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By John Mullen
Sept. 8, 2017 - Orange Beach (OBA) – Ida Blake is not afraid to step into any role where she’s needed at Live Bait in Orange Beach.
She’ll wash dishes, sweep floors and drive the shuttle bringing customers to and from the back parking lot when there’s a big crowd for dinner. She’s worked for the restaurant for six years, which is fast becoming a favorite family dining and entertainment destination.
But she’s mostly known and needed for her cooking skills, particularly bread pudding, house-made sauces and dressings, and her delicious gumbo.
“Four days straight this summer I made 28 quarts of gumbo a day,” a smiling Blake said. “Whatever I need to do, I do.”
When she gets behind the wheel of the shuttle, she’s checking out how Live Bait is doing from the diner’s perspective.
“If I’m driving the cart in the afternoon on the weekends, I’m asking ‘how was your dinner?’” Blake said. “How was your service? What’d you have? Tell me about it. So, I’m getting feedback from customers that way.”
Live Bait bread puddingIt seems the bread pudding plays pretty well.
“I make it as needed, sometimes every day,” Blake said. “My son’s a server on the floor here and he’ll tell ‘em ‘my momma made this.’ And he’ll make me come out and talk to people if I’m here.
“The difference in ours is it has blueberries and white chocolate in it. It’s not like grandma’s bread pudding. And I liked grandma’s bread pudding. Then you put Myers dark rum sauce on it.”
The staff wants everything coming out of the kitchen to be at its best, says aptly named chef Geremie Fresh.
“Consistently good food, fresh food,” Chef Fresh said. “Every time. We want them to have a good time and enjoy the best food on the island where there are so many choices. And leaving with a good experience. There’s so much to do here with the tiki bar, riding the bull shark in the back. Just an overall family experience.”
Fresh says seafood and hand-cut ribeyes are the focus of the menu and prime rib is offered after 4 p.m. Fresh Gulf fish includes cobia, grouper, red fish, and snapper, depending on what’s freshest that day.
“We cut our ribeyes in half every morning,” Blake said. “They’re pretty, I have to admit. They’re one of my favorites.”
And there are plenty fresh takes on a variety of dishes available at Live Bait. Blake likes it when a customer’s eyes a unique twist on a dish and gives it a try.
Live Bait gumbo“We have our shrimp and gouda stone-ground grits,” she said. “It’s a little different from what they expect,” Blake said. “I’ve had people who don’t like grits try ‘em and love ‘em because they’re a different kind of grits.
“I like them to come in and say ‘that sounds interesting. I’m gonna try that.’ Our fried gator bites are new with our bang bang sauce on it and they are popular. It’s a little spicy, but not too spicy.”
The Greek seafood nachos appetizer is also turning heads. It comes with shrimp and crawfish mounded on house-fried wontons, topped with red onions, Kalamata olives, banana peppers, tomatoes and a spinach and artichoke cheese sauce.
“If people ask me what I like I say Greek nachos,” Blake said. “I love our Greek nachos. We have one size that will feed four or five people and one that will feed one or two.”
For lunch, Live Bait offers a daily meat-and-three special that includes a drink and dessert for $10.
Catering is available in the club behind the main restaurant for Mardi Gras krewes, wedding receptions, private parties and other special events.
The entertainment value has been expanded with the talents of Brandon Styles who does two shows, magic for the younger crowd and impersonations for a more adult crowd. Check with Live Bait for Styles’ show times.
“He does a magic show, mainly for kids,” General Manager Jay Bradley said. “The second one is the impersonation show for adults. He does 60 impersonations in 60 minutes. He even does Elton John and Michael Jackson. He’s really amazing.
“We do a little something different than most restaurants in Orange Beach. We do have karaoke, we do have entertainment and I don’t know if anybody else has the entertainment value.”
Some resident gators from a nearby wetland like the entertainment, too, while also providing a wildlife show for guests.
“They love the karaoke,” Fresh said. “It’s amazing how they come out at night when there’s karaoke.”
For sports fans, at Live Bait, you can watch your favorite college and pro teams and the restaurant has the NFL Sunday Ticket. For more information on Live Bait, visit our restaurant listings