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Thursday, May 3rd, 2018
Dining Reviews

George’s at Alys Beach: Comfortable Elegance and a Rainbow of Flavors

George’s at Alys Beach serves lunch and dinner in a stylishly painted wooden beach-style house. There’s a main dining room, a porch and rooms on both sides with more tables, and ample views all around. A sheltered waiting area sits next to the building, with couches, TV and a service bar. George’s seating is first-come, first-served, and you can get a beverage and climb the stairs to an observation area. The color scheme is white, green and grey, with wood accents, clean and restful.

My wife and our daughter Grace (the Tiny Diner) had dinner at George’s on a recent weeknight. It was sunny but breezy, so I was glad to get an inside seat. Our server (Melissa) got us drinks, described and answered questions about menu items, and left us to decide.

George’s dinner menu offers starter/share plates, salads, and entrees titled “be-have” (lighter fare) and “mis-be-have” (more substantial fare). There’s a separate dessert menu—which you might want to consult before you order your main meal—and a wine and beer list. The menus vary seasonally.

We decided to start with an app and a salad, and share them. The starters list included lobster quesadilla, spicy Thai mussels with grilled baguette, tuna poke lettuce wraps, calamari “fries” and a sampler of seafood charcuterie. Salads were Mexican street corn salad, lump crab and watermelon, and arugula. We chose the charcuterie and the corn salad.

The chef at George’s likes vegetables and fruits. Many items include a mix of both, including fruit- and vegetable-based or infused marinades, sauces and dressings. Sweet, sour, hot and spicy flavors pervade, and it’s all quite colorful.

The seafood charcuterie consisted of seafood torchon (a terrine or “sausage” of seafood), smoked salmon croquettes, puckery little cornichons, and crackers. The smoky salmon added depth to the crisp fried, creamy on the inside croquettes, and the torchons had the sweetness of crabmeat. Grace was even persuaded to try a bite.

The salad was a hit. Roasted white corn scattered through the greens added sweetness and crunch, and sliced oranges and avocado paired well visually and on the palate. The slightly sweet plantain chips helped scoop up the corn dressing. Again, Grace had her share.

For the main course, we took two of Melissa’s suggestions. My wife ordered spicy salt & pepper shrimp, and I ordered seared sea scallops. Grace got her usual—fried shrimp, side of fruit, keep the lemonade coming.

Each menu item at George’s bears a description of the ingredients (not their pedigree, just what they are). The shrimp are cooked in a creamy Thai vinaigrette (a touch of mayo adds texture), and served with basmati rice, snow peas, chunks of melon and charred brussels sprouts. It packs a one-two punch of salt and heat, with sweetness from the fruit and tartness from the sauce. Charred brussels sprouts are edging out asparagus as my favorite vegetable.

Three large sea scallops came to me in a pool of coral-colored lobster buttermilk vichyssoise. They were topped with mango and cabbage slaw, greens, sweet peppers and crisp little discs of chorizo. It was an amazing combination of flavors and textures - warm, cool, sweet, briny, crunchy, tender and luxurious. I ate the scallops—perfectly seared—in little slices. Didn’t want it to end.

Other menu choices are daily fish, jerk-crusted snapper, vegan alfredo fettuccine (with shrimp or chicken options), spiced grilled salmon, angus filet, grilled pork chop, roast chicken, and seafood plates with fried oysters, or fried or grilled grouper or shrimp.

I had seen the dessert menu online, so I had made some preliminary choices. When my wife announced she was too full for dessert, Grace and I had to broker a choice to share. The desserts that night were hummingbird cake with butter cream cheese frosting, key lime pie, island bar (coconut cake with mango mousse), chilled summer bisque (fruits and gluten-free pound cake), mint double chocolate cookie, ice cream, and warm chocolate “goo.” I inclined toward the island bar, but Grace had been such a good girl about trying things that I yielded to her choice—goo it was.

It was a warm cross between a brownie and a pudding, with ice cream, whipped cream, chocolate mousse, chocolate sauce, little chocolate stick cookies, and, oh yeah, berries. Grace ate through about a third before leaving the rest to me. I’d already cleaned my plate and helped my wife with her shrimp, but goo does not travel well, you understand.



GEORGE’S AT ALYS BEACH

30 Castle Harbour Drive

Alys Beach

850-641-0017

Hours: Open daily for lunch 11 a.m.-3 p.m., and dinner 5-9 p.m.

Reservations: Not accepted.

Children’s Menu: Yes

Dress: Casual

Lunch and dinner served daily in a comfortable, elegant atmosphere on 30A, with an absorbing bill of fare that pairs fresh fish, shellfish and meat with fruit, vegetables, herbs and spices for maximum flavor and beautiful presentation. Outstanding sea scallops, salt and pepper shrimp, starters, salads, and desserts worth saving room for—and sharing. Beer and wine, $10-45.