hunt’s oyster bar in panama city.

As mentioned in my last post, I joined Chris on his business trip to Panama City last weekend!  The plan was to go from Thursday night to Saturday night, but because of Hurricane Irene, our flights home kept getting canceled… so we ended up being stuck until early Monday morning!  Not a bad situation.  :)  We were truly so thankful for the extended getaway, and really enjoyed ourselves!

We looked at restaurant reviews going into the trip, and one place stood out FAR above the rest: Hunt’s Oyster Bar & Seafood Restaurant.  Check out Yelp and TripAdvisor, and you’ll see… we almost felt like we’d regret it if we didn’t try it out!

I wish I had taken a picture of the place when we walked up to it, around 8pm on Friday night.  There were probably 20 people waiting outside for their names to be called.  Most of them had a beer in hand, and there was a loud college football team argument going on among strangers.  In fact, it was hard to tell who was in what friend group!  Everyone seemed to be having the time of their life, even as they were waiting to go in.  It was a ROWDY scene.

Chris and I got called in after about a half hour, and sat at the bar.  It was so much fun!  We only ate oysters… 3 dozen of them between us, to be exact!  (Actually, the exact number might have even been a few more, since they threw in some extra!)  The oysters were SO fresh and amazing.  We ordered raw oysters, steamed oysters, cajun-baked oysters, and three cheese jalapeño oysters.  We could not stop eating the oysters!

Here are some pictures of the progression:

Oysters #1

Oysters #2

Oysters #3

Oysters #4 (The Aftermath)

Not only were the oysters incredible, but the wait staff was great… very attentive and fast.  The spirit of the restaurant was so lively!  Everyone was having a fun night.  This place was simply a laid-back and no nonsense gem of a restaurant.  We’ll definitely be back next time we’re in Panama City!

america eats tavern!

Last Saturday, Chris, two friends, and I had the opportunity to check out America Eats Tavern, a new pop-up restaurant by Chef José Andrés.  I could not contain my excitement!  We showed up for brunch right when the restaurant opened up, and easily got a table.  The place was definitely pretty packed when we left, so I’m glad we got there early!

Ceiling of America Eats Tavern

America Eats is replacing the space where Café Atlántico used to be.  The famous and apparently amazing Minibar, which is usually upstairs, is currently undergoing renovation.  America Eats closes in January, and Café Atlántico actually will move to a different location… so I wonder what will happen with the space next year!  There is definitely a lot happening.

Anyway, America Eats Tavern is exploring a new and innovative approach to classic American dishes from different time periods throughout history… many of which have been lost over time.  The restaurant goes along with the National Archives exhibit, “What’s Cooking, Uncle Sam?”  We didn’t go to the exhibit this time around, but we’re planning to go soon with a bigger group and return to the restaurant around that as well. Since there were four of us, and we are all adventurous in trying new foods, I have many photos to share!  Here is the delicious Blackberry Butter that came with the bread basket we ordered.

Blackberry Butter

We tried two cocktails among the four of us.  I don’t remember the name of the one on the left, but as you can see, it was a sparkling and lighter drink.  The cocktail on the right is the Ramos Gin Fizz, made with gin, egg whites, citrus, cream, and orange flower water!  You could taste every single one of those ingredients in perfect harmony.  The fizz on the top was very solid, and barely moved as the drink quickly disappeared.  The Ramos Gin Fizz was developed by Henry C. Ramos in New Orleans in 1888.  Amazing!

Two Brunch Cocktails (Ramos Gin Fizz, on right)

Here are all of our entrées…

Maine Lobster Roll, John D. Rockefeller, Mount Desert Island, Maine, 1910

Shrimp 'n' Anson Mills Grits with a Fried Egg, Jamestown, 1607

Waffles with Blackberry Butter & Vermont Maple Syrup, James Hemings, Monticello, 1796

Hangtown Fry, Hangtown, California, 1849

I tried a little bit of Chris’ lobster roll, and it was pretty good.  He said it wasn’t his favorite roll he’s ever had, but he liked how the mayo and lobster were separated in the sandwich.  The other boys enjoyed their dishes a lot, though comments of the portions being a little small were made.  I absolutely LOVED The Hangfry!  It was packed with flavor, and I felt the joy that the gold miners must have felt when they struck it rich in California and then bought this particular dish to celebrate.  It was the perfect amount of oyster taste, and everything I could want in a glamorous brunch entrée.

We then ordered two desserts and two teas.  I tried a little of everything, and the desserts were incredible!  The Key Lime Pie was apparently made from fresh key limes… something most restaurants don’t use, for some reason.  The Vermont Sugar On Snow really showed off the amazing Vermont syrup, and the flowers added a unique twist to the dessert. Chris and I enjoyed our teas, though they tasted pretty standard to us.

Dandelion Tea

Balsamic Hyperion Tea (the tea people drank after the Boston Tea Party)

Key Lime Pie

Vermont Sugar On Snow

What a fun and different brunch experience!  Reading the menu in and of itself was a learning experience… there are little blurbs about the history behind each item.  Now I want to spend some time reading the menu online before I go back!  I am so excited to return to America Eats, and hope to get there for a few more meals before January.  The restaurant definitely made us proud to be Americans!  :)