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May 2019

Fishermans Corner

Sitting just over, and almost under, the northeast end of the Theo Baars Bridge is a little place called Fisherman’s Corner. Aptly named, it was once a bait and tackle shop. But that was before the BP oil spill in 2010.

Later that year, businessman Jim Green took an interest in the site. A Louisiana native, Green had owned restaurants before. He had also once owned and operated Tipitina’s, a famous New Orleans jazz club. Partnering with local Willie Brown, a retired tugboat captain, the two opened Fisherman’s Corner in January of 2011.

Chef Andrew Brown helped create the Creole-influenced menu. The nephew of Capt. Willie Brown, Andrew Brown has had an impact on several other area restaurants. He was instrumental in the startup of both the Grayton Seafood Company in Grayton Beach and the Southern Pearl in Pace, Florida. Each is independently owned and has different menus.

 

If you plan to eat at Fisherman’s Corner, be prepared. It’s not much to look at from the outside, and the view isn’t going to wow you. But, if you arrive after five, you might find yourself waiting a couple of hours for a table. Did I mention that you’ll be waiting outside? In the elements. On the small back deck. Maybe even in the parking lot.

By now you might be ready to strike it from consideration — no lovely facade, no breathtaking view, no Bushwhackers. They only sell beer and wine. On the other hand, you’re curious.

The place is a bit of a surprise inside. The table cloths are white, the napkins are linen, and the wine list is extensive. Fisherman’s Corner has been on Wine Spectator’s Restaurant Awards since 2012. The menu is free-ranging – burgers, Po Boys, shrimp and grits, bone-in pork chop with blackberry barbeque sauce, and plenty of fresh seafood selections. If you go, be sure to save room for a bread pudding dessert. 

Our Favs: Gumbo and the New Orleans Praline Pecan Bread Pudding with Whiskey Sauce.

Tips for visiting the Fisherman’s Corner

  • Before you go scroll Yelp, Trip Advisor, or Zomato.
  • Make reservations for dinner, but be prepared for a wait no matter what.
  • Read our post Eating Out or Being Eaten? 2 Mosquito Repellants that Work
  • Avoid the wait by going for lunch or calling in a take-out order.
  • To Go – Ask about service charge up front. After 5 p.m. call an hour before you want to pick up. Don’t call after 7 p.m. during peak season. 
  • Dress casual. Just because they have a $245 bottle of Champagne on the menu doesn’t make it fancy.

Anchor Bar and Grill

If your navigation of Orange Beach consists of turning left onto Canal Road after crossing the toll bridge, hanging a right at the Tom Thumb, and then spending the rest of the week trolling east and west on Perdido Beach Boulevard, you’ve probably never set eyes on the Anchor Bar & Grill. Here’s how to get there. Venture east down Canal Road. Turn right on South Wilson Boulevard. Stop when your tires get wet. 

The Anchor is a small place with mostly outdoor seating. The menu is short and seasonal. Give it a glance, and you’ll see typical bar fare – big burger, Cuban sandwich, fish tacos, etc. But eyeball the ingredients and you’ll see that Chef Johnathan Kastner has a creative streak a mile wide — caramelized onion and tomato jam, Tobacco smoked pork, pickled LA crawfish salsa, and refried butter beans.

Outdoor dining at the Anchor Bar & Grill overlooking the water

A native of Lafayette, Louisiana, Kastner studied culinary arts in Chicago. After gaining experience at several Gulf Coast restaurants, the events that led him to Orange Beach began. In 2013, two friends asked Kastner to develop the menu for their new venture, the original Brick & Spoon restaurant in Lafayette, LA. Just a few months later they opened a second location in Orange Beach. Kastner came to help with the launch.

It wasn’t long before the Louisiana chef decided he wanted to stay. The opportunity to open a restaurant at Hudson Marina quickly followed and the Anchor Bar & Grill opened in 2015. It’s been a favorite of locals and visitors ever since. In 2018 his regulars along with the rest of Orange Beach got to cheer him on as he competed in the Food Network’s Ultimate Summer Cookoff.

Here’s the kicker. What’s better than eating fresh seafood made by someone who knows what they’re doing? Eating your own fresh catch prepared by someone who knows what they’re doing while bragging to your friends about how you reeled it in. That’s right. If you hooked it, but don’t want to cook it, the Anchor will do you the honors.

Our favs: Tile-fish tacos and the Cuban

Tips for visiting the Anchor Bar & Grill

  • Out on the water? Come by boat. The Anchor has a beach and dock tie-up for boats of all sizes.
  • Check hours in the offseason. Winter menu changes weekends.
  • Clean your fish before you bring them. Call ahead to be sure the service is available and what the cost and preparation options will be.

The Gulf

If I’m going to blog about Gulf coast restaurants, there’s no better place to start than The Gulf. This quirky, re-purposed freight container establishment sits at the west end of the Perdido Pass bridge. ‘Location, location, location,’ certainly applies. You won’t find a better, more entertaining view of the Gulf of Mexico than at The Gulf.

From your car window, the place hasn’t much appeal. But the chunky blue containers hide a waterside oasis and an Alabama success story. The brainchild of Shaul Zislin, owner of The Hangout in Gulf Shores, and Johnny Fisher, former general manager of Lulu’s. Fisher later opened Fisher’s Upstairs and Fisher’s Dockside. The original plans for The Gulf included a 600-seat restaurant with a parking deck, boardwalk, and shops. In 2012, however, the seawall at Alabama Point, where the 4.5-acre property is located, needed $7-$10 million in repairs. This meant that the original concept would have to wait.

Picnic tables and palm trees looking out over the Pass between Cotton Bayou and the Gulf of Mexico

Enter Courtney Brett. An architectural phenom, Ms. Brett started her college career in Virginia at the age of 14. At 16, she transferred to Auburn University, graduating with a degree in Architecture in 2007. After working for several years on projects around the globe for a firm out of New York City, Ms. Brett returned to Alabama. At 24, she became the youngest architect in the U.S. to start her own company.

The 2012 opening of Casburn Brett Architecture, in Daphne, Alabama came at just the right time. Brett’s commitment to sustainable architecture and Zislin and Fisher’s desire to open The Gulf sooner rather than later led to the intriguing locale we all now enjoy. What was supposed to be temporary will hopefully be here to stay.

Enjoy a meal or a mojito at The Gulf, and you’ll find a lot more to look at than your smartphone. From dawn to dark you’ll be treated to a non-stop parade of boats. Sailboats, private vessels, fishing charters, dolphin cruises (and dolphins), parasailers, and even the local ‘black and white’ police boats provide continual entertainment as they slide in and out of the gorgeous Gulf of Mexico.

Tips for visiting The Gulf

  • Go early for lunch or expect to wait in line to order your food.
  • You can order food at the bar if you are seated at the bar.
  • Expect for there to be kids playing in the sand and randomly running around having fun.
  • There are two bars & two kitchens. Check the menus at both because they offer different choices.
  • Wear sunscreen and watch the weather forecast. There is no indoor seating in case of rain.
  • Check out the vinyl record collection in the gift shop. That’s the source of the tunes you’ll be hearing.
  • Plan to stay a while because you are going to love the view and the vibe.

Bill E’s Bacon

When a menu boasts locally-sourced ingredients, the source can range from just around the bend to 100 miles away. Around here, it’s likely to be pretty close. The area is lush with farms, pecan groves, freshly caught seafood, and locally harvested oysters. It’s also home to a variety of culinary artisans, Bill Stitt, among them.

Eat at the Original Oyster House in Gulf Shores, and you’ll find Bill E’s Bacon adorning the Oyster’s Rockefeller. Dine at upscale Voyagers, and you’ll see it featured in the Scallops A La Plancha and might even find it garnishing your bread pudding. 

Stitt credits his father with encouraging him to learn a skill. His time as a young man working with a local butcher must have made an impact. Because, after graduating from Ole Miss and working for nearly two decades at the corporate level for Ruby Tuesdays, Bill returned to his craft. His small-batch smoking operation sits alongside the restaurant he also owns, the Old 27 Grill on Hwy 181 in Fairhope, Alabama.

Find out more about the Bill E’ Bacon backstory and the secret to his bacon at MeatandPoultry.com.

Inside or Out? 2 Mosquito Repellents that Work

You’re eating out. No, I mean really eating out – beachside, dockside, charming courtyard, that sort of thing. It’s idyllic. Enfolded by salt air, serenaded by waves, you are one with the sunset — right up until you realize that you, too, are the meal.

From the first slap, which arrives a split second late, it’s ‘game on.’ You begin channeling Grasshopper (a’ la Kung Fu 1972). You command every nerve to report the instant the next tiny bloodsucker makes contact. But, darn — another slap, another miss. Now you want to move inside. It’s too late. The server is headed your way with your order. You start picturing yourself tossing and turning, clawing and scraping all night long. What misery.

My advice – go prepared! A little bug repellent can keep you from slapping yourself senseless. But pick something potent. My favorites are Sunsect Insect Repellent + Sunscreen and Sawyer Picaridin Insect Repellent lotion. Neither comes cheap, but they work better than anything else I’ve tried. I purchase in little foil packets and only apply after I know it’s needed.

Sunsect’s combination of sunscreen and insect repellent is a great combination for our coastal environment for daytime ventures. It does contain DEET, which you might not like. DEET is a chemical insect deterrent developed in response to jungle warfare during WWII. If you want to find out more about insect repellent ingredients, including DEET,  check out this April 2019 Consumer Reports article which says, “The balance of evidence indicates that DEET is safe when used as directed.” 

Picaridin doesn’t use DEET. It contains a synthesized pepper plant ingredient that repels mosquitoes, ticks, and flies. It ranks well with REI shoppers and is recommended by the World Health Organization and the CDC. There are many more products. Whatever your favorite, take some when you head out to eat so that you don’t end up slapping yourself silly in front of your date.

P.S. We have no affiliation with Sunsect or Picaridin or any company that sells these products. It’s just what works for us.