunday brunch from 10:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. Reach them by phone at 850-608-7040, or visit emerilsrestaurants.com/emerils-coastal/
By now we hope you have registered each day for your chance to win the grand prize bag of Santa’s goodies. The 2017 Holiday Gift Guide and Giveaway is in full swing. We have highlighted some of our favorite wines, restaurants and profiled some of the hottest food and wine events here on the Emerald Coast.
Don’t forget you can register once a day until the end of Tuesday December 5th.
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Alright time for Day 10 in the 2017 Holiday Gift Guide and Giveaway.
One of the world’s most recognizable chefs just recently opened his newest restaurant right here in South Walton. Emeril’s Coastal Italian opened its doors at Grand Boulevard to rave reviews in late summer 2017. On any given day, guests may catch a glimpse of Chef Lagasse working the kitchen and working with his team.
For Day 10 in our Holiday Gift Guide & Giveaway, we teamed up with chef Emeril Lagasse to highlight his latest cookbook, Essential Emeril. And even better…he signed a copy for our lucky grand prize winner.
From the book release:
“Emeril Lagasse is a culinary legend. One of the original Food Network stars, he has hosted numerous television shows, opened 12 restaurants, and become one of the most beloved personalities in the industry today, inspiring millions of fans with his great passion for food.
In Essential Emeril, the iconic chef goes back to basics, presenting more than 130 recipes that defined his award-winning career, each tested and perfected for today’s home cook. Dishes such as Crab and Corn Fritters with Fresh Corn Mayo, Roasted Portuguese Pork Loin With Potatoes and Homemade Pimenta Moida, and White Chocolate Bread Pudding With Toasted Macadamia Caramel Sauce reflect a lifetime of lessons in technique, showcasing the big flavor for which he is known and his continued evolution in the kitchen. Emeril is at the reader’s elbow throughout, offering valuable tips and step-by-step photo tutorials to ensure flawless results.
Fans will delight in Emeril’s anecdotes revealing the inspiration behind each recipe, with appearances from A-list names – Mario Batali, Roy Choi, and Nobu Matsuhira, to name a few – alongside family members and early influences such as Julia Child and Charlie Trotter.
Gorgeously photographed and imbued with his signature warmth, Essential Emeril is Emeril’s most personal cookbook yet, offering an intimate portrait of a chef at the top of his game.”
And even better…the copy we are giving away is a signed copy from the man himself. So don’t miss out registering for your chance to win Essential Emeril along with all the other goodies in Santa’s bag.
Famed chef opens 14th eatery; focuses attention on locals instead of “the season”
Story by Michelle Farnham
MIRAMAR BEACH – When news broke this spring that world-renowned chef and local resident Emeril Lagasse was going to open a restaurant in town, he said he wanted to keep things as local as possible. Fast forward a few months, and Lagasse has kept his promise at his 14th restaurant, Emeril’s Coastal Italian. The James Beard Award-winner has hired 120 local people, is serving locally sourced product as often as possible, and is really trying to cater to local residents.
Making his own trends
In an area like the Emerald Coast, where so much emphasis is placed on “the season” (serving tourists from spring break until Labor Day) Lagasse said he wants “Coastal” – as he affectionately calls the eatery – to be a great restaurant year-round.
“I purposely pushed not opening until the end of the season to not only do the construction right, but I didn’t want my staff to get in that mindset,” he said. “That’s the mindset out there in the community, you know, we’re going to make a lot of money between Memorial Day and Labor Day, and then we coast. That’s not how I operate.”
Lagasse said they’re already looking forward to specials for Thanksgiving, possibly something for the Italian-American Feast of the Seven Fishes around Christmas, New Year’s Eve events and beyond.
“We’re just going to be a great restaurant for locals, for them to come and enjoy and have fun, order multiple dishes, and talk,” he said.
Lagasse is also bucking the trend of stodgy, structured meals, eaten during fixed times, and costing a pretty penny. In a market where many of his competitors rate four dollar signs on Yelp, you’ll only find one entrée over $25 on the menu at Coastal. The staff opens the doors at 11:30, and won’t close them until 10 p.m. (10:30 on Fridays and Saturdays).
“That’s an Emeril Lagasse trend. I think that’s how people want to eat,” Lagasse explained. “I just feel today that these rules that we’re open from 11:30 to 2, and then we’re closed, then we reopen at 5:30 – people are tired of that. People are tired of being dictated what to do, what to eat, how to order. They’re over that. Now, if you want to go to Daniel, The French Laundry, you want to go to Del Posto, that’s a different story. I want people to come here more than once a week.”
There he goes again
Chef admitted that although this is his 14th restaurant, the task of opening doesn’t get any easier, especially when customers walk in the door with such high expectations on Week 1.
“It’s been a little overwhelming,” the chef admitted, after closing up the restaurant at 1 a.m. the night before. “It’s like having a baby. I’m getting ready to have a 1-year-old with Meril (his contemporary American restaurant in New Orleans) in a couple weeks. Here at Coastal, it’s like giving birth and we’ve had the whole process all over again.
“We have a brand new staff we trained for three weeks. They’re trying to adjust to how we do business, our system. Overall, we’re very, very happy. Most people are happy and we’re trying to move that percentage up more and more every day.”
Speaking of the staff, Lagasse has brought a few heavy hitters from Emeril’s Homebase in New Orleans for the opening, including his director of culinary and right-hand-man, Chris Wilson. Local chef Shane Quinlan was hired to fill the roll of chef de cuisine and will lead the kitchen when the proverbial dust settles.
Bringing the tastes of Italy – all of them
Lagasse said his culinary team drew inspiration from the Amalfi Coast of southern Italy when crafting Coastal’s menu, but in the Italian tradition, they were open to neighboring flavors, too.
“Amalfi plays a big part in the gulf they’re on with their seafood, and so when I was there last year shooting my show ‘Eat the World with Emeril Lagasse,’ for Amazon, I got super inspired,” he said. “But there’s a little influence of Tuscany, of Sicily, so there are little accents. It’s not just straight-on.
“That’s the way it is in Italy, you know? You can be in Tuscany but you’re still getting great seafood from the North. They’re like that with their wines as well. There are certain things like the sweet and sour, the lemon and the orange – those kinds of accents that we’ve incorporated in the menu.”
Don’t come to Coastal expecting Ye Olde Italian fare, though. Lagasse’s team has left off many of the more “traditional Italian” dishes many Americans may expect.
“Chicken Parmesan, veal Parmesan, that stuff hasn’t quite made the menu,” he said. “Maybe we’ll do that stuff as a special – pork Milanese, veal chop Milanese, you know.”
Instead, look for Fettuccine Nero, featuring Calabrian chiles, almond, crabmeat and some very distinctive black pasta, compliments of squid ink. There’s a Parmesan-Crusted Snapper in a red sauce; a Tuscan Steak with arugula, garlic, lemon and olive oil; and the Kurobuta Pork Porterhouse Chop with Cubanelle pepper and an onion salad.
Two dishes on the pasta menu bear the name of two of Lagasse’s children. Meril’s Linguine & Clams features guanciale, blistered tomato and oregano; while E.J.’s Rigatoni is topped with shrimp, broccoli and a house-made Italian sausage ragout.
Again, Lagasse is hoping diners will order several things to share, and there is an entire small plates menu to do just that. The Upside-Down Cornbread with pineapple and pancetta is an interesting mix of sweet and savory. The Stuffed Fried Olives come with pork rillettes and garlic aioli, while the Steamed Mussels give you a taste of the sea, prepared with white wine, tomato, garlic and arugula. Off the bruschetta menu, Lagasse’s Cajun Caviar Bruschetta tops a baguette with Cajun caviar, egg salad and crème fraîche.
Even as early as Week 1, Quinlan and the kitchen were turning out specials, like the lion fish, fried Italian-style with smoked tomato sauce, olive relish, and a yellow pepper coulis. Using this unique yet notoriously invasive protein, Lagasse hopes to improve the community one plate at a time.
“We’re helping out as much as we can with the reefs,” he said. “I spend time in south Florida in the winter fishing, and that’s when I learned lion fish are a nuisance. They have no predators and they’re really attacking. All of a sudden, the migration in the past couple years, now they’re here in Destin. We’re doing our part, and it’s delicious!”
Time for something sweet – and different
In addition to house-made gelatos, sorbetos, cookies and biscotti, Lagasse worked with his pastry chefs Jeremy Fogg and Amy Lemon to “Emerilize” traditional Italian desserts for the Dolce Tazzas – or sweet cups.
“I don’t want to just do just banana cream pie, coconut cream pie and key lime pie. I want to break it up,” Lagasse explained. “We took every dessert and deconstructed it, and then we rebuilt it in the style of the Italian way. All of the components are there.”
As an example, the pastry program has turned out its own take on banana cream pie, all layered in a glass.
“You have the graham cracker crust, you have the banana, you have the pastry cream, the whipped cream, the caramel and the chocolate, so when you go in with the spoon, you get every one of those sensations, but it’s completely different,” the chef said with a sparkle in his eye.
Setting the scene
Also sparkling is the Mediterranean, coastal-themed interior, courtesy of Lagasse’s wife Alden with local design house Lovelace Interiors, and architects Geoff Chick and Jeff Margaretten. Soft, beachy grays mix with light and dark wood and modern light fixtures to set the tone for the meal. The kitchen is open, allowing guests to watch their meals being prepared. The chef’s counter is especially exciting when Lagasse himself is on the line. You may even spot his teenage son E.J. in the kitchen, when he’s not in school.
The north wall features original sea life “street graffiti” with a fine art twist, created by Savannah College of Art and Design alum Landon Lott. Lott got his foot in the door, so to speak, after doing black and white murals at Meril last year. The pieces created such a buzz, Lagasse and Alden asked Lott to work his magic at Coastal.
Additional artwork includes a massive antique Italian piece in the private dining room from the Lagasses’ personal collection, as well as work from Watersound-based artist Allison Wickey.
Onward and upward
With two restaurants under a year old, television programs and all the other pots that Lagasse is currently stirring, you might expect him to stop and take a breath. Instead, he’s planning the massive Boudin, Bourbon and Beer event Nov. 3 in New Orleans. He’s in the middle of completely renovating his French Quarter restaurant NOLA after 20 years, with plans to reopen later this month, and he hinted at plans to change up one of his Vegas concepts in the near future.
Lagasse senses the winds of change may be coming to the South Walton dining scene, too. Fellow James Beard winner John Currence also opened a restaurant this year: Big Bad Breakfast in Inlet Beach. Could that be the sign of things to come? Lagasse thinks it might.
“I have a lot of respect for all the chefs here – don’t misunderstand me – but I think that the area is getting ready to change,” Lagasse admitted. “I think the whole dining scene is going to begin to evolve – and it needs to.”
Emeril’s Coastal Italian, located at 435 Grand Boulevard, Miramar Beach, is open seven days a week for both lunch and dinner.
Special to 30aFoodandWine.com courtesy of Grand Boulevard at Sandestin
Emeril’s Coastal Italian Restaurant Opens in Grand Boulevard at Sandestin Town Center Late Spring 2017
Chef Emeril Lagasse’s new restaurant to offer a combination of modern Italian cuisines with local fresh Gulf seafood.
Miramar Beach, Fla. (Mar. 30, 2017) – When legendary chef Emeril Lagasse decides to open a new restaurant, it’s a momentous occasion and people sit up and take notice. The award-winning restauranteur, cookbook author and television star has announced the opening of his newest restaurant, Emeril’s Coastal Italian, which opens in Grand Boulevard late Spring 2017. Lagasse’s newest restaurant joins the collection of premium restaurants based in the popular Town Center, located in the prestigious beach communities of South Walton, along the Gulf Coast of Northwest Florida.
“Grand Boulevard is a unique location and we can’t wait to be part of the many offerings and businesses here. I’ve had a long appreciation and love for this part of Florida. We are thrilled to partner with the Howard Group and become more involved with the local community,” said Lagasse.
Chef Emeril is hands-on with his restaurants and personally created the new restaurant concept. He and his restaurant team have written, tested and developed the menu and recipes, including the research of local purveyors and experimenting with local ingredients.
Emeril’s Coastal Italian combines the rich and diverse tradition of Italian cuisine with the bountiful variety of nearby fresh Gulf seafood and local ingredients.
“I plan to put my own spin or interpretation on many traditional dishes but also explore some unique offerings that highlight the amazing local ingredients that we have at our fingertips here. You can expect to find a wide array of dishes on this menu that expand beyond your traditional Italian restaurant.” said Lagasse.
Opening a restaurant in Miramar beach has been of interest to the Lagasse’s for some time. Chef Emeril is an avid fisherman and has been fishing in the gulf waters for years. He and his wife Alden Lagasse are active members of the community and call the Gulf Coast their home base.
“Part of the appeal of opening in Miramar Beach and at Grand Boulevard is the proximity to my home and the ability for my whole family to be involved. My children have grown up in our restaurants and we are really looking forward to having this property so close, it’s practically in our backyard,” said Lagasse.
Lovelace Interiors have been selected as the Interior Design Firm in collaboration with Lovelace design associate, Alden Lagasse. Susan Lovelace, ASID, NCIDQ certified and has owned the esteemed Interior Design Firm in Miramar Beach since 1992. The design concept is an earthy mix of textures that create a coastal and casual feeling, with an elegant touch. Susan and Alden describe it as a collaboration between cuisine and design elements that enhance the experience of dining. They are striving to make Emeril’s Coastal Italian something that is elevated beyond the ordinary and a complimentary fit to the many superb establishments located at the Town Center.
Keith Howard, President and CEO of Howard Group commented, “I admire the fact that Emeril and his family have been much appreciated and recognized local patrons of the Town Center for many years. Rarely, if ever, do we as developers have the opportunity to work alongside such a world-renowned chef who is also the owner and operator of this newly created Coastal Italian concept. We welcome Emeril and his family to our ever-growing Grand Boulevard Town Center, joining our many other premier dining, shopping and entertainment venues.”
Grand Boulevard is centrally located in the popular and affluent vacation community of South Walton, in Northwest Florida. With 13 restaurants and eateries located in the Town Center, Grand Boulevard attracts a large number of the permanent population as well as second home owners and the area’s many visitors who enjoy the shopping, dining, hotels and entertainment offered within the Town Center.
Emeril’s Coastal Italian restaurant is located at 435 Grand Boulevard, Suite 104, next door to the Town Center cinema.
About Grand Boulevard
Grand Boulevard is the shop, dine, play and stay Town Center located on Northwest Florida’s Beaches. Based on the prominent mixed-use architectural model, Grand Boulevard offers a dynamic lifestyle experience with convenient access to a multitude of exclusive shopping and dining options, entertainment, professional services, corporate offices and lodging. Grand Boulevard is a Howard Group and Merchants Retail Partners property. For more information, please call (850) 837-3099 or visit www.grandboulevard.com.
About Emeril Lagasse
Chef Emeril Lagasse is the chef/proprietor of 13 restaurants in New Orleans, Las Vegas, Orlando and Bethlehem, PA. As a national TV personality, he has hosted more than 2,000 shows on the Food Network, and is the food correspondent for ABC’s “Good Morning America.” Lagasse has appeared as a guest judge in four seasons of Bravo’s hit food series, “Top Chef,” was named a co-host for the tenth season of the “Rachael Ray Show,” and in January 2016, he entered his fourth season of “Emeril’s Florida” on the Cooking Channel. In September 2016, Amazon launched an original series featuring Lagasse called “Eat the World with Emeril Lagasse.” Lagasse is the best-selling author of 19 cookbooks, the latest, Essential Emeril: Favorite Recipes and Hard-Won Wisdom from My Life in the Kitchen, was released in October 2015. In 2002, Emeril established the Emeril Lagasse Foundation to support children’s educational programs that inspire and mentor young people through the culinary arts, nutrition, healthy eating, and important life skills. To date, the Foundation has donated more than $7 million to community organizations in New Orleans, Las Vegas and on the Gulf Coast. Please visit emerilsrestaurants.com for more info.
For Grand Boulevard
Stacey Brady, Director of Marketing and Communications Grand Boulevard at Sandestin
850.837.3099 ext. 203