We are so fortunate to have such an abundance of superior food choices and culinary genius on the Gulf Coast, especially in Destin and on 30-A. With so many mouth watering dining choices, the decision of where to eat can often be tough.
One establishment that always comes through for me, is the “froggie-friendly” bungalow-style restaurant called George’s, located in the stunning town of Alys Beach on 30-A. Owners Ann and George Hartley have stood the test of time as far as life in the restaurant business goes, and they manage to maintain George’s and thier sister restaurants, Seagrove Village Market, and La Cocina to the highest of standards.
At Georges, you have the option to “Behave” or “Misbehave” when ordering from the menu, and Executive Chef Gregg Smith offers creative dishes that will take you on a delectable culinary journey. Many of his dishes are seasoned to perfection with an eruption of Gulf Coast flavors, while other dishes are influenced by spices from Spain or Morocco. Chef Gregg is currently focusing on his Spring dishes, like the Seared Sea Scallops with garden mint pea ravioli and yellow tomato coulis, shown above.
George’s has a children’s menu and is accommodating to their patrons; they also offer seating inside or outside on their deck and patio. The fresh black and red grouper are popular menu items, as well as the fried grouper sandwich, which Garden & Gun added to the magazine’s list of 100 Things You Must Eat Before You Die. I personally love Senor Ann’s fish tacos with roasted poblano-lime tartar sauce, and Chef Gregg’s Panhandle Paella.
Whether you choose dishes decadent or healthy while dining at George’s, you can be assured the meal will be luscious, flavor filled, and each dish will contain the freshest locally grown Gulf Coast ingredients.
Recently, Ann and George Hartley along with Chef Gregg Smith and his wife Regina, traveled to Chicago to the National Restaurant Association’s International Food and Wine Show. While there, they met Maneet Chauhan, Celebrity Chef from Food Network’s Iron Chef and Chopped, and ate at her restaurant, Vermillion. I’m jealous!
Below is Chef Maneet Chauhan’s Lobster Portuguese recipe that Ann shared. It was also ranked as one of the best dishes in the United States by USA Today. Chef Chauhan’s says, “One of my favorite dishes is Lobster Portuguese, cooked in a coconut-and-curry-leaf broth; it’s a nice balance between spicy and sweet.”
Courtesy of Vermillion Chef Maneet Chauhan, adapted by 30A EATS.
2 whole lobsters (live- between 8ounces to 1 pound)
- 1 tsp mustard seeds (rye)
- 1/4 cup curry leaves
- ¼ tsp hing, also known as *Asafoetida
- 1 Tbsp whole dried red chili oil
- 4 cans coconut milk
- 1 tsp red chili powder
- 1 tsp turmeric powder
- 1 tbsp sambar powder (commercial curry powder can be substituted)
- salt to taste
- Heat oil. Add mustard seeds, curry leaves, whole dried chilies and hing. Cook until the mustard seeds start to splutter.
- Add coconut milk and remainder of the ingredients. Cook for 3-5 minutes.
- Remove the head of the lobsters and discard.
- Par poach the lobsters in hot water for 3 minutes. Remove them and immediately put them in ice. Shuck the lobster and remove the meat including the knuckle and claw, trying to keep main shell in tact. I cut the belly of the lobster shell to gently peel the shell away from the meat.
- Place the lobster meat in the coconut sauce and cook for 5-6 minutes more minutes.
- Divide the lobster sauce between the two plates, and serve with the lobster tail on top of the sauce for decoration. You may also fill the shell with the sauce for another style of plating. Serve with coconut rice and lassi, as shown in the photo above.
Note: Asafoetida is one of the most distinctive spices in South Indian cuisine that transforms a dish (and the kitchen, and maybe the room adjacent to it) into something magical. It’s one of the most interesting and memorable aromas you encounter when entering a South Indian restaurant or kitchen. When used judiciously the effect is nothing short of transporting; your forays into Indian cooking will benefit immeasurably from its use, for which there’s no substitute. -Max Falkowitz of Serious Eats
George’s at Alys Beach is located on 30 Castle Harbor Drive. You can reach them by phone at 850-641-0041, or visit their website http://www.georgesatalysbeach.com.