Friday, April 4, 2008


My first attempt at a restaurant review.....

While vacationing at my parents’ house in Santa Rosa Beach, FL, my husband and I have remarked that, even though we are in a fairly rural area, there are quite a lot of really good restaurants that line these sleepy, sandy beach roads. Our dinner last night was so pleasantly surprising, I knew that I would have to add it this experience to my blog.

Admittedly, I was skeptical of the recommendation as soon as I heard the name. Stinky’s is not exactly a name I would attach to a seafood restaurant. The sign tells you that “with a name like that, it has to be good”, YIKES! Who thought of that?? Even though we had heard how fantastic it is, I just couldn't get past that ridiculous name. The building itself resembled a couple of modular homes attached in phases – on a cinder block foundation - I walked in with trepidation. We requested the back screened-in porch to seat the five of us and I felt right at home with the surrounding frog and cricket orchestra. It was the sound of real coastal Florida, a nostalgic sound for me. I grew up in Florida and I often miss that lazy summer sound. The wine list was the first real sign that we might be in for more than I had bargained for, it is extensive and the prices are very reasonable. Our waiter, Matt, told us that the chef/owner, Jim Richard, a CIA graduate, wants to move wine and prices bottles $10 – $15 under most other restaurants. This was another plus and things are really starting to look up. We decided on an Oregon Pinot Noir. (Cloudline, 2006, $42).

Soon we learn that the three chefs in the kitchen are all CIA grads. I certainly was not expecting to hear that, my earlier skeptisism was really beginning to wane. Maybe this will be as good as they say? Once the wine was poured and our orders were in our waiter enlightens us on other local restaurants that we should visit and also that he runs a kayaking outfit in the area. He’s super nice and a delight to talk to. Even as our dinners arrive, he stays to chat and though this could be annoying somewhere else, we all enjoy the conversation.

Everyone devoured their meal and there are a few reasons why it's so good: all the fish served is caught locally, vegetables are organic (or hydroponic) and come from within 100 miles of the restaurant – wow! I ordered grouper, cobia, (my husband), wahoo, (my sister) and fried shrimp basket, (dad). My mom has a spinach salad and a bite of everyone’s meal. The fish we ordered blackened (It can be fried or grilled as well), it's an earthy mix of spices - mainly paprika - which doesn’t over power the delicate flavors of the fish. Those wonderful local and organic vegetables are sautĂ©ed without any fuss and my cheese grits made me want to do somersaults. I had to order a side of hush puppies, (fried cornbread fritters) for my husband, who had never had the Southern delicacy. More, please!

It's clear that chef Jim Richard and company know what they are doing, the food is simple, yet subltly sophisticated for a family-style restaurant. We all left perfectly satisfied, and it occurs to me as we get into the car that Stinky’s might actually be the perfect name for this restaurant because with name like that, it HAS to be good. And it really is.

Stinky's Fish Camp
5994 County Rd. 30 - A
Santa Rosa Beach, FL 32459

Looking for a place to vacation? Try Santa Rosa Beach in Florida's Gulfcoast. It is true coastal Florida and is untouched by corporate crap, (there is a Starbucks). My parents' have a house in a development called Watercolor and it's quite special. Houses are available for rent and there is a fabulous hotel, The Watercolor Inn, offering rooms starting at about $350/night. The beach here has sugar-white sand and sapphire blue water. Everything is first-class with somehow still capturing a soulful, beachy classic coastal vibe. (Skip summer months, waaay too hot!)

1 comment:

Richie said...

I agree with you on your assessment of Stinky's. It is so GOOD!!! thanks for the blog and taking me down memory lane of a great meal while we were at the beach.