The trouble with eating seafood on the Gulf Coast, is you always end up making a trade-off.
You can pick. Amazing Seafood. Outstanding Atmosphere/Location. Great Service. Reasonable Cost.
These are all available from Gulf Coast restaurants but you can usually only pick one, not all of them.
We knowingly headed to such a trade-off, yesterday as we went to The Hangout in Gulf Shores after a disappointing portrait session. (More on that session, in a later post) We received our pager, a 30 minute wait-time estimate and settled in for some overpriced, mediocre food in a playful atmosphere and great location. That's what we've come to expect from The Hangout and what we were prepared for. An hour later, we received an updated seating estimate of another 30-40 minutes. Annoyed, (and a little confused by the massive crowds on a Monday) we departed The Hangout and set out for something else.
What we found, redeemed the evening for us.
Located near the marina office & outfitter store on the West Side of The Wharf in Orange Beach, on the Intracoastal Canal, sits Bimini Bobs. I'll summarize and say: It is awesome. Go There.
When I kept Stargazer at The Wharf, this location was "Shuckers Restaurant". I spent many hours at Shuckers for lunch on days when I would work from my sailboat. Shuckers was really decent overall, though they had the ironic distinction of having terrible oysters, which -- given their name -- would have been unforgivable had the other food not been pretty decent.
Shuckers was a "very good atmoshphere", "decent food", "okay service", "good price" sort of place on the trade off-scale. They moved.
What we found at Bimini Bobs was a cozy, relaxed atmosphere, whose quietness was a welcome respite from the obnoixous touristy-ness you find down on the Gulf-front. The table/ dining areas are broken up with these really comfortable table / chair sets that really makes the layout of the restaurant feel less restaurant-y and more "just chillin' with my buddies at the docks"-y.
"A Excellent Atmosphere", "Awesome Food", "Epic Service", "Great Price" sort of place now occupies the dockside restaurant area of The Wharf. Bimini Bob's. Seriously, go there.
The service was fantastic. There may have been more employees than customer seats, actually, though I didn't count. We gave them plenty of opportunity to be annoyed with us, showing up only 30 minutes before close and my kids' usual liesure dining pace. (Color some... eat a bite... color some more.. eat a bite.) Hell, they are my kids and *I* get annoyed with how they eat. My phone vibrating every three seconds with some professional emergency here and there didn't help either.
But the good service just kept coming. Genuine smiles, attentive service. We weren't rushed, our food was timed appropriately and the drinks stayed full.
The food was great. The appetizer combo tray of hummice, smoked crab dip & shrimp salad had complimentary flavors and plenty of good pita chips to eat with it. Fish was light and flakey, not overcooked, with a desirable crust. My wife's shrimp, the kid's burgers -- all great.
And the price was less-than-expected. For a trip to The Hangout, 2 adults, 2 kids, we where looking at $90 if I didn't order a beer with the meal, before gratuity. Same party at Bimini Bobs, an appetizer, entrees and two beers we came in right at half-that.
The new layout of the restaurant adds or improves by having fewer tables and more "chill" areas like those pictured here. Not sure if the Marina Company or Restaurant is to thank for this but either way -- it is awesome and works to create a very nice environment right on the Canal, overlooking the fuel docks and Marina.
Look, I don't get paid / this isn't sponsored but when I see somebody do something well, I like to see them get credit. And the folks at Bimini Bobs did a great job of serving us a great meal in a very coastal-chill atmosphere after a frankly otherwise crappy day. :) Did I mention, you should go check it out?