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Archive for the 'Restaurant Reviews' Category

Giuseppi’s Wharf – Niceville

GW ShrimpI was fortunate to be invited (by my daughter, Kelly) to the soft opening of Giuseppi’s Wharf in Niceville last Friday night.  Giuseppi’s has closed their location in Shalimar and reopened in a much more scenic location on the water in Niceville.  We were seated in the bar area which was very spacious with several nice televisions, but our seating also overlooked the water and boats docked right up to the wharf.

GW Crab DipOwners Ken & Rusty have done a great job in turning this location in to what should be the go to place in the Niceville/Bluewater Bay area.  Melissa is the young lady out front who coordinates the whole thing and does it all efficiently and with an engaging personality.  We started with firecracker shrimp (pictured above in the first paragraph) and the hot crab dip pictured here (click on all pictures to enlarge and then back arrow key to retun to article).

GW ErathThe crab dip tasted of fresh crab, not too much filler and very good toasted pita bread accompanying. The shrimp dish was particularly good and again fresh shrimp, the coating still nice and crispy but not too thick and the sauce provided a really nice creamy, spicy kick.  We paired all this with an Erath Pinot Gris from Oregon that is also available by the glass – an outstanding economically priced wine really good with all the seafood dishes. 

GW Parmesan GrouperAfter a very nice house salad with feta cheese, cucumber, tomato, olives and greens we made our way to the main courses.  My guest went with the snow crab which was a generous portion of crab with a butter dipping sauce while Kelly went with the Parmesan Crusted Grouper.  A little dusting of bread crumbs gave the dish a nice crisp crunch blending in the parmesan with the fresh grouper.

GW MahiI went with the blackened mahi mahi, which turned out to be an excellent choice.  You can choose other methods of preparation (baked, grilled, etc) and side accompaniments as well – I went with the habanero infused olive oil.  You also have a choice of side vegetable, and I opted for the Cajun fries.  The mashed sweet potatoes looked good, but they weren’t available for this soft opening.

GW Geyser PeakWe decided to go with the Geyser Peak Sauvignon Blanc with our main courses (this was also particularly good with the feta cheese based salad).  This is another good wine that would go well with all Giuseppi’s seafood dishes.

I wish we could have arrived before dark, as I wanted to share some pictures of the restaurant and particularly the great views of the water and the boats.  Since I didn’t, you should go and send some pictures in for me to post here.  There is a nice separate dining room along with the spacious bar, but no matter where you sit – Giuseppi’s Wharf is a very good dining experience on the water in Niceville.  Call 850–678–4229 for directions and/or more info.

Spoken by Ronnie Coleman | Discussion: 4 Comments »

Delta Kitchen – Upscale Meat & Three in Freeport

Delta Kitchen signWe had heard good things about the new Delta Kitchen in Freeport so this past weekend we ate both Friday and Saturday night at this new restaurant in Freeport.  Although the sign was sitting outside, look for it installed soon.

(Click on the picture above – and all pictures – to enlarge).

Delta Kitchen InteriorIt was actually coincidental that we ate there two nights in a row but after an overzealousness on our part to try some of the beer and wine left over from Big City Grill, I left my credit card and had to return on Saturday to retrieve.  But the experience was so good on Friday, that we were happy to make a return visit the next night.

DK Bacon DipIn a word the food there is excellent.  Most of us on the Emerald Coast grew up in the South and fully understand the culinary siginifance in our upbringing of great fresh vegetables either prepared at home by our mothers and grandmothers or at the local meat and three.  Delta Kitchen brings back those memories and kicks them up a notch.  A chalk board menu (Red Bar/331 anyone) alerts you to the day’s menu which changes often. 

DK Frito PieFor starters a complimentary small plate of boiled peanuts and pimento cheese with crackers is brought to the table.  This is an excellent touch with moist salty peanuts offset by the smooth pimento cheese with a nice dose of cream cheese added.  The first night we shared the Apple Bacon BLT Dip (pictured next to the above paragraph), and the next night we went with the Frito Pie Supreme (pictured here).

DK BrisketFor better or worse I’ve never eaten at Sonic, but my guest says the Frito appetizer is reminiscent of a dish they use to serve there.  It’s a bunch of Fritos topped with chili and melted cheese.  It’s gotta be bad for you, but man it’s good.  The first night my guest and I shared the beef brisket, fried sweet potatoes, fried okra and squash casserole.  The brisket and sweet potatoes were as good as I’ve ever had.  Forrest Jamison, the chef/owner, told us the brisket had been cooked for 12 hours at low temperature and easily you could cut it with a fork.

DK DuckMy daughter had the slow roasted duck, fried okra, fried sweet potatoes and green beans.  We actually shared the two plates between us and as you can see the portions are extremely generous.  Her duck was outstanding and the green beans were a real revelation with an incredibly tasty broth at the bottom of the bowl that had a delicious tomatoey beef stock kind of taste to it.

DK PorkThe next night I made it a point to imbibe less vigorously and remember my credit card and that mission was accomplished – although the beer in the cold glass with those boiled peanuts was real nice for starters.  Dennis helped us both nights, and he (along with the rest of the staff who all came by and spoke with us) contributed to the great dining experience.  We had to have the green beans again this time along with Slow Roasted Pork, fried sweet potatoes (yes you will see them in every picture), creamed corn, and fresh tomato salad.  Even the simple tomato salad was so clean and tasty with fresh basil and nice extra virgin olive oil.

It would be nice if it was a little closer to South Walton (it’s on Hwy 331 in a small strip center and almost to, and just south of, the Hwy 20 intersection), but it’s worth the short journey.  They are open from 11:00 till 9:00 Monday– Friday.  Then dinner only at 5:00 on Saturday and closed on Sunday.  Go!

We very much enjoy writing these restaurant reviews. This is our avocation, but our vocation is representing Buyers and Sellers in real estate transactions on the Emerald Coast. If you are interested in learning more about our real estate services, please Click Here.
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P.F. Changs Opens in Sandestin

Changs InteriorChristopher Renteria is Operating Partner and in the forefront of Flemings Steak House in Sandestin. Chris and his entire staff have a real positive, professional and upbeat attitude and that along with one of the coolest settings in our area make Flemings a favorite haunt of ours. Chris was kind enough to invite us to the pre-opening party last night at P.F. Changs in Sandestin, as Changs is a sister restaurant to Flemings.

Changs BarThe opening of Changs has been highly anticipated in our area and based on our dining experience last night the place will be packed for a long time to come. The main seating area pictured in the first paragraph above (click on all pictures to enlarge) is not a mind boggling beautiful setting, but you come here for the food. Even though we had a table reserved, we opted for the bar where we had outstanding service.

Changs Lettuce WrapsFor starters I went with my favorite at Changs (having eaten at other Changs) the Chicken Lettuce Wraps. Along with spiced chicken there is green onions, water chestnuts, black mushrooms, rice sticks, sesame oil, garlic and minced chicken sauce. Its a great dish and although I dont go for the rice sticks when I make my wrap, I dont feel overly stuffed for the main course.

Changs Spring RollMy guest ordered the Crab Wontons, but because the place was totally packed and there was action aplenty she was accidentally served the Harvest Spring Rolls. The perfectly crunchy exterior had stuffed inside bamboo shoot strips, black mushrooms, cabbage, carrots, celery, soy sauce, sesame oil, mushroom oyster sauce with a sweet and sour sauce. Others around us had the same appetizer, and everyone was pleased.

Changs Won TonsWhen one of the waitstaff inquired if the Won Tons were good, I pointed out that we got the Spring Rolls but were very happy with them. She insisted that we also get the Won Tons, and not wanting to disappoint her we tackled them next. Another crispy but thicker exterior was filled this time with crab meat, cream cheese, garlic, ginger, bell pepper, onions, white pepper and a spicy plum sauce. I liked the dish as the ginger aspect of it gave it a pleasant and different taste, but this was my least favorite dish of the night.

Changs Kung PaoNot trying to be overly imaginative (or perhaps starting to zone out a little after spending all afternoon at the Rosemary Beach Wine Festival), I ordered the Kung Pao Chicken. Even in my haziness, it turned out to be a good move. The marinated chicken was surrounded by chili pepper pods (be forewarned on these I couldnt taste my wine for a few sips after consuming one), garlic, Kung Pao Sauce, peanuts, dried chili flakes, sesame oil and green onions.

Changs SaucesThe dish was a little dry, but that was fine as I had plenty of things around me to remody that. Along with a huge bowl of moist brown rice (white rice also available), a trio of sauces was delivered at the beginning of our meal. The red sauce delivered a little more kick than I wanted, the mustard horseradish sauce also had kick but a likeable kick and the third was also good with a soy sauce base and a small mixture of the other two.

Changs Melon ShrimpMy guest ordered the Shrimp with Candied Walnuts. I thought the dish sounded too sweet with honeydew melons and a creamy lemon sauce, but it was quite good.

I was struck by how fresh the shrimp tasted, and the dish strangely enough tasted less sweet when you combined some melon with the shrimp. All in all a good dish, but you have to be in the mood.

Changs WineChangs has a decent wine list, and we gave it a small workout by trying different things by the glass. For the chicken wraps, we went with La Crema Pinot Noir a wine that is our go to pinot noir as many places in our area serve this by the glass, and its a good bargain. For the Spring Rolls, J Pinot Gris was the choice. We tried the Charles Krug Sauvignon Blanc with crab won tons I like this one because its not overly loaded with grapefruit as many sauvignon blancs can be. For the shrimp dish, the Kim Crawford Unoaked Chardonnay was our choice. My excuse being the wine festival, I cant remember what I had with the Kung Pao Chicken.

We had a great evening at Changs, and this has to be one of my favorite chain restaurants anywhere. The waitstaff was positive, attentive and professional. I really liked the music and the vibe in the bar area, and the wine and food totally lived up to our high expectations. I know that there is oftentime lines to get in to Cantina Laredo, but I see P.F. Changs being even more popular in our area. Go!

We very much enjoy writing these restaurant reviews. This is our avocation, but our vocation is representing Buyers and Sellers in real estate transactions on the Emerald Coast. If you are interested in learning more about our real estate services, please Click Here.
For our Restaurant Review Credentials, please Click Here

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Top 5 Sports Bars for Football on the Emerald Coast

Calypso televisionsIt’s that time of the year when sports bars become very important in many of our lives. With the advent of Thursday and Friday night college football games, the only two nights that football junkies can’t get their fix is on Tuesday and Wednesday. And with the upcoming baseball playoffs, look for those two nights to be taken too. Nothing is more fun than gathering with friends and family to take in one of these sporting events at one of our great sports bars. Here are our nominations for The Top 5 Sports Bars in our area in descending order.

Honorable MentionSportsbook Grill & Bar in Destin, Pineapple Willies on Thomas Drive in Panama City Beach & Acme Oyster Bar in Baytowne Wharf in Sandestin.

Number 5Calypso Beach Cafe and Sports Grill in the west end of Panama City Beach on Front Beach Road next to Calypso Condominiums and Pier Park. My guest and I were there an opening day with a bunch of friends who are avid Ole Miss fans. We watched them hang on to beat Memphis 23-21 in one of the many rooms that are available in this much larger than meets the eye venue. The Rebels haven’t tasted victory again after three more games, although a moral victory/loss to the Gators gives Rebel fans a glimmer of hope.

Calypso Crab ClawsThis is an excellent place to watch your favorite team with over 100 televisions available with 16 of them being larger than 50″. The manager is incredibly energetic and would make for an excellent special teams coach, as the guy is fired up like crazy every time I’ve seen him. We sampled some of their game fare with the best being the sauteed crab claws. They were a little stringy but the sauce was excellent, and everybody at the table was dipping whatever they had (crackers, tortilla chips, quesadillas, etc) in to that sauce. Hoddy Toddy!

oquigleys.jpgNumber 4Johny O’Quigleys in Destin. Drop the shoppers off at Destin Commons and the readers off at Books A Million or Barnes & Noble and pick them up in three hours or so after the game is over. O’Quigleys is across the street from the mall, has plenty of bar fare and a rollicking place to take in the game with a whole lot of televisions and a lively crowd. We watched the Saints go out of the playoffs last year at the hands of Da Bears at this site, and it was an unhappy partisan Saint crowd that left the restaurant that day. Three games in to the season and the Saints nor the fans have recovered from that beating based on their performance (0-3) so far this year.

beef-o-bradys.jpgNumber 3Beef O’Brady’s in the Market Shops at Sandestin. Not only do you have televisions at your table to go along with the big screens, but you have an outside area (with bar) to take in games (and people watch) when the weather cooperates – which is most of the time. We arrived late a couple of Saturday nights ago, sat outside and saw the last few minutes of Alabama’s dramatic and exhilirating (for Tide fans) comeback win over the Razorbacks of Arkansas. Tide fans are now back to earth after the Bulldogs returned to the hedges with an overtime victory in Tuscaloosa. Alabama backers still have the inkling that Saban is the one to lead them back to a national championship that they haven’t tasted since the Sugar Bowl victory over Miami in 1993.

busters-inside.jpgNumber 2Buster’s Oyster Bar & Grill in Miramar Beach. I have to admit that I’m influenced by their oysters and what I feel is the best gumbo in the area that is served at Buster’s. But beyond that there is always a lively crowd on game day at Buster’s watching the 30 televisions that are on display. Buster’s has been a game day tradition for 20 years, and in our area – that’s a real long time. They have a great children’s menu, and it is probably the most kid friendly place to take the whole family to watch the game.

Number 1Angler’s Beachside Grill on Okaloosa Island in Ft. Walton – a legend!Click Here to read a full review of Anglers.

We very much enjoy writing these restaurant reviews. This is our avocation, but our vocation is representing Buyers and Sellers in real estate transactions on the Emerald Coast. If you are interested in learning more about our real estate services, please Click Here.
For our Restaurant Review Credentials, please Click Here

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Top Sports Bar & Lots More – Angler’s Beachside Grill

Anglers frontAngler’s Beachside Grill on Okaloosa Island in Ft. Walton Beach is our Number One favorite sports bar in the area.

There’s plenty of televisions downstairs, but if you want to feel like you are in the stadium with some really rabid, imbibing fans and a whole bunch of them at that – the second floor of Angler’s is a place like no other.

Anglers televisionsAngler’s has four 9 foot screens and 91 additional televisions. The place draws an incredibly diverse crowd who swarm in to follow their favorite team.

This includes locals, tourists and lots of folks affiliated with Eglin that can follow their team no matter where they call home.

Anglers SunsetWe were out late one recent Saturday afternoon around sunset to witness the Auburn Tigers eventually fall to the South Florida Bulls.

Tommy Tuberville is starting to feel a little heat and with trips to Florida, Arkansas and LSU in three of their next four games – things could easily get hotter still on the Loveliest Village of the Plains. (Click Picture to Enlarge).

Anglers PierAngler’s is an incredible setting in that it stands at the entrance to the Okaloosa Island Pier (one dollar to enter the pier to fish or just take in the awesome setting) that goes way out in to the Gulf of Mexico. There is also a Kids Playground located right on the beach below and plenty of people sunning or walking on the beach depending on the time of day. (Click to Enlarge).

Anglers outsideThere’s plenty of outside seating both leading up to the pier entrance (great place to watch the kids play below) and in a separate outside covered seating area that is ideal for watching the sunset or the moon over the gulf.

Anglers QuesadillaOn this particular night we had the typical sports bar fare with Nachos Supreme, Fried Crab Claws and Chicken Quesidillas. I found the Quesadillas to be the best of the group, but if you are in to quantity – there were a lot of nachos there.

If you are ready for some football, you won’t find a better place to watch the game and feel like you are on the 50 yard line than Angler’s Beachside Grill. They can be reached at 8507960260.

We very much enjoy writing these restaurant reviews. This is our avocation, but our vocation is representing Buyers and Sellers in real estate transactions on the Emerald Coast. If you are interested in learning more about our real estate services, please Click Here.

For our Restaurant Review Credentials, please Click Here.

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You Don’t Have To Be A Member – Santa Rosa Beach Club

SRB Club exteriorSanta Rosa Beach Club is the only white table cloth restaurant on CR-30A directly on the beach with an unobstructed view right down the coast line.

Even though it’s been serving good food for years, there are still many people who think the restaurant is a private club – but not so. (Click above to Enlarge).

SRB Club soupWe were in one Friday night not long hoping to see a nice sunset over the gulf, but we got a different kind of show instead. As the evening began, dark clouds over the horizon prevented any sunset but made for a beautiful setting. As darkness fell the lightning lit up the shoreline, the dark clouds in the sky and the white caps of the sizeable waves rolling in from the storm.

SRB Club oystersThere was live entertainment that night, and everyone was in a festive mood. We made friends with the couple sitting at the table next to us and compared notes on our dishes and drinks. We started with some fried oysters with tartar sauce that were done just right, some asparagus and crabmeat soup and the house salad. I thought the soup was a little salty but overall we enjoyed all three dishes.

SRB Club fishI have eaten at Santa Rosa Beach Club on many occasions to include lunch (try their meat salads – such as chicken, shrimp, etc) and dinner. The main course on this night was one of the best dishes I’ve ever had there. It was offered as a head on snapper (but my guest insisted the head be removed – not in her presence) stuffed with lemon, topped with jumbo lump crabmeat in a beurre blanc sauce. The side dish was grilled eggplant with a little goat cheese and marinara topped with fried leaks. The fish had a great charcoal taste to it, the sauce wasn’t too heavy, the eggplant still had a crispness to it and well the chef just hit the nail on the head with this dish. Outstanding – try it if it’s available when you go. (Click on the fish to Enlarge).

SRB Club dessertOur new friends were celebrating their anniversary and after my guest commented how much she loved chocolate – a portion was shared with us. She is the dessert expert and I’m not even a huge chocolate fan, but that was a good chocolate tort in my book. (Click to Enlarge).

Santa Rosa Beach Club is the sort of restaurant that for some reason I tend to overlook when I’m dining on CR-30A, even though I definitely know it’s open to the public. Based on our last dining experience there, we will be back soon. Call 267-1240 for reservations.

We very much enjoy writing these restaurant reviews. This is our avocation, but our vocation is representing Buyers and Sellers in real estate transactions on the Emerald Coast. If you are interested in learning more about our real estate services, please Click Here.

For our Restaurant Review Credentials, please Click Here.

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Breakfast Surprise – Don Pedro’s in Santa Rosa Beach

Don Pedros Outside 2You wouldn’t naturally think of Don Pedros on Highway 98 in Santa Rosa Beach for breakfast, but it is one of our favorite places for breakfast in South Walton County.

They serve a good lunch and dinner, but on a recent Saturday morning Vicki and I enjoyed another excellent breakfast -another in a long line at Don Pedros.

Don Pedros InteriorMany years ago Pedro Alvarez worked in the kitchen at a restaurant that was located not far from the current Don Pedros location – Nena’s. After leaving Nena’s, Pedro moved on to the Donut Hole II. The opportunity arose to open his own place seven years ago, and the rest is a Mexican restaurant success story. Don Pedros is a no frills kind of establishment, but the food and service is what has made this restaurant a success. The future is in good hands with Pedro Alvarez, Jr., a very personable and knowledgeable young man, who helped us on this Saturday morning.

Don Pedros Huevos RancherosAlthough they have Sopapillas and all kinds of pancakes, we went with a more traditional Mexican breakfast. My guest had the classic Huevos Rancheros – a Tortilla Topped with Two Eggs, Salsa, Cheese & Sour Cream. The salsa there isn’t our favorite thing (no kick), but with the salsa and cheese grits on the side – she gave it two thumbs up. (Click on the Picture above to Enlarge).

Don Pedros Mexican OmeletI went with the Mexican Omelet – Tomato, Onion, Peppers, Topped with Salsa (on the side for me), Cheese, Sour Cream & Jalapeno. I also opted for Home Fries and an order of their excellent (and unique for breakfast) Chilaquiles. Chilaquiles are kind of like Doritos with melted Sour Cream. I highly recommend this dish and throw in a side of bacon if you are inclined I was. (Click ^ to Enlarge).

This is one of the top restaurants in South Walton for breakfast. Don Pedros serves breakfast seven days a week starting at 7:00 a.m. They can be reached at 850-267-0009, and be aware that they do not take credit cards.

We very much enjoy writing these restaurant reviews. This is our avocation, but our vocation is representing Buyers and Sellers in real estate transactions on the Emerald Coast. If you are interested in learning more about our real estate services, please Click Here.

For our Restaurant Review Credentials, please Click Here.

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Diverse Dining Options – The Marlin Grill in Baytowne Wharf Sandestin

Marlin Grill CourtyardOne of our favorite venues for dining, entertainment and people watching is The Marlin Grill in Sandestin’s Baytowne Wharf.

When weather permits one of the great dining pleasures of our area is to sit outside and listen to the sounds of a live band in the Events Plaza directly in front of you, have a nice leisurely meal with a good bottle of wine from their extensive wine list and people watch to your hearts content. It can be a very romantic setting with white tablecoths, candles, etc, or it’s a great place to take the kids as they can run freely in the Events Plaza. (Click on the picture above to Enlarge).

Marlin Grill Duck Spring RollsIn the past few weeks we met my guest’s clients – Rick, Wendell and Pam – on two occasions at the Marlin Grill. One was around dusk on a beautiful Wednesday evening with beautiful weather, and a blues band performing in the plaza in front of a full and bustling crowd. Vicki and I ordered their grilled vegetable salad and one of our favorite appetizers on the Emerald Coast – the Duck Spring Rolls.

Marlin Grill Hash BrownsThe delicious spring roll appetizer works really well with pinot noir. Because the guys had steaks it made sense to go with that wine selection, so we paired it all with La Crema Pinot Noir from Sonoma County.

The guys also had one of the larger side dishes in South Walton – a side of Marlin Grill’s humungous hash browns.

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What’s That Smell – Good Food & Good Times at Stinky’s Fish Camp

Chef/Owner Jim Richard has bounced back from the tragic fire and closing of The Lake Place in Santa Rosa Beach with the opening of the adjoining property and now wildly popular Stinky’s Fish Camp.  Richard had physically moved in to the kitchen at Zampieri’s on the Destin Harbor (formerly Harry T’s) after the fire and is still involved with that operation, but the folks on CR-30A are very happy that he has returned to our neighborhood with Stinky’s.  

Stinkys InteriorThere are several rooms to dine in, but I like the bar area.  Be forewarned that on Thursday through Sunday nights it can be hard to hear more than the person next to you with the live music playing, the happy and talkative mood that seems to engulf everyone upon entry and delighted diners cleaning their plates and toasting to the vibe of Stinky’s. 

Stinkys SquashStinky’s does all kinds of oysters that are shucked right at the bar.  There are four raw offerings (different toppings) and five preparations to choose from for their baked oysters.  I like the Ceviche topping for the raw and the Smoked Cheese, Bacon and Horseradish on the baked.  But my guest and I opted for their most popular appetizer – the Jumbo Lump Stuffed Squash Gratin.  The half fried squash was jammed with the sweet lump crabmeat in a wonderful creamy sauce.  Stinky’s has a very, very good wine list, and it’s fairly priced.  We chose a bottle of Erath Pinot Gris from Oregon, and it worked beautifully with the squash appetizer and our upcoming fish dishes. 

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Goodness Gracious Great Balls of Fire – Restaurant Grayton Beach

New Orleans loss is South Walton’s gain as Fire Restaurant has transplanted from the Big Easy to Grayton Beach. This outstanding little restaurant excels at both lunch and dinner.

Fire SignThere is a lot of restaurant competition in the little hamlet of Grayton Beach. At last count there are about a dozen restaurants in this tiny commmunity, and many of them are very good. I’m hoping that the people who have homes in Seaside, homes in Watercolor and homes in The Lake Place in Grayton and others will support this unique little restaurant as often as possible.

Fire InsideFire opened in New Orleans a few months before Katrina and then reopened fairly quickly after the storm, but the unsteadiness of the market took its toll.

So the owners, who vacationed here, took nine of their employees and came to Grayton Beach. And boy are we glad they did.

There’s a great little bar area with flat panel televisions for sporting events and enough tables/seats for about 30 or so people. There are several small dining areas if you want things a little more private.

Fire DipsThe upbeat attitude of the waitstaff is a real positive, but the food is the real star of the show. The unique Dip Trio is an excellent starter. You have the choice of six dips in which to choose your trio. On a recent lunch excursion my guest and I were with our clients and friends, Laura Blumberg and Ruth Horn, and we started with the Apricot-Habanero, Spicy Roasted Red Pepper Peanut Cilantro and Sun Dried Tomato dips. The really fresh chips and grilled pita bread are excellent accompinaments. (Click Above ^ to Enlarge Picture).

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