Eating out on Alabama’s Gulf Coast

My family is from Alabama, and each summer we travel to the Gulf Coast to get together with the whole extended bunch. While this seafood mecca has its own challenges for the meatless, I had some fantastic food on our latest trip. The best meal, hands-down, was at Saltwater Grill in the Grand Hotel Marriott Resort in Point Clear. While I thought that the Vegetarian Medley sounded a little boring at first, it was, in fact, divine: crisp-tender sautéed julienne vegetables atop rice pilaf, served over a creamy roasted red pepper coulis. While it was the only vegetarian entrée offered on the menu, the chef came to the table to offer to make a custom dish—so there are other options if you ask. A Gulf Coast seafood restaurant having a vegetarian option in print is certainly progress.


         While in the area, we enjoyed exploring Fairhope, an unusual beachside community that’s loaded with interesting shops, including Javis Davis, which has the best selection of children’s home décor fabrics that I’ve ever seen, and Panini Pete’s, which has the best beignets I’ve ever had (sorry, New Orleans). Panini Pete’s eggy take on these French doughnuts taste more like a soft, moist cream puff or popover (no doubt made with some version of a choux pastry), and is served with the de rigueur powdered sugar, of course, but also with fresh lemon slices to squeeze over them. No wonder they run out every morning.


         And on our way out of town we had lunch at what’s advertised as Baldwin County’s oldest restaurant. I ordered the vegetable plate, which is any choice of several vegetable side dishes, but as I found out the hard way, some of those dishes have bacon in them. And that is how I wound up with the vegetable plate pictured below, which, if I’m not mistaken, has very little in the way of vegetables on it.