Of all the restaurants to choose from for my birthday dinner, there was no mental deliberation. I knew I wanted another visit to The Shrimp Boat. Located in Historic St. Andrews, it's a very short drive from Panama City Beach, but a long way from the typical seafood buffet restaurants located on the beach.
I will never lead you astray, dear blog followers. This restaurant is a hidden gem where everyone that visits the Gulf Coast should be dining. Our service was impeccable thanks to Sarah, our server. The atmosphere is quiet and we were able to have a conversation without yelling across the table to one another. The view is gorgeous overlooking the marina.
I started my birthday celebration with a Cosmo.
And Sweet Harold had a pomegranate martini.
Now let's enjoy those appetizers! We started with Shrimp Pompano: Gulf shrimp marinated in Soy Dijon sauce, wrapped in applewood smoked bacon and grilled to perfection, served with a Dijon drizzle and scallions. Yes, these were amazing. The grilling of the shrimp wrapped in bacon is delicious in and of itself, but add that Dijon drizzle and it takes the shrimp to another level.
And because I was craving oyster and it WAS my birthday......how about some Char Roasted Oysters, too!?! Apalachicola Selects topped with the Shrimp Boat's "not so secret cheese and garlic sauce" are then roasted over native hardwoods to give the awesome smokey flavor that makes them great.
When I visited here a few months ago, I forgot to take pictures of the salads.....yes, I forgot this time as well. That is a real shame, because they are beautifully presented. This time I had the house made citrus vinaigrette. Sweet Harold chose the creamy red wine / feta cheese dressing. He loved it!
Now on to the main event!
Regular readers of the blog and followers of Fleur de Lolly on Facebook, (you are a friend of mine on FB, aren't you??) know that Sweet Harold's seafood of choice is Grouper in any form. He selected the Grouper St. Andrews which is a large piece of fresh grouper wood fired and then topped with rich lump crab meat and a lemon caper sauce to finish.
Here's a direct quote from Sweet Harold, "I only thought I had enjoyed grouper before." Now if that's not a ringing endorsement I don't know what is.
And now for the birthday girl's meal. And boy did I go outside my box. But I knew that if I ordered this dish it would be perfectly prepared. It WAS! The center cut Ahi Tuna filet is lightly seasoned and grilled over hard woods, served with Asian reduction. Sarah had asked how I wanted it cooked. I told her I trusted the chef to cook it perfectly. It literally melted in my mouth. I could not have asked for a better Birthday Meal!
And a side note about the side dish of baked potato....You know sometimes when you order a baked potato as a side item, you can tell before it is placed before you that it was perfectly cooked.....HOURS AGO. On the other end of the spectrum, you have the beautiful, eye appealing potato, you place your fork into what appears to be a fluffy mound of yumminess....but no. Your fork finds a hard, crunchy interior that needs another half hour in the oven. Yes, I am a baked potato snob. I'm not ashamed of that in the least. If you're going to go to the trouble of baking a potato for your restaurant diners, then please bake them correctly. You know what? The Shrimp Boat knows how to bake potatoes. If they care enough to make sure your SIDE ITEM is perfect, you know they are going to deliver on your entree.
We shared a Key Lime Pie for dessert. A special thanks to Bruce, who I was told, made sure my birthday dessert plate was oh so special and pretty. See? A restaurant that cares to take the time to make every portion of your meal the best it can be.
Once again, I give a huge shout out to the Shrimp Boat, Sarah our most wonderful server, and the behind the scenes staff who gave me a wonderful meal for my birthday that I won't forget.
4 out of 4 forks!!!