For the past 2 years, Todd and I have attended a convention held at the Bay Point Marriott Golf Resort & Spa in Panama City Beach, Florida, and have had mixed results eating at a few of their house restaurants. What follows is a brief report for each of the 3 we’ve tried over that time period.
Lime’s Bayside Bar & Grill (pdf menu)
The best thing about Lime’s is the gorgeous bay view afforded from the entire restaurant. It’s a bit of a trek down a boardwalk over the water to this casual dining restaurant with outdoor seating at high tables and pretty basic food. In fact, I think I ordered the fish tacos but they didn’t make that much of an impression on me. Still, the prices are decent, the drinks tasty (I believe we both had the Bay Point Breeze–rums, cranberry and pineapple juices) and were there just at sunset. Like I said, go for the view. Also appropriate as a casual place to unwind with some friends after a day of beach fun.
Kingfish Restaurant & Sushi Bar (pdf dinner menu)
This is the primary in-house restaurant for the Bay Point Marriott and you’d expect–with a name like Kingfish–that the seafood would be impeccable, right? Unfortunately, the best thing I’ve found at the Kingfish is their burgers.
The first year at this resort, just after their renovation if the convention’s website was to be believed, we ate at the Kingfish for one lunch and one breakfast. The burgers we had that day were fantastic–juicy, flavorful, basically what you expect of a nice burger. Of course it’s a little pricier than I’d have preferred, but it’s a hotel restaurant , they have an all-but captive audience thanks to the hotel’s somewhat remote location on St Andrew’s Bay, so a higher price tag comes with the territory. The following morning’s breakfast was passable (my companions got the buffet but I’m of the mind that if I wanted to serve myself, I’ll stay at home and cook, so I ordered the French Toast) but nothing really spectacular. What did stand out was the scattered service of the morning which left–pardon the pun–a bad taste in my mouth.
Our most recent visit, however, we ate at Kingfish for dinner the first night. This turned out to be a horrendous mistake. The menu was mostly what we remembered, we weren’t overly hungry or in the mood for cocktails so went straight to the entrees. I ordered the Shrimp & Scallops (which, at the time, was being served with a savory rice cake; I notice the current menu online lists a different accompaniment and a slightly lower price) which, after quite some wait, strange for a mostly deserted restaurant–we’ve never witnessed it full, either year, came out beautifully presented. Alas, looks are only skin deep as the 6 shrimp and 3 scallops (at a price tag of $32, if I recall correctly) were overcooked to the point of rubber–they were chewy, dry, and could be shredded like the faux crab meat into little, plastic, chunks.
Now, honestly, I’ve worked in a high-end restaurant and I know what can happen to dishes that are sent back, but I could not, in the name of good taste, possibly eat this. So, after waiting for the waiter to finally come check on us, I apologetically (only out of habit, that chef should have been apologizing to me and his fishmonger) returned the dish as inedible. Todd opted to keep his Shrimp Pizza even though it, too, was slightly overcooked. Not willing to wait for another potentially ruined bit of seafood, I punted and went with the burger, at least I could count on it, right? I ordered it Medium Rare. It came out Medium. While it was acceptable (and I certainly wasn’t going to send something ELSE back), I doubt I’ll eat there again.
30° Blue Pub & Eatery (pdf menu)
Not part of the main hotel complex, 30° Blue is in the condo section of the resort, surrounded by shops and stores. It was a stone’s throw from our room in the Golf Villas but, since you can’t walk across the course, it’s a little bit of a trek to get to it. Let me tell you, though, it was well worth the walk!
I’d actually heard of 30° Blue–or what I thought was it–back in Culinary School and understood it to be somewhat upscale restaurant with really good sushi. I think I confused it with a place down in Destin , the more I think about it, but whatever–we tried this 30° Blue and were more than pleased. It’s not much to look at, really. There’s a big oblong bar dominating most of the room, televisions playing the latest golf coverage, and booths and tables ringing the outside walls which have plenty of windows but not much in the way of view.
The food, though, that’s another story. At the enthusiastic urging of our waitress we tried the Spinach & Artichoke Dip appetizer which, she claimed, was the best she’s ever had. It was a large dish, bubbling with cheese and featuring quartered artichoke hearts studded through it. That’s probably the only thing I’d have changed about it because it made it harder to scoop up with the fresh chips it was served with–chop the artichokes, it’s okay, we’ll still know they’re there. Todd ordered another recommendation: the Mahi Mahi sandwich, grilled, while I ordered the Fish & Chips. Unlike at the Kingfish, this seafood came out perfectly prepared: tender, flaky, flavorful. It was a revelation after the previous experiences over the past 2 years. In fact, my portion of fish was so large I couldn’t finish it all and took half of it back to the room. Later that night I heard it calling my name, though, and even after spending several hours in the mini-fridge the breading on both the fish and the onion rings was not that heavy, cold-oil taste you’d expect but just as clean and fresh as when it was originally served to me. Now that’s a proper frying that can stand cold storage and still be tasty!
The future of the convention that brought us here is uncertain as of this writing, but if we ever find ourselves back at the Bay Point Marriott we’ll happily wander over to30° Blue again and probably give Lime’s another try. Otherwise, we’ll be eating off-site.