MIRAMAR BEACH – Founded in 2001 by owners Wayne Lewis and Tom Rice, Marlin Grill has long been noted for its culinary talents and award-winning wine list.
Now celebrating 20 years in business, the locally owned and operated restaurant has been recognized as the Best Place for a Date, Best Martini, and Best Romantic/Special Occasion Restaurant by the readers of Emerald Coast Magazine. They pride themselves on serving the freshest ingredients, including Gulf-fresh seafood, prime dry-aged steaks, house-made sauces, and family-style side dishes.
“These special recipes and our tried-and-true classic dishes are the essence of Marlin Grill,” Rice said. “We try to provide everyone who sits in our dining room or on our patio the true authentic experience of the Emerald Coast by serving fresh, local ingredients that make a lasting impression on the plate.”
Marlin Grill offers a fine dining experience as well as a casual laid-back vibe in the bar or lounge areas. Located in the epicenter of The Village of Baytowne Wharf, Marlin Grill’s expansive veranda overlooks the area’s event green and concert stage.
Marlin Grill is open nightly at 5 p.m. for dinner and can accommodate large parties, special occasions, as well as Thanksgiving and Christmas holiday dinners. Throughout the year, the restaurant also hosts special dinners, including a “Valentine’s Dinner for Two” and discounted meal trios for snowbirds during the winter season. The upstairs of Marlin Grill is available for private events and can seat approximately 50 guests.
“We would like to thank all of our staff and loyal patrons for making Marlin Grill a success over the past two decades,” Rice said. “After a tough year for our industry, we are grateful to celebrate this momentous occasion with those we love and hold dear. Here’s to the next 20 years!”
Marlin Grill is located at 9100 Baytowne Wharf Blvd., in Sandestin. Open Wednesday to Monday from 5 to 10 p.m., diners can make reservations by calling 850-351-1990; visit them online at www.marlingrill.com.
SANDESTIN – While restaurant chains can get a bad rap for food that seems unimaginative and rote, Fleming’s Prime Steakhouse & Wine Bar breaks the mold, offering a menu of luxurious dishes created with the intent of giving diners an unforgettable experience of the senses.
Founded in 1998 by restaurateurs Paul Fleming and Bill Allen in Newport Beach, Calif., the flagship restaurant was later expanded to include 65 locations nationwide, with a location at Grand Boulevard in Sandestin opening on June 4, 2007. The reason for its success is self-evident in the quality of the food and the caliber of the chefs, whose execution of classic American steakhouse dishes has a contemporary twist that displays culinary artistry.
“When you dine at Fleming’s, you will find a strong passion for Prime steak and wine, with thoughtfully engineered menus that delight even the most sophisticated palates,” said Elizabeth Watts, director of media and community relations at Bloomin’ Brands, which owns Fleming’s.
While all of Fleming’s chefs are chosen from among the best, Grand Boulevard is in the capable hands of Chef Partner Craig Sams, who spent 15 years working for several high-end restaurants in California before joining the Fleming’s team in January of 2019. Under his guidance, the culinary team in the kitchen creates exceptional dishes whose components are largely house made, including salad dressings and vinaigrettes, sauces, and signature butters as well as desserts. Filets are hand-cut every day, and the calamari and onion rings are hand-breaded.
“We strive to serve our guests the highest quality and freshest ingredients in every dish,” Watts explained.
Best known for their Prime steaks, among Fleming’s most popular are the 8-ounce Petite Filet Mignon and the 20-ounce Prime Bone-In Ribeye. Adding even more decadence to already luxurious steaks are “Over the Top” options including Truffle-Poached Lobster and Seared Pork Belly. Offering a three-course dinner for two featuring a choice of two salads, two sides, two desserts, and a shareable 35-ounce Prime Tomahawk, Tomahawk Tuesday is one of their most popular weekday prix fixe menus. Other guest favorites include the Caesar Salad, Crab Cakes, and the Sweet Chili Calamari, while sides that top the list include Fleming’s Potatoes and Crispy Brussels Sprouts & Bacon. For a sweet finish, nothing beats the Chocolate Lava Cake and Carrot Cake, both of which are made in-house daily.
“Fleming’s Prime Steakhouse & Wine Bar differentiates itself with our promise to provide world-class food to each and every guest, beginning with steak,” says Watts. “It is the meticulous preparation, culinary craftsmanship, and obsessive attention to detail that makes every steak and dining experience at Fleming’s extraordinary.”
Part of what makes that experience extraordinary is, of course, the wide selection of dry-aged and wet-aged specialty and classic cuts. In fact, every USDA Prime steak cut offered is aged 21 days to develop depth of flavor and texture. Guests also love the diversity of the menu, which, in addition to steaks, features best-in-class seafood as well as innovative plant-based entrées. As one would hope, the wine list is equal to the demands of such excellent food, with selections from the best of Napa Valley and varietals from other prominent wine regions.
“Along with delicious food and wine pairings, our associates’ attention to detail throughout our guests’ dining experience is what keeps them coming back,” Watts contends.
Seated in the refined, stylish, and lively atmosphere for which Fleming’s has become known, one can’t help but be drawn into the unique setting, watching as the exhibition kitchen hums with activity. From the open dining room to the expansive bar and the patio, every seat is the best seat in the house.
Fleming’s Prime Steakhouse & Wine Bar is located at 600 Grand Blvd., Suite M105, Sandestin. Open Monday to Saturday 4 to 10 p.m.; Sunday 4 to 9 p.m. Open for curbside pick-up Monday to Saturday noon to 10 p.m.; Sunday noon to 9 p.m. Delivery hours are Monday to Saturday 12:30 to 9:30 p.m.; Sunday 12:30 to 8:30 p.m. Reservations accepted. For more information, call 850-269-0830 or visit www.flemingssteakhouse.com
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/
SANDESTIN – Combining his years of experience as the captain of a boat with an expertise in restaurant management and menu development, long-time Destin native Gary Jarvis and his like-minded son Bryce have the seafood game well in their grasp. And while they could easily have rested on the success they’d created at Sunset Bay Café in Sandestin Golf and Beach Resort, the father-son duo chose to launch a restaurant in Baytowne Wharf in 2018, capitalizing on the amazing views of their location to bring their guests a dining experience that truly celebrates freshly caught seafood and Southern comfort dishes at their best.
Creatively called Slick Lips Seafood & Oyster Bar, the restaurant invokes an oft-used nickname for Amberjack, a reef fish with no large, sharp teeth whose “slick lips” make them slip easily off the line. Aptly named for a fish common to local waters, the word “local” is at the very heart of this restaurant, as the fish and seafood so beautifully showcased on the menu is locally caught and brought in fresh off the docks in Destin each day.
As one might imagine from the name, the dishes at Slick Lips are largely focused on fresh seafood and oysters, utilizing each in a way that truly lets the taste and quality speak for themselves. Starting things off, a full oyster bar menu offers both raw and chargrilled oysters on the half-shell, presented in their purest form or adorned with house made toppings bursting with the flavor of rich and fatty chorizo cream with smoked gouda or garlic herb parmesan.
For something a little more decadent, the Oysters Baytowne features golden fried oysters on charred French bread, topped with Rockefeller cream sauce, crispy bacon, and parmesan cheese. It’s a deft display of creativity, as are all of their starter dishes, like the crab cakes topped by fresh mango papaya salsa and Cajun remoulade. The Smoked Cheddar Bacon Bombs – an unapologetic display of down-home Southern decadence – is crafted with scratch-made pimento cheese studded with bacon lardons that have been hand-breaded and deep fried, served with a sweet-hot chili aioli.
“We take pride in all that we do, from using the freshest seafood to making our premium custom cocktails,” said Executive Chef Jay Ammons, who has been at the helm since before the restaurant’s doors even opened. “We do it all from scratch here and take absolutely no shortcuts.”
That element of pride is evident on every plate, and the Jarvises’ passion and respect for ingredients is a vision shared by Ammons, who brings his creativity and expertise to bear each day as he leads his kitchen staff to execute perfection on a plate.
“We create a unique experience for our guests here, with our open kitchen where they can watch oysters being shucked and prepared and our attention to detail, which dictates that we do everything with excellence,” said Ammons, a largely self-taught chef who has trained under some of the best in the Gulf South.
At its core, Slick Lips is a restaurant created by true lovers of the sea, men who hold high regard for the beauty teaming in the local waters and wish to feed back into the area that they have long called home.
“This is a place created for families, with Southern hospitality and that feeling of being welcome served up right along with the food,” said Ammons. And that’s definitely something that’s sure to keep anyone on the line.
Slick Lips Seafood & Oyster House is located at 140 Fisherman’s Cove, Miramar Beach. Open Sunday to Thursday 11 a.m. to 9 p.m., Friday and Saturday 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. No reservations. For more information, call 850-347-5060 or visit www.slicklipsseafood.com.
SANDESTIN – It’s rare to find a restaurant in a hotel or resort that can stand alone in experience and style, but Seagar’s Prime Steaks and Seafood, a AAA Four-Diamond Restaurant at Hilton Sandestin Beach Golf Resort & Spa, achieves just that. Its award-winning menu and drink lineup create a memorable dining experience that makes every meal feel like a special occasion.
Seagar’s is consistently recognized as one of the top steakhouses in Florida and top restaurants in Destin, named to the Diner’s Choice, Top 100 Most Romantic Restaurants in America, and Top 100 Steakhouses in America.
And it’s no wonder; the restaurant brings traditional elegance back to the fine-dining experience, providing guests with the option of private dining and offering every diner captain and sommelier service and special tableside preparation of such sumptuous items as steak Diane, Dover sole, and Seagar’s signature dessert, bananas foster.
The restaurant is also loved and revered by wine lovers around the country, with a private-reserve wine list of more than 600 labels. An intimate lounge and live piano entertainment round out the classic, elegant feel, providing a unique and unforgettable dining occasion for everyone who finds a seat at a Seagar’s table.
What makes Seagar’s a must-visit for area guests and a favorite of seasoned locals?
“In my personal experience, the main difference is our shared commitment to excellence,” said Executive Chef Lee Guidry. “Being a AAA Four-Diamond Restaurant, we are deeply committed to consistently delivering exceptional service and premium dining. I find this adds another level of attentiveness to the kitchen atmosphere and how we execute our dishes.”
Ingredients make the meal
Where does he draw inspiration for the beautiful dishes that come out of the Seagar’s kitchen?
“The regionality of the Gulf and local farms that provide our produce are very inspiring. With roughly 99% of our items coming in from nearby farms and fishing boats, each day I walk into the kitchen, I’m inspired to learn, create and teach those around me, creating dishes with the freshest, most beautiful ingredients,” Guidry said.
General Manager Gary Brielmayer, who has been with Hilton Sandestin Beach Golf Resort & Spa for almost 20 years, described the reason for the restaurant’s longevity.
“From the moment guests walk in the door, we want them to have a unique and unforgettable experience.” –Gary Brielmayer, general manager
“We focus on the best quality ingredients that money can buy,” Brielmayer said. “From the moment guests walk in the door, we want them to have a unique and unforgettable experience. Chef Guidry creates several new flavorful dishes each season to showcase the highest quality ingredients available and also to give guests the opportunity to try something new every visit.”
Seagar’s impressive menu includes a selection of appetizing starters, including Crisp Calamari (with buttermilk, seasoned flour, house-made pickle, and grain mustard rouille); Berkwood’s Farm Pork Bell Cassoulet en Croute (with cannellini bean, tomato, fine herb, pork jus, mirepoix, and puff pastry); and a decadent French Onion Soup, a blend of five onions simmered in a hearty beef stock and finished with crouton and melted Jarlsberg and Gruyere cheeses).
Specialties found elsewhere in the area rarely include a Raines Farm Wagyu Beef Tataki (with cucumber, foie gras emulsion, fried garlic, yuzu, ginger, and cilantro); Crisp Bobwhite Quail (with butternut squash and foie gras ravioli, brown butter, sage, consume, buttermilk, oolong, and walnut); and Osetra Caviar (served with toast points, egg yolks, egg whites, sour cream, chives, and chilled vodka). A Caesar Salad for Two is prepared tableside and is a treat not to be missed, and a Custom Seafood Tower will be the delight of the party, created from large Gulf shrimp, Maine Lobster, live oysters, and Alaskan King Crab legs, three-tiered and served with cocktail sauce and drawn butter.
Steakhouse with style
A true New York steakhouse in style and offerings, the appetite is satisfied with Seagar’s main selections, USDA Prime Steaks and Lamb Chops that are certified 100% USDA Prime and available in a variety of cuts such as the Steak Diane, NY Strip, Bone-In Ribeye, Porterhouse, Bone-In Filet, Lamb Chop, Rôtisseur’s Special, and the Chateaubriand, a 22-ounce steak for two.
Custom cuts of the filet mignon are offered, and a wonderful assortment of entrée additions can customize the diner’s choice, including Maitre D’ Butter, Au Poivre, Maytag/Bacon, Mushroom & Madeira, Foie Gras Butter, Oscar, Grilled Shrimp, Pork Belly, Foie Gras, pan seared diver scallops, fried South African lobster tail, or a half pound of King Crab Legs.
For those wanting to stick closer to the coast with their selections, seafood entrees include Seared Snapper (with new potato galette, wilted spinach, Alaskan King Crab, lemongrass, and fume), Crisp Potato Wrapped Gulf Shrimp (with Yukon gold potato threads, artichoke fondue, cherry tomato, artichoke heart, and pea tendril), and South African Cold-Water Lobster Tails, lightly battered and fried and served with honey mustard.
Put a cherry on top of a perfect meal with something sweet, such as Cherries Jubilee or Bananas (or Peaches) Foster for Two, both prepared tableside and served over vanilla ice cream. A Double Irish Coffee or Mocha Espresso Martini can complete the evening or move the party to Seagar’s intimate lounge area for conversation and storytelling, or live piano music on select nights.
For guests new to the Seagar’s experience, Brielmayer says, “Expect the best quality food, expertly and simply prepared, and served with authentic, attentive service.”
Seagar’s Prime Steaks and Seafood is located at 4000 Sandestin Boulevard South in Miramar Beach, and a full menu and more information can be found by visiting seagars.com or calling 850-622-1500. Reservations can be made online or by calling, and a dress code is required.
One of the most popular events of the year, the Sandestin Wine Festival, will take place April 15 to 18. Hosted by the Village of Baytowne, this festival offers something for wine lovers of every level, from the novice to the aficionado.
Two grand wine tastings are scheduled for Friday evening and Saturday afternoon.
“We’ll have more than 500 different types of domestic and international wines,” noted Leighann Elliott, event manager for the Village of Baytowne Wharf at Sandestin. “And the village is kind of transformed for the festival. There are white tents, the wine is flowing, and there’s food and music. And a lot of the vineyard owners and winemakers are available, so attendees will get a chance to talk to them and learn about their wines.”
Sampling so many different types of wines and getting to learn more about the process that goes into making them often gives people an entirely new perspective.
“You might think you like chardonnay or cabernet,” Elliott said, “but then you try all of these different wines and you’re like, ‘Wow, I think I like all of them!’”
And where there is fine wine, there is also exceptional food to pair with it.
“We do what we call our ‘Taste of South Walton’ food events,” Elliot explained. “We have chefs from local restaurants who take part, so we’ll have different culinary tents.”
In addition to food and wine tastings, festival-goers can look forward to special VIP events, wine dinners, seminars, and Yoga on the Beach.
“That’s one of my favorite events,” Elliott said. “We have a yoga instructor, we offer mimosas, and everyone gets a mat that says 34th Annual Sandestin Wine Festival. It’s a great way to kick off the morning on Saturday.”
The festival, which draws people from across the country, helps benefit the community. The Village of Baytowne works with local non-profits to bring everything together.
“We work with Fisher House of the Emerald Coast and the Sandestin Foundation for Kids,” said Elliott. “They provide the volunteers for the festival. They’re the hands of the festival; they’re the ones running around, pouring the wine, and serving the food. Then we donate proceeds back to the charity.”
With last year’s festival forced to cancel due to the pandemic, organizers are thrilled to be able to host it this year. To ensure safety, most events will be held outside, some of the tents will be spaced farther apart, and hand sanitizer stations will be placed throughout the festival.
“This event brings in such a wide range of experiences for all of our guests. They really do get to meet wine experts from across the country. They get an opportunity to taste all of these unique, hand-selected wines. And then they have an opportunity to buy the wines at a discounted cost at the festival. So, it’s a really neat way for them to try what they like and take it home with them. We’re excited to get to see people smiling and enjoying all the festival has to offer.”
For the full schedule and to purchase tickets, visit the website.
SANDESTIN – As the weather warms and the days get longer, visitors and locals alike welcome not just the spring season, but the spring menu at Seagar’s Prime Steaks & Seafood.
Executive Chef Lee Guidry always looks forward to the debut of mushroom season, as is evident in his newest seasonal menu.
At a special luncheon held March 10 at the AAA Four Diamond steakhouse, Guidry started with an off-menu special featuring wagyu, caviar, shaved winter truffle and the first morels of the season.
Next he brought out the prime filet tartar with grilled bone marrow, served right in the bone. Quail egg adds richness while the diced fennel and apple add a brightness that match the season. The house-made focaccia reminds diners that everything served at Seagar’s is made in-house by Guidry and his team.
“It’s a 2- to 3-month process to come up with each menu,” Guidry admitted. “There’s a lot of love that goes in each dish.”
His Heureux Farms pork belly first course incorporates kimchi-style Napa cabbage with sweet soy, ginger, carrot and scallion, and topped with crisp pork skin for added texture. The kitchen cures the pork belly for three days, then braises it for six hours to ensure the texture is wonderfully melty.
Guidry’s crisp bobwhite quail with foie gras and gruyere ravioli is rich in the best way possible, accented with truffled honey butter, Swiss chard and foie gras “snow” which Chef deep freezes and grates as the finishing touch.
Getting into the entrees menu, the skin-on seared snapper is served atop a Yukon gold potato cake cooked in duck fat with zucchini, artichoke mousse, trout roe, and of course, beech mushrooms.
“We have Gulf snapper – American red when it’s in season. It’s been good this year, they keep extending the season a little bit so we’ve been fortunate to keep getting it,” Guidry explained.
Chef’s pan-roasted diver scallops are legendary, and for the spring season he pairs them with a lump blue crab cannelloni and grilled king trumpet mushroom, served with pureed “smooth” gumbo.
“These are U-10 diver scallops that are hand-picked, so there’s no byproduct,” he said, noting that he only buys dry-packed scallops to ensure the best taste and texture.
His blackened Gulf grouper comes with a roasted corn and tasso, which he serves risotto-style, finished with Asiago and rock shrimp.
For dessert, he’s serving a celebration of the classic French opera cake, incorporating delicate layers of chocolate mousse, hazelnut dacquoise, espresso syrup, and ganache, aside a latte gelato and cocoa nibs.
Seagar’s will also host at least one more wine dinner before the season really gets underway, always held the first Sunday of the month. He hinted his next evening might include a caviar and vodka tasting.
Seagar’s Prime Steaks & Seafood is located 4000 Sandestin Blvd. South, Miramar Beach, within the Hilton Sandestin Beach Golf Resort & Spa. Reservations can be made online at seagars.com or by calling 850-622-1500.
Photos by Michelle Farnham
Chef’s prime filet tartar is served in the bone with a sherry vinaigrette and house-made focaccia.
Featuring Napa cabbage, ginger, carrot and pork cracklins, the pork belly first course is finished with a sweet soy sauce.
The flash-fried quail is paired with foie gras and gruyere ravioli.
Chef serves his snapper atop a Yukon gold potato cake.
Diver scallops meet lump blue crab cannelloni.
Grouper is plated with roasted corn and Tasso risotto.
Chef layers chocolate mousse with espresso syrup, hazelnut dacquoise, ganache and buttercream.
Chef Lee Guidry plates his pork belly first course.
SANDESTIN – After eight years of planning and three years of construction, the ribbon was cut and the doors opened to Sandestin’s newest luxury accommodations, Hotel Effie. Tom Becnel, chairman of Sandestin Investments and Sara Becnel, vice president of development for Sandestin, led the ceremonial opening in front of the 250-room hotel, then invited guests to the 10th floor Ara Rooftop Pool & Lounge for a sunset soirée.
“I want to thank the hundreds of construction workers who toiled every day in the cold and the heat, in rain, and put in long, long hours,” Tom Becnel said. He thanked the team of professionals behind the scenes who made the project come together, and specifically thanked his daughter.
“Sara is probably the person most responsible for the success of this hotel,” Tom Becnel added. “She was involved from the beginning … and is the one person responsible for the interior finishes and the design, which make it special.”
“It was truly a family effort and it made it super special to be able to learn and work with my father,” Sara Becnel said before cutting the ribbon. “The building wouldn’t even be out of the ground if it weren’t from him.”
As the elevator doors opened into the evening’s festivities, guests were greeted with champagne, wine and cocktails from Ara. Passed hors d’oeuvres included oysters on the half shell, pickled mussels, poke salad and compressed watermelon with house ricotta.
Hotel Effie’s culinary offerings were led by celebrity chef Hugh Acheson, the Georgia restaurateur, author and “Top Chef” judge and contestant.
Ara, which has both indoor and outdoor space as well as private cabanas, serves lunch from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m., including a black-eyed pea hummus, a super food plate, grilled tiger prawns, and to cool off, Steel City popsicles and milkshakes. The Sunset menu is offered from 5 to 10 p.m., to include shrimp cocktail, chicken wings and smoked mackerel toast.
At the lobby level is Ovide, an elegant restaurant marrying Gulf Coast flavors with classic French technique. Serving breakfast from 7 to 11 a.m., diners can choose from light offerings like green tomato shakshuka, specialties such as the pecan-buttermilk pancakes, or the French omelet with Boursin cheese. Enjoy freshly squeezed juices, house kombucha, coconut water or a Mexican Coke, in additional to more tradition beverages.
Lunch at Ovide offers a tuna Niçoise salad, Kobe beef burger, raw oysters and kimchi creamed collards, to name a few. For dinner, sample the seafood tower, prime beef tartare or roasted red snapper. A kids’ menu includes the classics, ensuring younger diners are covered as well.
Also located on the ground floor is TLB: The Lobby Bar, serving craft cocktails and small plates from 3 to 11 p.m. daily. Sweetbay Coffee presents coffee drinks and tea from 6 a.m. to 2 p.m. daily.
Hotel Effie is Becnel’s second property within the resort, and he hinted at further development in the future. Other amenities include Spa Lilliana, a 13,000-square-foot ballroom, two smaller ballrooms, and 10 meeting rooms.
Hotel Effie, Ovide, Ara Rooftop Pool & Lounge, and TLB are located at 1 Grand Sandestin Blvd., in Miramar Beach, and can be found online at www.hoteleffie.com.
SANDESTIN – When you hear “Tommy Bahama,” visions of fun-loving Hawaiian shirts may hula their way through your head. A creative menu of eclectic, island-inspired fare may not be the first thing that comes to mind – but at Tommy Bahama Restaurant, that’s exactly what you’ll find. Here, the essence of island living the brand is known for makes its way to your plate.
At home in scenic South Walton for well over a decade, Tommy Bahama is an ideal choice for anyone looking to experience the island lifestyle, according to General Manager Pratt Shirley.
“If I was going to best describe our restaurant, it looks like a rum plantation placed in the middle of a suburban setting,” he explained.
Whether you’re looking to unwind over lunch, enjoy an intimate dinner for two, or celebrate a special occasion with a crowd, Tommy Bahama’s top-notch service has you covered.
“We really know how to go over the top for special occasions. We go out of our way to make your celebration special.”
–Pratt Shirley, general manager
“You can eat with us every day, and we do have a lot of regulars, or we can host your special occasion, because we really know how to go over the top for special occasions. We go out of our way to make your celebration special,” said Pratt.
Location, location, location
Whatever the reason, at Tommy Bahama you’re sure to enjoy an experience that’s marked by relaxation and fun. Located at the entrance of the Sandestin Golf & Beach Resort, Tommy Bahama has its finger on the pulse of all the excitement that Grand Boulevard has to offer.
“The restaurant itself is snuggled right in the middle of Grand Boulevard, where our patio overlooks the fountains and green space that hosts many events throughout the year,” said Pratt. “The wine fest in the spring is probably the single biggest event, and we have a front row seat.”
In addition to entertaining seasonal activities offered on the green, Tommy Bahama hosts a daily happy hour, offering signature island-inspired cocktails and a wide array of beer and wine, from 3 to 6 p.m. Adding to the enjoyable island vibe, live music is offered Monday through Saturday, from 5 to 9 p.m.
Island fare without the plane ride
The location and environment may soothe your soul, but the menu will fill your belly. According to Pratt, one key element setting Tommy Bahama apart is the from-scratch kitchen and its creations offered by Executive Chef Andre Dobbs.
“Everything is made from scratch. Every item in the building is made from scratch,” he noted.
While the menu changes slightly with seasons, the restaurant’s signature dishes – like Thai shrimp and scallops, Macadamia nut-crusted snapper, and blackened Mahi Mahi tacos – are so popular, Pratt says revolt would ensue should those dishes ever be removed.
If your inner carnivore needs a fix, the Kona coffee-crusted ribeye or filet with blue cheese topping are “out of this world.” Just be sure to save room for dessert, all of which are made in house.
“We’re extremely famous for our desserts,” boasted Pratt, and it’s not hard to see why. The signature Pina Colada cake has been a hit since the restaurant’s inception. And crème brulée served up in a fresh pineapple bowl is sure to satisfy, too.
Whatever the occasion, Tommy Bahama serves up a slice of island living with a welcoming side of warmth.
“We’re extremely friendly,” Pratt said with satisfaction. “We pay attention to all the special details.”
Tommy Bahama is located at Grand Boulevard at Sandestin, 525 Grand Boulevard, Miramar Beach. Open daily for lunch and dinner starting at 11 a.m., with happy hour from 3 to 6 p.m. Live music Monday through Saturday from 4:30 to 9 p.m. Reservations recommended and accepted online or by phone. For more information, call 850-654-1743 or visit www.tommybahama.com/restaurants/sandestin.
MIRAMAR BEACH – Seagar’s Prime Steaks & Seafood has a longstanding reputation as one of the top fine-dining restaurants in the region. Located in the Hilton Sandestin Beach Golf Resort & Spa, the AAA Four-diamond restaurant is known for its exceptional cuts of prime beef and fresh seafood. It is a traditional New York-style restaurant that offers elegant specialty dishes like Steak Diane and Bananas Foster.
“We offer table-side service and other things New York-style steakhouses are known for that not a lot of other places are doing – especially in this area.” – Chef Dan Vargo
“We offer table-side service and other things New York-style steakhouses are known for that not a lot of other places are doing – especially in this area,” noted Chef Dan Vargo, executive chef of the resort.
One of their most popular items presented at the table is the Caesar Salad. Another is their Dover Sole.
“We prepare it, then filet it and serve it table-side. It always gets a huge reception,” Vargo said. “It does really well.”
The restaurant’s extensive menu features filet mignon, ribeye, porterhouse, and New York strip steak, along with a many different seafood and shellfish entrees, all prepared in a variety of unique ways.
Savor the seasons
Seagar’s Executive Chef Lee Guidry said the menus change four times a year, with heavier fare offered in the fall and winter, and lighter dishes in the spring and summer.
“The staples stay the same, but I usually alter a couple of the salads depending on the time of year. And most of the seafood items change seasonally.”
He looks forward to the spring season every year because it allows him more creativity with so many different fruits, vegetables, and herbs available.
“That’s when everything starts and spring vegetables are available,” he said. “And the mushrooms we harvest in the spring, they’re my favorite.”
Both Chefs Vargo and Guidry began their culinary careers in Florida years ago, then left to continue their training in kitchens all over the world, before returning home. They enjoy drawing on their collective experience and expertise in creating new and different entrees.
“I definitely enjoy a lot of freedom and support in creating menus,” said Guidry.
They take great care in maintaining a standard of excellence that has kept guests coming back time and time again.
“When you’re coming up with actual dishes, you’re looking at taste and texture, balance, acidity, and how the whole dish comes together. Everything has to be just right,” Vargo added.
Seagar’s is also known for its award-winning private reserve wine list, featuring more than 600 wines. And to add even one more element to an extraordinary experience, guests can enjoy live piano music during dinner.
The restaurant is located in the lower level of the Hilton resort, but is open to the public. Free parking is available. Reservations are recommended and there is a dress code. Jackets and ties are not required, but collared shirts, closed toe shoes, and trousers are preferred for men, with a dress or slacks and a blouse preferred for women.
With spectacular food and the service to match, guests can look forward to a fine dining experience they’ll be sure to remember.
Seagar’s Prime Steaks & Seafood is at 4000 Sandestin Blvd. South in Miramar Beach. Reservations are currently required at 850-279-5941 or via OpenTable. The restaurant is open Tuesday to Sunday; the lounge opens at 5:30 and dinner starts at 6 p.m. Hours vary seasonally during the offseason; visit them online at www.seagars.com.