Dining on the Edge
Fine Dining Waterfront Restaurants
Written by Doug Simmons
There may be no place more conducive to fine cuisine than where surf meets turf. Here are seven waterfront restaurants where a heady mix of salt air, fresh flavors and delectable settings make for a most memorable gastronomic experience to celebrate that special occasion or just because.
The Cannery Seafood of the Pacific
Newport Beach, California
The Western Canners Company in Newport Beach,Calif. once turned out 5,000 cases of tinned fish a day. Some 90 years later on the same spot, the Cannery Seafood of the Pacific (949-566-0060, cannerynewport.com) has swapped quantity for quality with a selection of fresh seafood, steaks, chicken, salads, sushi and sashimi. Eat overlooking the harbor or aboard your own boat at the restaurant’s 225-foot dock. Servers will bring a variety of platters — seafood, fruits and cheeses, wraps, fresh vegetables — right to you. The kitchen uses only wild, line-caught fish and certified Angus beef. Pair your order with a varietal from the Cannery’s Wine Spectator Awarded list. After dinner, hit the upstairs lounge for lively entertainment or stroll the rest of Cannery Village, which offers more eateries, art galleries and the popular Regency Lido Theater.
If you feel like you've been transported to the Côte d’Azur upon entering L’Escale (203-661-4600, lescalerestaurant.com), it’s probably due to the 200-year-old terra cotta floor tiles and the ancient wood-burning fireplace, both imported from southern France. But the setting is modern and hip, too, with a terrace bar fronting the Delamar Greenwich Harbor (203-661-9800, thedelamar.com) and more than 500 feet of dock space for visiting boaters. Serving breakfast, lunch and dinner — as well as a popular Sunday brunch — the menu at L’Escale features quality seafood and shellfish, seasonal vegetables, and regional herbs and spices served in a contemporary Provencal style. The restaurant shares its address with The Delamar, Connecticut’s first luxury waterfront hotel, and lies steps from downtown Greenwich and its chic shopping avenues. Even more reason to stay for multiple meals.
The Dining Room
Little Palm Island, Florida
Exquisite. Romantic. Absolute paradise. Those are a few of the words Zagat used to describe this culinary oasis on Little Palm Island in the Florida Keys. The eponymous resort where the restaurant is located (305-872-2524, littlepalmisland.com) is accessible only by sea-plane or boat, giving it a luxe, secret hideaway feel — air-conditioned thatched roof bungalows, shaded hammocks hanging from palm trees, white sandy beaches. You get the picture. The Dining Room itself has a terrace overlooking the beach as well as a candlelit indoor area; both are open for breakfast, lunch and dinner. The menu is termed “modern tropical cuisine,” a blend of French and Pan Latin flavors using local seafood and produce. Little Palm Island Resort & Spa’s marina has 575 feet of dock space bordering a protected lagoon, ideal for visiting vessels.
Harbour Island, Bahamas
This breezy spot at The Coral Sands Hotel (242-333-2350, coralsands.com) on Harbour Island overlooks the sea, as its name suggests, and is exactly what you might expect from a restaurant at a Bahamian boutique resort: laid-back, soulful, refined. The real amazements are on the menu prepared by Executive Chef Ludo Jarland, who has helmed a number of top restaurants in Europe and the Bahamas and is a devotee of fresh and local ingredients. Choose from entrees like coconut-crusted mahi-mahi, seafood risotto, organic chicken breast tagine — and don’t miss the signature French-Caribbean bouillabaisse. Dock one mile away at Valentines Resort & Marina (866-389-6864, valentinesresort.com) for fuel service, electric (30, 50 and 100 amps), unlimited fresh water and WiFi at every slip, as well as access to resort amenities.
Boca Raton, Florida
An elegant evening awaits you at this modern yet timeless Mediterranean restaurant, which overlooks the Intracoastal Waterway from inside the Boca Raton Resort & Club. Lucca (888-543-1277, bocaresort.com) showcases an open kitchen, hand-blown Murano chandeliers, lavish seating and inventive Tuscan cuisine with dishes such as wood-fired octopus and scallops piccata. An award-winning wine list accompanies the carefully chosen fresh ingredients, adding to the sophisticated ambiance. To eat here, diners must be escorted by a hotel guest or member. Staying at the Boca Raton Resort & Marina qualifies (lxrluxurymarinas.com). It offers 32 slips accommodating vessels up to 170 feet, with direct access to the Atlantic Ocean, 24-hour staffing and a half-mile of private beach.
Cumberland Island, Georgia
Dining at the Greyfield Inn (904-261-6408, greyfieldinn.com) is not a tryst but rather an ongoing love affair. That’s because the majestic mansion by the sea is the only accommodation, and only kitchen, on the pristine island, which itself is only reachable by boat. The day starts with fruit, eggs, pancakes or one of the chef ’s specialties. The inn provides a full picnic lunch for patrons to enjoy as they explore the Cumberland Island National Seashore and invites everyone back for drinks and hors d’oeuvres at cocktail hour. Dinner is a casual yet stylish affair (jackets are required for men) served in the soft glow of candlelight. Nightly entrees feature fresh and creative cuisine, accompanied by a selection from the wine cellar. For those visiting on their own boat, the inn has a floating dock that guests may use with prior reservations.
St. Michaels, Maryland
In a region well known for restaurants that cater to the cruising set, Stars at the Inn at Perry Cabin by Belmond (410-745-2200, belmond.com) is one of the best. The feel is high-end nautical, with floor-to-ceiling windows providing panoramic views of the lawn and the water beyond. The menu features fresh seafood and the finest meats paired with farm-to-table ingredients and a simple but elegant approach — butter-poached lobster, all-natural center-cut fillet — along with an exceptional wine list. You can dine inside or on the terrace, walking right up from your boat. Dock at the inn (there are no docking fees for guests dining or staying there) or at nearby St. Michaels Marina (410-745-2400, stmichaelsmarina.com), which has 54 transient slips and full services, including a pool and sun deck.