Fall Break 2017, the briefest of breaks, is coming to an end. As I sit here on the bed in the cute condo we found for a super great price, I am recharged but kind of sad to leave.
First, if you have never been to the 30A area of the Florida Gulf Coast, you must go. Soon. I mean plan it for your very next get away. The beaches are truly among the most beautiful in the world. I have seen a lot of beaches around the world, not in the Pacific Far East or South Africa, but in other countries and in other parts of the U. S.
The beaches of 30A are pristine with fluffy, white sand beaches that feel like powdered sugar when you dig your toes in. The water can sometimes be a little rough with some fun waves for those with body boards and huge floats. It can also be extremely calm and completely like glass where all the little fishes under the water are very visible and freak me out a bit.
The different beaches of 30A each have their own flavor. Seacreast, Seaside, Seagrove all sound alike but they are a little different and not next door to one another. Grayton, Alys, Rosemary, and Santa Rosa beaches are all also part of 30A with their individual flairs. The most upscale of the group, which is relative since they are all upscale, are Alys, Santa Rosa (Watercolors), and Rosemary. These beaches and their living areas have a Mediterranean resort feel to them. There are shops of all types of offerings. The liquor and wine stores are very boutiquish. The restaurants and cafes serve fresh food and are somewhat difficult to get into during the lunch rush. The food and atmosphere are usually worth the wait. You will likely get a pager or buzzer if you place your name on a list and then you can walk around and enjoy all the sites and shops of the area.
Also, if you like bike riding, then this is your jam. Since most of the rental houses and condos are not on the beach, many choose to rent or bring their bikes. There are paths for bikers, joggers, and walkers that make you feel guilty to ride in a car for anything less than a three-mile trip.
If you do decide to drive, expect traffic and build in time to park. There are plenty of places to eat so deciding where is not easy. Rely on word of mouth references and ask the locals who work at the rental places. Also, if you recognize that someone is an owner in a complex, chances are he or she has eaten at most of the places near by. There are no chain restaurants, thank goodness, so be prepared to be a little adventurous.
While on this last trip, we tried Cuvee at Inlet Beach first. Walking in you feel like you are in a European city restaurant. It is dimly lit with festive lights. The atmosphere is fun yet relaxed. The waiter was extremely helpful and attentive. Both dishes served were perfectly cooked and delighted the senses. The wine paired with my dish was equally amazing. There was an extensive wine list as well as a classic yet hip cocktail menu. Jason’s cocktail of choice was artfully blended. Cuvee was upscale without a haughty feel. The food and beverages could be described elogently understated. I highly recommend this off the beaten path retreat.
Summer Kitchen was not as much of a pleasure to try during lunch. This little cafe in the heart of Rosemary Beach was packed with teenagers from a local Nashville private school who were casually standing among the outside tables. Inside there were a few tables open but the waiter stated he thought there was a wait. We opted to wait for two seats at the bar which opened up fairly quickly. Once seated, we order a glass of white wine and a beer. The drinks came fairly quickly but the staff seemed to move at a snail’s pace. There were three service providers and another person who occasionally came in and out of the kitchen. It took quite a while to get our order and the food was rather disappointing. Jason’s Ahi sandwich was no where near to being evenly cooked. Fortunately, he said the second half was much better and more evenly cooked than the first half. My chicken wrap was full of tasteless dark meat chicken. Dark meat is fine with me in certain situations but with a chicken wrap, I expected white meat with some flavor. The meal was fairly expensive for the quality of the food and the service. I would not go back to this establishment unless I really did not have a lot of choices.
Finally, on our last night (we ate at our friends’ house for Friday night), we discovered George’s at Alys Beach. What a fun and beautiful atmosphere! This adorable restaurant is located in a new house that is meant to feel old. The seating inside is a little cramped but the outside is amazing. There are large tables on the wrap around porch and there is a huge flagstone patio that has lights strung giving that area a very romantic feel. Additionally, there is a an open air seating area and a roof top with a bar ledge and seats. There is no bar service up there but you can order at the bar and take your cocktails to the rooftop. The food was eclectic and so very good. I had grilled chicken with my ratatouille ravioli an Jason had a trio of fish, shrimp and oysters. Let’s just say there was very little left on either plate. As for the adult beverages, the wine and cocktails were well priced for the quality. This is a place we would love to make a regular for every visit to 30A!
While this trip was very short, really too short, it was so unbelievable fun and filled with friends, sun and great food. If you go to 30A anytime soon, take sunscreen, your patience in getting from place to place, cute outfits paired with flip flops, and an appetite.