The Vue on 30A - It's Polite to Stare When You Eat
My wife and daughter Grace (the Tiny Diner) ate at The Vue on 30A in Santa Rosa Beach early on a weekend evening. I had called ahead for reservations in case a 20-month-old, however well behaved, might not be accommodated.
I was told she would be welcome, and a high chair was provided for her. The TD lived up to her parents’ expectations and behaved herself, even thanking the waiter for his assistance in repeatedly retrieving dropped forks (she’s learning utensil skills, mostly spearing bread). To John the waiter from Baltimore, we thank you for your patient attentiveness.
The view at The Vue is not confined to the great outdoors, though it’s hard to beat the simple beauty of the Gulf at sunset, and the pale, near-empty beach. The restaurant boasts an outdoor patio/ dining area overlooking the beach, a main dining room with a wide window view of the beach, and a bar/lounge with a somewhat more distanced view of the beach. The interior design is Coastal Art Deco—dramatic contrasts of black, olive and white, with starkly beautiful frosted glass chandeliers. TD had to divide her staring time between the window and overhead.
The menu offers appetizers, salads, and main courses, with nightly specials that are recited by the server. There’s a good balance between land and sea, and some less frequently found items as well.
We decided to split a starter of snails (escargot). My wife had never tried them, and the preparation at The Vue was not the usual garlic/olive oil/butter sauce. The snails (eight in all) were sautéed with caramelized onions in a port and boursin cream sauce, then served on puff pastry. Much as I like snails with garlic and butter, they can be a little rich as a starter, especially since it takes lots of bread to mop up the sauce. The Vue’s version is actually lighter, and the sweetness of the sauce paired perfectly with the chewy, but tender snails. It’s an ingenious and thoughtful presentation.
Other apps include crab cakes, shrimp cocktail, shrimp and crab spring roll, tempura portobello fries, lobster trilogy (cocktail, wontons and Newburgh), tuna tartare, fried oysters, foie gras on French toast baguette, and a soup of the day. Whatever you get, save room for the bread, served sliced, hot and crusty with herbed olive oil. The TD loved it, though at this point she prefers it plain.
An alternative to appetizers might be one of the six salads—iceberg wedge with prosciutto, pear tomatoes and blue cheese dressing, a deconstructed Caesar, mixed greens with fried goat cheese, watermelon arugula salad with lemon vinaigrette, fresh mozzarella with tomatoes, and Boston bibb with Stilton cheese.
The Vue offered 12 menu entrees that night, plus specials of steaks, lemon snapper and red snapper. I was tempted by both of the snappers, but I was craving big, fat pan-seared scallops, and The Vue has them. I ordered them, with risotto, crisp applewood smoked bacon and asparagus in a mango beurre blanc. My wife ordered the 8-ounce filet mignon (there’s also a 12-ounce), with homemade steak fries, sautéed spinach and a red wine demi-glace.
The scallops arrived, a perfect shade of crisp brown on top and bottom, and just barely cooked through inside. There were four large ones, a generous amount of scallop, especially with the creamy soft risotto. The bacon and asparagus looked almost as good as they tasted, and bits of mango livened up the beurre blanc.
My wife’s filet was cooked as ordered, and came sitting on a plank bed of thick but crisp fries, with a mound of spinach on top of the meat. I had a bite, and figured The Vue might have found a way to get people to eat their spinach. I know I did.
Other entrees that evening were pistachio crusted grouper, fish of the day (the snappers), fruits de mer (in this case shrimp, fish, mussels, scallops and half a lobster tail) over tomato-basil risotto, tempura shrimp, crawfish Monica (with gouda alfredo sauce), rack of lamb, veal Milanese, steak of the week, pork chop with creamy grits and smoked apple demi-glace sauce, and a vegetarian plate of roasted eggplant, sautéed spinach, portobello mushroom, grilled tomatoes and asparagus.
Desserts that night were a chocolate trilogy, a key lime pie, and tiramisu cheesecake. We got the latter. It had the density and richness of cheesecake (including an Oreo cookie crust), with the lighter coffee and cocoa character of tiramisu. One was plenty to share, especially since TD was full.
Summer is officially over and restaurants with views of the water are now a whole lot easier to negotiate. This is good news for local diners, especially ones who visit The Vue on 30A. Wherever you sit, you’ll get a view, and an excellent meal, at The Vue.