Easter Brunch at Fin&Fork on beach road in Orange Beach.
By John Mullen
March 30, 2018 – Orange Beach, AL (OBA) - The latest restaurant concept from Gulf Coast culinary veteran husband-wife team Matt and Regina Shipp, Fin&Fork, opened March 30 in Orange Beach.
There are new items and some items similar to ones from their former restaurant at Sportsman Marina.
But there was no doubt about the return of a popular house-made dressing.
“We’re going to have some tomato-feta dressing,” Regina said. “That’s one thing Matt said we’re not changing because that’s everybody’s favorite. That’s good stuff.”
After a fire at the Terry Cove restaurant and the sell of that business, the pair recently renovated the old Wintzell’s Restaurant on beach road enclosing the outside bar to create a fun space for a bar and live music. There’s also a large sand play area to entertain the kids.
Fin and Fork Orange Beach“It’s a great place to take a date whether you’re 40 or 80 and you want to hear some great music and dance,” Regina said. “But you can also come and bring your kids in a nice, clean, family-friendly environment with great food. Sort of if you took the Flora-Bama and LuLu’s combined because we don’t feel like there’s anywhere in Orange Beach where you can go out and hear some live music and get some good food.”
She was quite busy on an opening Friday afternoon before Easter and was expecting a full house. Another full house will probably develop on Easter Sunday as well with Fin&Fork’s first brunch.
“It’s going to be a busy weekend I think,” she said. “This is our official opening to the public. I actually have 200 reservations right now and I’m holding at that. We’ll take walk-ins if everything works as it’s supposed to.”
She said the kitchen will strive to find and use items pulled from Gulf waters or grown in Baldwin County dirt.
Fin&Fork“Our title is Fresh Gulf Coast Eats,” she said. “We’re doing all local fish, Gulf Coast fish, everything is sourced locally. We’re doing everything sustainable, everything’s made from scratch in-house. We’re trying to source out everything locally from local fish from local fishermen to local produce to all of that.”
Customers have been speculating if former menu favorites will return. While not exact replicas from the old place, they will find similar flavors.
“There’s a lot of things that are different but there are only so many ways we can cook grouper, there’s only so many ways we can cook oysters,” Regina said. “There’s a lot of similarities, obviously. We’re using the same grade of beef but how many ways can we cook steak? We can put different sauces on it, we can stuff it with different cheeses but a good steak’s a good steak. “Locals’ Favorite” may sound familiar to many previous customers. It is panko encrusted grouper, Gulf shrimp, jumbo lump crab, red onions, mushrooms and a white wine butter sauce.
Another grouper entrée is now called Caribbean Grouper which is seared panko encrusted grouper, coconut shrimp in coconut butter. The tuna entrées will include Yum Yum Tuna with blackened ahi tuna, cucumber salad, house-made yum yum sauce and wasabi mayo. Seared Tuna will be ahi tuna, sesame seeds, soy sauce, mirin, wasabi and ginger.
Snapper choices include two offerings, Crab Stuffed Snapper & Lime Cream which is pan seared panko encrusted red snapper, jumbo lump crab, green onions and a lime hollandaise. The Snapper Diablo is also pan seared panko encrusted red snapper but with prosciutto, red wine, tomatoes, crushed red chilies and angel hair pasta. There are also two mahi mahi offerings as well as coconut crab cakes.
Fin & ForkFor fried offerings, Regina said they are doing something they’ve never tried in their previous ventures.
“We have a whole fried red snapper done in a rice flour,” Regina said. “Unlike traditional Southern fried seafood, it’s very light and crispy.”Fin&Fork will also offer traditional fried dishes with fish, oysters, shrimp and crab claws.
On the steak menu, diners can choose from four filets and a ribeye. Regina said they are bringing back a favorite from the former Pillars Steakhouse location in Mobile.
“We did potato balls at our steakhouse and that’s something no one has seen and they are wonderful,” Regina said. “You take our already great mashed potatoes, you roll ‘em in panko and flash fry them. Then you put a bleu cheese sauce on them.”
The dessert menu is still being developed, but Regina said Fin&Fork is bringing back another recipe from a previous restaurant, white chocolate bread pudding.
Salad offerings include a popular wedge salad as well as salads with seared tuna or fried oysters. You can get the famed tomato-feta dressing on any of them, but don’t look for a bottle to take home.
Regina said for years customers asked if they bottled and sold it to go but every time she tried the bottlers had trouble matching the flavor brought out by roasted garlic used in the recipe.
“They want to use a powdered roasted garlic and you can’t do it,” she said. “Once you take that out of the dressing it totally changes.”
Don’t fret. They’ll have plenty on hand, made from scratch, every time they open.
(Check out Fin&Fork's page on the Orange Beach Community Website.)
Fin and Fork