The Thirty-A Review January 2021

d i n i n g

A Different Fish b y L i e s e l S c h m i d t

Carolina Pimento Cheese Toast

Heirloom Tomato Toast

Photos courtesy St. Joe Hospitality

O pen since the summer of 2018, FOOW has set itself apart from its competitors and become a locally renowned eatery for all things coastal; presenting a menu of fresh-off-the-docks dishes that displays a deft understanding of flavor combinations and a love for Northwest Florida’s abundance of delicious seafood. “FOOW has long been synonymous with fresh, locally inspired cuisine that celebrates Florida’s best, focusing on creating a locally sourced menu and offering our guests stunning waterfront views and a coastal-casual atmosphere,” says Executive Chef Matt Moore, Director of Food & Beverage at WaterColor Inn & Resort, and who has been with the restaurant since its opening. Adding to his credentials, he was named “Chef of the Year” in 2017 by the American Culinary Federation. About FOOW, Moore says, “We serve up an authentic taste of the Gulf in an ambiance that embodies the spirit of the WaterColor community: coastal, fun, approachable, and always attended with impeccable service.” While FOOW’s imperative of impeccable service and the highest quality of cuisine offering might imply a white-tablecloth ambiance and stuffy atmosphere, they manage to maintain a friendly vibe that welcomes everyone to walk through their doors; from those coming in off the beach to those who just want a night out. “FOOW is Southern hospitality at its best,” says Chef Moore. “We want you to feel like you’re at an old school café where you see familiar faces and you never have to worry about what to wear.” And despite the fact that their food certainly plays an integral part of drawing diners, it is their breathtaking views and unique interior that clinches the deal, creating the perfect place to just sit, relax with a fantastic meal and a great drink, and marvel at the beauty. “The best seat in the house is always guaranteed,” Chef Moore says of the restaurant’s glass walls, which showcase breathtaking views from

woods, offset with textures and patterns that show an understanding of style, perfectly set against massive windows that flood the space with natural sunlight and provide the perfect viewpoint for watercolor-like sunsets. With views like that, one might forget to look at what is presented on one’s plate, but Chef Moore and the cooks in his kitchen make sure that their offerings are no less impressive than the vistas beheld by their guests. Standing firmly on their standard of creating everything in house and putting creativity into every dish, FOOW has devised a menu of delicious signatures featuring fresh caught Gulf seafood and premium steaks, as well as unique Southern comfort-inspired items like Fish Dip and Sweet Tea Chicken. A particular point of pride—and display of determination—are their FOOW Toasts. “We started making sourdough in-house, even though we were unsure about whether or not we could sustain that type of bread in such a small facility, with such limited bakery resources. We soon decided it was worth the result and just figured out the logistics,” says Chef Matt of the new addition to the menu: three different toasts that include their own version of tomato bruschetta with a local buttermilk farm cheese, one with Gulf shrimp and avocado, and a pimento cheese toast. “You can’t get more Southern than that!” Whatever they put their hand to, FOOW and the team behind it are clearly determined to stand out and not fit in. And this is one case where being different definitely works in their favor.

We serve up an authentic taste of the Gulf in an ambiance that embodies the spirit of the WaterColor community: coastal, fun, approachable, and always attended with impeccable service.

every seat. Wall art by local artist Justin Gaffrey adds to the restaurant’s vibrant yet relaxed atmosphere, and the FOOW room provides private parties with a more intimate dining setting amidst an extensive and extremely impressive wine cellar. Clearly, the importance of setting the scene was not lost on FOOW’s owners, who recently completed a redesign led by designer and architect Cooper Carry of The Johnson Studio. The newly imagined space highlights Gulf views and capitalizes on the nearness of South Walton’s white sand beaches. The design also incorporates an open kitchen as well as an expanded Gulf view bar that wraps from the interior to the exterior, seamlessly unifying the two concepts. Continuing the coastal theme are cool seaside colors and warm hickory

FOOW is located at 34 Goldenrod Circle, Santa Rosa Beach, Florida 32459. For more information, call (850) 534-5050 or visit

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