For more than two decades, Bud & Alley’s, winner of Florida Trend magazine's 2010 Golden Spoon Award, has sated appetites with steak and seafood fare and filled eyes with panoramic views of the Gulf of Mexico. After taking a seat in the relaxed yet elegant dining room, guests peruse the dinner menu's tempting entrees, such as steamed Prince Edward Island mussels flavored with thyme, feta, and a kick of chili flakes on grilled tuscan bread ($24). Southern-inspired sides enhance seafood plates, from a seared red snapper teamed up with sweet dill succotash and okra ($31) to seared diver scallops paired with creamy grits, fried capers, and an edible bust of William Faulkner ($32). A fillet steak served with portobello mushrooms and asparagus ($33) sets the stage for a classic romantic meal as couples clink and enemies hurl martinis or glasses of wine across the table ($8+). A visit to the rooftop bar infuses meals with a festive mood as revelers enjoy spectacular ocean views and sample a selection of top-shelf tequilas from Jose Cuervo, Patrón, and Sauza ($9).
The Boathouse Oyster Bar has shucked local Apalachicola oysters and ladled specialty gumbo at their harbor-side restaurant for a quarter-century. With gulf winds gently blowing through the open-air dining area carrying breezy live tunes, customers can slurp raw oysters ($5.95 half-dozen, $7.95 dozen) or polish off prepared pearl-maker varieties including the Baked Action oysters, doused in butter and flavored with onions, bacon bits, and melted mozzarella ($13.95 dozen). In addition to rib-sticking bowls of gumbo ($7.95), The Boathouse Oyster Bar's chefs prepare savory fruits of the sea such as grilled or fried mahi-mahi ($15.95) and a one-pound-plus stack of Alaskan snow-crab legs, which can be placed on fingers to span large intervals on the piano ($18.95). Landlubbing appetites can be sated with juicy burgers ($8.95+) and sandwiches such as grilled chicken ($8.95) or Black Angus prime rib ($12.95).
Cuvee Bistro takes its name from the French word that refers to a blending of ingredients. It's fitting for the eatery, which combines its southern roots with worldly inspirations to create sophisticated culinary dishes. To accompany this eclectic cooking, the restaurant features an internationally sourced list of wines, which earned an Award of Excellence from Wine Spectator for the last four consecutive years, adding to the restaurant's already impressive award collection that includes a spot on OpenTable's Top 100 Hottest American Bars and Florida Trend's Golden Spoon Award.
Meet the Chef
From a young age, many chefs know they want to spend their lives cooking. But not very many chefs begin working in kitchens at age 14. This is exactly how Cuvee Bistro owner and executive chef Tim Creehan began his career. After being promoted to executive chef, he spent decades showcasing his culinary skills in kitchens from Atlanta to Hong Kong. He also opened multiple restaurants, many of which still serve his signature dishes long after his parting.
His vast experience earned Creehan celebrity status on the Emerald Coast culinary scene. This status only increased after he appeared on regional television programs, was featured as Cooking Light's Shining Star Chef, published three cookbooks, and cooked for celebrities such as Bruce Willis, Cybill Shepherd, and Danny Glover.
Southern Cuisine with a Twist
The addition of white-cheese grits and fried green tomatoes helps reinforce the menu's roots in classic southern cooking. However, Creehan takes those familiar flavors in new directions by incorporating Asian and European influences throughout his cooking. Here are three dishes that reflect the kitchen's commitment to tradition and creativity:
|Grassfed beef carpaccio accompanied by shaved romano cheese and horseradish-tinged cream||Chilean Sea Bass with Avocado Citrus Vinaigrette and Basmati Rice||Colorado Rack of Lamb with Garlic Dijon Cream and Roasted Brussels Sprouts|
Captain Larry maneuvers the Sea Blaster??a 73-foot speedboat??on four different cruises in the Gulf, departing from the HarborWalk Village. Dolphin cruises speed through the water during the day, coming up close to dolphins as they leap out of the sea in an effort to distract humans while they steal their sunglasses. With the addition of snorkeling, passengers strap on a simple breathing apparatus and paddle through the crystalline waters. Others spy dolphins during the sunset cruise, as the horizon burns pink and orange, or watch fireworks burst over the water from the Sea Blaster?s deck every Thursday evening.
As its website states, it's always 5 p.m. at The Wine Bar, located inside Wine World Miramar Beach. Guests can select from a generous selection of lunch items that include soups, salads, and sandwiches. For hungrier patrons, the menu is adorned with larger dishes such as blackened grouper, crab cakes, and gourmet macaroni and cheese. The Wine Bar also stocks myriad craft cheeses from around the world, which customers often pair with a refreshing glass of wine.
As breezes drift in from Sandestin Marina on the Choctawhatchee Bay, live blues tunes also permeate the air at Graffiti & The Funky Blues Shack. An eclectic Italian American menu offers dishes such as escargot Milano, which comes sautéed in garlic, olive oil, and fennel seeds. Entrees include gourmet pastas such as chicken parmesan and fettuccine bolognese, as well as familiar fare including wild buffalo meatloaf and cedar planked salmon.