You’re standing in front of an audience of 150 mostly European foodies in a barbecue cook-off competition on an island in the middle of the English Channel when you are told that your main ingredient …
Celebrating Seafood Month at Guy’s Beachside Bar and Grill in Islamorada
By Sue Cocking, Guy Harvey Outpost staff writer
You could say that every month is “Seafood Month” at Guy’s Beachside Bar and Grill at the Islander, a Guy Harvey Outpost in Islamorada. Sure, you can still get a burger, or steak or chicken anytime. But the fresh local fruits from the sea prepared in every imaginable, delectable way generally rule the table — especially with October’s opening of stone crab harvest season.
Executive chef Andy Niedenthal favors Mediterranean/Floribean cuisine and loves to mix and match flavors and textures, surprising and delighting guests with an ever-changing menu that includes fruits and vegetables from Homestead and fish from the Keys.
“Nothing is set,” the veteran five-star chef said. “Whatever piques our interest and we try to do something unique with it. I’ll go in and say, ‘today, we’re going to play with this hogfish, tripletail, whatever’s fresh that day.’ When it’s gone, we do something else.”
Take stone crabs: most people eat them fresh, cracked and chilled with a side of mustard dipping sauce. And you can get them that way at Guy’s. But in Niedenthal’s creative cuisine, the crab’s knuckle meat is used as a stuffing in fish; or in a pot pie; or to top a salad. And lobster and shrimp aren’t just for scampi or po’ boys. For lunch, the chef may prepare a bratwurst, mixing the shellfish with spices and stuffing it into a sausage casing served on a bun with a side of fennel slaw.
One of Niedenthal’s signature dishes is snapper ceviche (see recipe below). Fresh and light, it tastes as good as it looks and has appeared on many a patron’s Facebook wall.
The purveyor of all this fine cuisine has been at it a long time all around Florida and the Caribbean.
A 1988 graduate of the International Culinary Arts Institute in Baltimore, Niedenthal spent his career cooking for, or running fine restaurants in Islamorada, Miami Beach, Savannah, Puerto Rico, and the Virgin Islands. He’s been executive chef at the Islander since 2012 and oversaw the re-launch of the resort’s restaurant as Guy’s Beachside Bar and Grill. He also supervises the Bonefish Flats breakfast restaurant and the catering operation at the conference center — scene of many weddings and corporate meetings.
“We serve very upscale food in a very casual atmosphere,” Niedenthal said. “You can get a five-star meal while dining out at the beach or at the pool.”
Now here’s how you can try this at home:
Chef Andy’s Snapper Ceviche:
1.25-pound cleaned fillet
juice of six sour oranges
one red onion; one red pepper; one green pepper; one yellow pepper; one tomato all diced very finely
4 cloves blanched garlic
1 bunch of cilantro with leaves picked
1 bunch of scallions, bias cut
1 bunch of chives, finely chopped
drizzle of chili oil
drizzle of Key lime oil
four fried tortilla strips, julienned
salt and pepper to taste
four small scoops of orange sorbet
Thinly slice the fish into two pieces against the grain on the bias and place on four plates in a five-point star. Season with salt and pepper. Divide sour orange juice over all four plates and cover the fish completely. Cover each plate with plastic wrap and press out the air so the fish is covered completely by the juice. Refrigerate for about an hour.
To blanch the garlic, thinly slice the cloves on a mandolin, or v-slicer and place in a cup of very hot water. Let stand for five minutes, then drain and refrigerate.
Remove the plastic from the plates of fish and pour off half of the juice. Wipe the rim of each plate. Distribute the vegetables, garlic and cilantro equally on the four plates, making a confetti-like appearance. Drizzle with Key lime and chili oils.
Place a scoop of sorbet in the center of each plate and garnish with tortilla crisps.
Sue Cocking chronicles the Guy Harvey Outpost travel and adventure experience in regular blog posts on GuyHarveyOutpostNews.com/. For 21 years, Cocking covered the full spectrum of outdoors adventure opportunities in South Florida and beyond for the Miami Herald, including fishing, diving, hunting, paddling camping, sailing and powerboat racing. She is a certified scuba diver and holder of an IGFA women’s world fly fishing record for a 29-pound permit.