Chef Eric Bartholomew, who leads the kitchen at LaCo, 30A’s Latin coastal kitchen in Seacrest Beach, is bringing the heat with this refreshing summer dish.
“Aguachile is a classic Mexican dish that hails from Sinaloa, a coastal state located in the western part of the country,” Bartholomew explained. Enjoy his take on Watermelon and Chilled Gulf Shrimp Aguachile.
Watermelon and Chilled Gulf Shrimp Aguachile
Recipe: Yields one serving
1 cup fresh lime juice 1/4 cup light agave syrup 1/4 ounce jalapeno 1/2 pound fresh Gulf shrimp, peeled and deveined 1/2 cup watermelon, cubed 1/2 cucumber, cubed, seeds and skin removed 1 avocado 1 radish, thinly sliced Kosher salt to taste Chili oil to taste Cilantro to taste
Bring 4 cups of salted water to a boil in a saucepan. Make an ice bath with equal parts ice and water in a large bowl.
Cook shrimp until 90% done, carefully remove and submerge in the ice bath to stop the cooking process.
While shrimp are cooling, cut watermelon, cucumber and avocado into small cubes.
Combine lime juice, light agave syrup and jalapeños in a blender; blend on high until smooth.
In a shallow serving plate, arrange shrimp and season with kosher salt. Cover shrimp with jalapeño-lime broth from the blender. Drizzle chili oil over shrimp and broth.
Add watermelon, cucumber and avocado. Garnish with cilantro and sliced radish.
SEACREST BEACH – La Cocina, the Latin coastal restaurant serving up ceviche, tacos, burritos and achiote fried wings along 30A, has reopened its doors as LaCo, a shortened moniker for both “La Cocina” and “Latin Coastal.”
Over the winter, the eatery also underwent a top-to-bottom remodel of the dining room and bar, and has debuted a new brunch menu from Executive Chef Eric Bartholomew. From the floors to wall colors, lighting, even the chairs are new, all the work of Z-Space Design out of Atlanta.
“We’ve been transitioning from Tex-Mex to more Latin Coastal over the past couple years, so we wanted to reflect those menu changes in the name and the ambiance of the restaurant,” explained Manager Sarah Hampton. “It’s the same owners, the same great staff, and the same menu we’ve used for the past three years.”
To the left of the entryway is the revamped main dining space, which includes fresh tile work in muted beachy tones that add to the coastal feel. New booths offer fun, comfortable seating options to the space. To the right of the front door is the remodeled bar area with seating, including the gorgeous white bar top, accented by handsome dark woodwork.
“The remodel definitely lightens up the dining room and the new bar is a great hangout place,” Bartholomew said.
The newly debuted brunch is served 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. seven days a week, while the regular menu is offered 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. daily, including takeout, according to Christy Spell Terry, who co-owns LaCo with her father, Rick.
“We wanted to give locals and tourists alike a dining option they could enjoy earlier in the day,” Spell Terry said. “LaCo’s culinary team created an exceptional menu brunch-goers can enjoy as early as 10 a.m. daily – and that includes kid-friendly dishes, too! It makes for a great start to a day at the beach.”
The Breakfast Burrito, Tacos Desayuno and Chilaquiles Rojo come with the guest’s choice of grilled steak, bacon, chorizo or grilled veggies.
“When I think coastal, it’s certain ingredients we use, some seafood, but also being a little bit lighter,” the chef said. “This is not your typical bacon-eggs-potato type place. It’s a different option for someone, and a lot of these are gluten-free or can be vegetarian, so they’re good for people with alternative diets.”
Chef’s Sweet Potato Breakfast Hash is not to be missed, with its roasted Brussels sprouts, whipped avocado, lime vinaigrette and a sunny side up egg.
“The sweet potato is a little bit of a healthier option, while the Chilaquiles Rojo is a real traditional Mexican breakfast dish,” Bartholomew explained. “It’s kind of a hangover meal! It’s a very homey dish that we can offer to guests that they might not have been exposed to before.”
Younger diners can chose between French Toast Sticks with fresh berries, or the S’mores Waffle with chocolate mousse.
Hampton admitted the Lobster Avocado Toast was her favorite new brunch item.
“It’s sourdough bread, avocado, and delicious lobster,” she said. “It has a sweetness and also a little heat, too. The flavors are just awesome.”
Brunch also includes new drinks, like the Sunrise Smoothie (banana, blueberry, vanilla yogurt, almond milk) and the Blood Orange Mimosa, to complement the food.
“Guests love the new brunch dishes and drinks!” exclaimed Spell Terry. “Our culinary team works hard to create Latin-inspired, coastal cuisine with fresh seafood and local ingredients, and guests really appreciate it.”
The regular menu that debuted three seasons ago is still in use, continuing to use fresh, local purveyors. Chef rotates out his very popular Pescado Del Dia special every week or so. Other highlights include the Ribeye Asado plate with red chimichurri, as well as the 10 taco options featuring everything from achiote fried pork belly to chili butter-poached lobster.
LaCo is located at 10343 E. Co. Hwy. 30A in Seacrest Beach. They are open 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. daily and do not accept reservations. Reach them at 850-231-4021 or view the full menu at www.laco30a.com.
Edward’s, George’s at Alys Beach, Grits and Grind, La Cocina and La Crema open daily
May 28, 2020 Special to 30A Food and Wine
SOUTH WALTON – The Spell Restaurant Group has opened all its coastal restaurants, exceeding safety guidelines set by Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, as confirmed by the health inspector. Patrons will find outdoor tables spaced 6 feet apart and inside capacity capped at 50 percent. All restaurants will be offering to go orders and each has online ordering available.
Guests will receive one or two menus per table and those will be thoroughly sanitized after each use, and are encouraged to view menus on their own phones. The Heartland Guest App can be used for guests to pay on their phones at the table so no exchange of credit card or cash is made.
Edward’s Fine Food & Wine will be open daily from 5 to 9 p.m. and will continue to offer Happy Hour from 5 to 6 p.m., featuring buy one, get one on glasses of wine and $1 off select beers during that time. (Bar seating is not allowed at this time). Takeout orders can be picked up in the front of the restaurant. Visit Edwards30a.com for info and to order online.
George’s at Alys Beach will be open daily from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. and 5 to 9 p.m. The menu is slightly reduced, but still offers plenty of options. Visit georgesatalysbeach.com for info and to order online.
Grits and Grind will be open daily with new hours of 8 to 11 a.m. Guests can pick up food to go at the front of the restaurant. Visit Gritsandgrindbreakfast.com for info and to order online.
La Cocina will be open daily from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Happy Hour is daily from 3 to 5 p.m. and features $5 house margaritas, $5 wine by the glass, $2 off beer, and great food specials. (Bar seating is not allowed at this time). Guests can pick up food to go at the west side breezeway door of the restaurant. Visit lacocina30a.com to order online.
La Crema Tapas and Chocolate will be open daily from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Guests are encouraged to continue to order to go food. (Bar seating is not allowed at this time). Visit lacrematapas.com for info and to order online.