There is a reason people from all of the world come to visit South Walton. It is not just for our sugar-white sand beaches, turquoise waters, welcoming eclectic neighborhoods, or amazing architecture, but also for the food. Fresh from Florida produce and Gulf Coast seafood are at the forefront, providing patrons with exceptional, flavor packed experiences, from dives to fine dining.
With South Walton being the most visited coastal destination in the state of Florida, we see lovers of music, fashion fishing, art, and of course, my favorite…food. There is certainly something for everyone to enjoy.
Bud & Alley’s Waterfront Restaurant located in Seaside, Florida is a popular spot overlooking the Gulf of Mexico. It is the oldest operating restaurant in South Walton, and Dave Rauschkolb is the owner. Serving up some of the best regional cuisine in the Panhandle; unpretentious and casual, Rauschkolb says, “The philosophy of the restaurant has remained the same; to serve the freshest, locally available food prepared simply. We are so fortunate to have an abundance of the freshest seafood right in our back yard. “
Bud & Alley’s showcases a Fresh From Florida menu, with the logo located next to the food selection, showing that the product is authentic, and not to disappoint. Seating is offered in the sun room (my favorite inside dining space), bar, dining room, outside next to the dunes on the patio, or with a limited menu on the deck upstairs. Chef Dave Bishop is at the kitchen’s helm, creating the incredible cuisine in a casual, yet comfortable fine dining atmosphere.
My party first enjoyed the Baked Oysters Seaside- a platter filled with plump , juicy oysters, and topped with a “seaside butter”, containing chopped scallops, shrimp, cilantro, salt, pepper, then Panko bread crumbs, before being baked in the oven and served with fresh lemon. This dish alone is what my forthcoming cookbook, The New Florida Table, is about. Taking something so basic and unique to our region, before turing it into something with flair to savor.
Next, fresh local spinach from Mac Farms was tossed in a house made sugar cane vinaigrette, containing chives, and thyme. It was topped with ripe strawberries, sliced almonds, and we devoured it at a record pace, since we had decide to share the dish.
Our entree selections included the Whole (redfish) Catch Of The Day. It was scored and stuffed with thyme and lemon prior to baking in the oven, and then topped with capers and lemon, and served on a bed of arugula, with steamed new potato’s and hericot vert (green beans) on the side.
Not surprising, my favorite dish of the evening was the Grouper With Spring Succotash. My plate looked of art and my palate sang with the taste of baby limas, sweet corn, cut okra, cherry tomatoes, and lemon juice, that married together, before being finished in a an herb buttered sauce, topping the basmati rice, that was then topped with the grilled grouper and lemon aioli.
Last, was a dish I can’t leave Bud & Alley’s without ordering. The duo of lump Crab Cakes are always so moist and delicious. They do not contain any filler, and are rolled in Panko bread crumbs, perfectly pan seared, and topped with a lemon vinaigrette. Simple, yet soulful.
It is no wonder that Bud & Alley’s has garnered numerous awards, including Florida Trend Magazines Golden Spoon Hall of Fame Award, an honor only reserved for only 30 Florida restaurants. Chef Emeril Lagasse, a local resident and also a fan of Bud & Alley’s, filmed a segment for Emeril’s Florida with Rauschkolb and Bishop that aired on the Cooking Channel.
Though eating fresh is best in the state of Florida, the Panhandle can’t always rely on the weather and temperatures to cooperate with what is going on in South Florida, as we are located (for the most part) under the state of Alabama. Mac Farms, Greens Man Gardens, Sintl Gardens, WaterStreet Seafood, Harbor Docks, Destin Ice, Bon Appetit Bakery, Adams Produce, and Louisiana Lagniappe, are just some of the reliable producer’s that supply this great restaurant and our locals and toruists with Fresh From Florida products to enjoy.
Do you have a favorite restaurant serving Fresh From Florida fare, or have a favorite Florida food you like to cook at home with? I’d love to hear about it in the Fresh From Florida comments below! For more information, follow Fresh from Florida on Facebook here, and Fresh from Florida on Twitter here.
Bud & Alley’s is located in Seaside, at 2236 East Highway 30-A, and can be reached by phone at (850) 231-5900 or by email at email@example.com. Visit their website at www.budandalleys.com to make reservations, or to view the live webcam of Seaside beach and Bud and Alley’s Rooftop Deck. Lunch is available from 11:30 am to 3pm daily, and dinner is served 5:30 pm to 10 pm. The Roof-Top Deck is open from 11:30 am until late into the night. In winter months, closing times may vary. Plan to also visit sister restaurants, Pizza Bar and Taco Bar as well.
Photos: Susan Benton