By Lauren Sage Reinlie
July 2, 2023
ROSEMARY BEACH – The fine dining Restaurant Paradis opened in Rosemary Beach in 2009. At the time, it was the only spot with a liquor license in the neighborhood, and has since bourgeoned into one of the hottest growing spots along Scenic Highway 30A.
“When we opened up, Rosemary wasn’t what it is today,” said Mark Eichin, who has served as the restaurant’s executive chef since Day 1. “We had a unique opportunity to be right there at the springboard and were able to be a part of establishing that Rosemary neighborhood feeling.”
The restaurant’s indoor design is loosely modeled after wine-tasting rooms in Napa Valley, with an outdoor patio and intimate bar and lounge area. Their door is always decked out for the occasion with eye-catching decor. Locals and visitors duck in for a special treat without the stuffiness of some upscale restaurants.
“The servers are very knowledgeable and do a great job connecting to each table and providing a unique experience,” Eichin said. “Even if it’s not a special occasion, it still feels special.”
Eichin was working as a sous chef at Bistro Bijoux when he was asked to come on board as executive chef of a new venture in Rosemary Beach. The then-26-year-old knew it was a rare opportunity, especially at such a young age, that he couldn’t refuse.
He designed everything from scratch, including the kitchen and menu, which he describes as Floridian fusion. It’s a loose label that allows the classically French-trained chef to bring in cuisines, styles, and techniques from around the world.
Eichin creates a new menu about twice a year, but a few fan-favorite staples have changed very little since the day they opened. That includes the cast-iron filet served with mashed potatoes, broccolini, and a black truffle demi-glace.
“I’ve tried changing that a couple times and pitchforks came at me,” Eichin joked.
Starters that have held over from the original menu include diver scallops served with sweet pea and wild mushroom risotto and a carrot beurre blanc, and the beef and blue cheese tortellini served with roasted garlic cream.
Eichin uses daily fish specials and a rotating meat feature to bring in new flavors and teach new techniques to his staff, which is one of the parts of his job he takes the most pride in. A recent menu featured a show-stopping 11-ounce bone-in rack of Australian elk served with herb-roasted potatoes, roasted baby zucchini with bacon, and a Burgundy reduction. Other meat features have included high-end cuts of beef as well as more daring selections such as kangaroo and llama.
One recent dessert option was the carrot cake ice cream sandwich, the brainchild of Tony Lux, one of the cooks Eichin enjoys watching flourish and step into his own. Two slices of carrot cake are filled with ice cream and topped with caramel sauce and thin sugar cookies.
The restaurant has a full bar with hand-crafted cocktails and an award-winning wine list.
Eichin said he takes the most pride in teaching and training in the kitchen, helping employees find their way in the world and maybe even make a name for themselves.
“Teaching them and helping them grow and watching them go on and succeed, I just love that.”
Eichin and Restaurant Paradis continue to earn numerous awards, but he said that is not his primary goal. Instead, he measures success by the number of people he has been able to teach and help to go on to successful careers of their own.
“I’ve always felt a good legacy is more about the people coming in and going out,” he said. “To me, that’s more of an accomplishment.”
Restaurant Paradis is located at 82 S. Barrett Square in Rosemary Beach. It opens at 5 p.m. seven days a week. Reservations are accepted and can be made by calling 850-534-0400. Find more info at facebook.com/ParadisChics.