The Thirty A Review March 2021

d i n i n g

The Citizen at Alys Beach b y K e v i n B o y l e

I guess it would be cliché to start an article writing about a cool, new, groundbreaking restaurant concept with “Back in my day...” Color me cliché then because back in my day, 15 years ago, there were five places to eat: Shades in Inlet, the bar at Borago, Paige Schnell’s house, a Sunday Red

The focus on the bev- erage service is obvious with Better Together Beverage owner and Alys Beach veteran Christine Tarpey as the master- mind behind the menu. “Whether it be a shaved ice cocktail or a house-infused spirit, the bar program at The Citizen is built to strad- dle the line between classic cocktails done really well to curations designed with the ad- venturous diner in mind,” Tarpey says. “The wine list contin- ues to walk that line by

Bar burger, or the 2AM Tom Thumb Burrito. I’m not proud of that last one. You could not find a craft cocktail joint or a raw bar where you were not concerned of nicking your elbow on an exposed nail and getting lockjaw. I also did not want to say, “Boy, times have changed...” in my article. But boy, times have

changed. Enter concepts by multiple chefs and fam- ilies, including Shirley, McDonald, Nickerson, the Corchis family, and the Freers. Now the dining options in South Walton are matching the growth of our bustling tourist destination.

offering allocated gems from all over the world to innova- tive natural wine producers who are paving the way in the wine industry. The non-drink- ers are also represented by way of the ‘Zero Proof ’ portion of the beverage menu, which of-

Photos by Julia Kate Mace

One by one, these new concepts raise the bar in quality of both the restaurant design and the menu selection. Last one, I did not want to say, “Well, there’s a new Sheriff in town...” And I won’t say that. I have always said that this area needs a true whiskey bar or tavern, so I was excited to see the words “seaside tavern” included in the description of the The Citizen restaurant. When you read that, you almost think that the Gorton’s yellow jacket fisherman is going to be the host to greet you as you enter. And I mean that as a compliment. The entrance, albeit lacking a cartoon captain mascot, is a dramatic one. And that’s just the beginning. “The 3 things that I would say define the restaurant are really the first 3 things you see when you walk through the front door,” describes owner Jeremy Walton. “One, a really large and beautiful bar; two, the Raw Bar; and three, the ten-foot wood burning hearth. “We wanted to work to build a really nice bar that serves great food. As to what sets it apart, I think is in large part due to the experience and vibe that the

fers seasonal creations for all to enjoy.” One more I definitely did not want to end with: “Things were better back in my day...” And I won’t because this kind of growth is delicious for our community. See you at the raw bar! Inspired by coastal cuisine from around the world, The Citizen is a seaside tavern located within the town center of Alys Beach. For more information, call (850) 909-0702 or visit Reservations not currently accepted. Kevin Boyle has been a staple of 30-A and South Walton for over 15 years, establishing himself in the community through performing theater, events, professional consulting, and now as a Real Estate Advisor with Engel & Völkers. He lives with his wife, two children, and a dog, all of whom have more authority than he does.

combination of product, service, and design creates. It was definitely the entirety of my focus in working to design it with our team and our creative partners.” I can sense from some of you reading this article wondering why I haven’t mentioned what food or drinks they serve. I apologize for the delay. Highlights of the food menu include the raw bar oysters and ceviche, roasted grouper, house made tagliatelle, and a coconut curry butternut squash soup. If it seems a bit scattered, you’re right. That is exactly the point. “We wanted to be able to draw inspiration from a variety of cuisines but still be rooted in a sense of place,” Walton says. “A lot of time was spent trying to develop the right mix of offerings and to recognize that in a lim- ited number of options people were going to be looking for different things. Striking a balance between comfort and healthier clean options, as well as people who look for more familiar and classical offerings, as well as more innovative options. We worked to not be perceived as a seafood restaurant or a meat centric restaurant.”

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