Caliza at Alys Beach
9581 E. Co. Hwy. 30-A, Alys Beach, 850-213-5700 map

I had the pleasure of dining with an absolutely wonderful group at Caliza at Alys Beach this past Saturday. Alys Beach recently opened this private venue to the public on Thursday, Friday and Saturday evenings so everyone that wants to has the opportunity to experience the Alys Beach lifestyle for a night.

As expected, it was just delightful – the ambiance, the food, the service – all were top notch. I can’t articulate how stunning the architecture and decor is at Caliza Pool and won’t do it an injustice by even attempting to describe it here. You have to experience it first hand yourself – trust me on this one. What I loved was that dinner service is held in one of the covered coves next to the pool so you are dining al fresco but are still protected somewhat in the event of a stray shower. It’s just a magical ambiance.

Director of Food and Beverage, Olivier Gaupin (yes, my other half!), who is single-handily manning theCaliza stove at the moment, has created an incredible menu that can be best described as Coastal Cuisine with French and Southern influences. Local specialties from the Gulf are featured on the menu (see the full menu below) – oysters, shrimp, Snapper, and a to-die-for classic Bouillabaisse. Also found are Filet Mignon, NY Strip, Piedmont Free Range Chicken and the best homemade pommes frites and chips seasoned with sea salt. Chef Olivier has high standards and only uses the freshest and highest quality products available which shines through in the finished product. Complicated food it’s not which is what I think makes it absolutely fabulous.

In all honesty, it was really hard for me to choose from the menu. I was torn between pretty much everything and wished I could’ve sampled it all. I settled on Tuna Tartare ($16) for my first course which was made with raw, sushi-grade tuna tossed in a celery remoulade and served with a little lightly dressed arugula salad, Boquerone (Spanish Anchovy) and garlic croutons. One word – YUM! The tuna was incredibly fresh and I adore celery remoulade (remoulade is like the French version of tartare sauce – a mayo-based condiment). It was a generous portion but it’s a light dish – a perfect starter that leaves you ready for the next course.

 For my main course, I had the Local Snapper ($27) which was grilled and served atop a frisee salad with shallot bacon vinaigrette and a tarragon shallot remoulade. The delectably fresh Snapper was grilled perfectly – it was flaky and moist and went beautifully with the remoulade. I totally recommend it. Two of my dinner companions had the Fish and Chips and raved about it. The homemade pommes frites and homemade chips are served in these adorable little white boxes lined with paper – such a beautiful and noteworthy presentation! Two others had the Bouillabaisse, another had the Piedmont Free Range Chicken and another Half Lobster. Everyone really enjoyed their food – most made the clean plate club! It was an excellent meal through and through and I don’t think there is anything on the menu that would cause one disappointment that they had ordered it.

I couldn’t believe it when I realized we had been at the table for almost 3 hours. It was yet another reminder to me that there are few greater pleasures in life than sitting around a table with great people, excellent food and wine and a stellar ambiance – life is good!

Caliza is open for dinner on Thursday, Friday and Saturdays from 6-9pm. Reservations are limited and required. For more inforamtion or to make a reservation, call please call 850-213-5700.

CALIZA MENU

BEGIN:

* Tuna Tartare: Celery Remoulade / Arugula / Boquerone / Garlic Croutons 16
* Old Fashioned Tomato Salad: Heirloom Tomatoes / Grilled Corn / Shaved Onions / Fava Beans / Basil Garlic Pesto / Fresh Squeezed Lemon / Shaved Parmesan Reggiano / Crispy Bacon 12
* Grilled Peaches and Smoked Duck: Honey, Lemon Glazed Duck Breast / Grilled Peaches / Crunchy Spicy Pecans / Frisée / Shaved Parmesan Reggiano 11
* Farmer Jones Spring Lettuce: Assorted Baby Lettuces / Grapefruit / Avocado / Shaved Onions / Chives / Dijon Vinaigrette 9

SHELLFISH:

* Oysters on the Half Shell: Served on Ice / Shallot Lemon Mignonette / Cilantro Lime Cocktail Sauce 7
* Fried Apalachicola Oysters: Curry Remoulade / Fennel, Onion Slaw 7
* Chilled Half or Whole Lobster: Basil Garlic Mayonnaise / Frisee Salad / Shallot Bacon Vinaigrette 20 / 36
* Fresh Apalachicola Peel and Eat Shrimp: Served on Ice / Fresh Squeezed Lemon / Cilantro Lime Cocktail Sauce 14
* Fruits de Mer: Served on Ice / Oysters / Spiny Lobster / Local Shrimp / Sherry Stone Clams / Shallot Lemon Mignonette / Cilantro Lime Cocktail Sauce 35

SEA:

* Local Snapper: Grilled Whole / Squeezed Lemon / Tarragon Shallot Remoulade / Frisee Salad / Shallot Bacon Vinaigrette 27
* Fish And Chips: Local Fish Fry / Homemade Potato Chips / Sea Salt /Tartar Sauce 24
* Classic Bouillabaisse: Tomato Saffron Broth / Grilled Country Bread / Saffron Garlic Mayonnaise / Shrimp / Scallops / Clams / Mussels / Selection of Market Fresh Fish 33

LAND:

* 8oz Filet: Grilled / Pommes Frites / Béarnaise Sauce or Pepper Sauce / Frisee Salad / Bacon Shallot Vinaigrette 31
* 10oz New York Strip: Grilled / Pommes Frites / Bearnaise Sauce or Pepper Sauce / Frisée Salad / Bacon Shallot Vinaigrette 30
* Piedmont Free Range Chicken: Pan Roasted / White Asparagus / Pee Wee Potato / Mediterranean Olives / Basil / Shallot / Tomato and Caper Relish 25

SIDE:

* Pommes Frites: Sea Salt Seasoned 4
* Homemade Chips: Sea Salt Seasoned 3
* Grilled Asparagus: Provencal Relish 4
* Haricots Vert: Sauteed with Garlic / Shallots / Chives 4

SWEET:

* Lemon Buttermilk Chess Tart: The Southern Standard / Buttery, Rich and Sweet 7
* Florida Strawberry Soup: Cinnamon Citrus Red Wine Base / Vanilla Shortcake / French Vanilla Beans 7
* Flourless Chocolate Cake: Served Warm / Kalhua Cream 7

Reviewed by Jill Gaupin

Jill is die-hard foodie and a big part of her life revolves around eating, cooking, and drinking wine…oh, and talking about eating, cooking and drinking wine, too.