I’m sure that everyone is familiar with the old and somewhat depressing if true statement that “You can’t ever go back because it’s never the same”. It can apply to your school, hometown, restaurant, a favorite vacation spot, etc.
The good news is that we all can think of one or two fond exceptions to the rule… In this case, Laurie and I returned to a restaurant that we had visited about 17 years earlier…
This is the Owl Café in downtown/old town Apalachicola Florida. Laurie and last dined here back in 2000…and we loved it!
The current iteration of The Owl Café was founded in 1997. The town was a bit sleepy and business was a little slow when we last dined here. Some things do change! The Owl Café now brings in something over $1.3 million in revenue each year and the operation employs a staff of roughly 32 associates…
Our dining destination apparently wasn’t the first Owl Café in Apalachicola though. This undated photo shows a much earlier version which also served as an inn or hotel. FYI…my first photo doesn’t show the building from the front like this one does. The front of today’s Owl Café looks fairly identical to this photo...complete with the owl at the top.
This is an evening view of the Apalachicola Sponge Company Building from the second floor balcony of the Owl Café. As mentioned previously, the Sponge Company structure was built back in 1840.
Although a specific reference to the building occupied by the Owl Café could not be located, I’m sure that it is part of Apalachicola’s Historic District as listed in the National Register of Historic Places. This massive historic district encompasses about 4,600 acres and it contains 652 historic buildings!
This is the 3rd floor dining room and wine bar at the Owl Café. We were the only couple seated in this room. The hostess had promised a window seat when we made the reservations and since the 2nd floor dining area was fully occupied, she seated us upstairs. Another couple was seated in the room about halfway through our meal…
This is part of the second floor dining area. I took this photo after we had our meal and were departing for our hotel…
Some things had definitely changed since our last dining adventure at the Owl Café. For one thing, the only dining room was on the first floor and to the best of our knowledge, not much was happening on the other floors of the building. The first floor is now in the process of being converted to retail space.
The other big change since our last visit was the addition of that huge bar in the third photo above. The full name of the Owl Café has also changed slightly as well. It is now called the Owl Café and Wine Room. Check out the stock of wine in the controlled climate wine ‘cellar’. It is on the third floor near the end of that big bar…
So the real question was…can the food and dining experience we enjoyed 17 years earlier be repeated despite the success and growth of this restaurant?
Following Laurie’s luscious Pomegranate Martini (preceding photo), we ordered the same appetizer that we’d ordered during our visit in 2000. This is the Blue Crab Dip with Tortillas. ($9.00) The crab dip (really a spread) was as we remembered…fabulous! The tortilla chips may well have been flash-fried which made them the perfect accompaniment for the dip. There was so much crab dip that we ended up asking for a few extra chips. Nothing went to waste!
Entrees include homemade bread, a starch, vegetable and a house salad. For $2.50 more, I decided to substitute a side Caesar Salad instead of the house salad. This salad was very nice indeed as was that lovely brown bread with dipping oil…
Laurie opted to have the House Salad with her entrée. Her salad dressing was a very tasty green garlic ranch. The mix of greens was very fresh and she really liked this salad.
Laurie chose the Mahi Mahi Special for her entrée. ($32.00) It was topped with an abundance of fresh crab meat and a terrific sauce. Her sides of fresh vegetables and whipped garlic potatoes complemented her entrée nicely. She loved her meal!
When it was my turn to order, I think that I ordered the same thing that I did 17 years earlier…although the preparation may have been slightly different. This was the Black Grouper Sautéed with roasted garlic, capers and artichoke hearts. ($24.00) My side dishes were identical to Laurie’s. This entrée took me back to our first visit…and it was every bit as enjoyable as it was then!
By the time we’d finished our heap of crab dip with chips, salads, bread and entrees, dessert was almost out of the question. We asked if they had crème brulee…the dessert that we’d enjoyed so many years ago. Our very accomplished waitress told us that they had discontinued it some time ago. With the original unavailable, we chose to split this pretty little caramel custard. ($6.50) It was a fine ending to an evening of fine dining!
Note: At the Owl Café all breads, dressings, sauces and desserts are made in-house.
Our experience demonstrated that just once in a while you can go back and recapture the past… The Owl Café’s cuisine was and is top notch! This restaurant is located at 15 Avenue D in Apalachicola Florida. Phone: 850-653-9888. Website: http://www.owlcafeflorida.com/index.html.
Just click on any of the photos to enlarge them…
Thanks for stopping by for dinner!
Take Care, Big Daddy Dave
You're right about revisits often being a disappointment and glad this one was not.ReplyDelete
I absolutely love old historic towns and buildings, Dave. And it sounds (and looks) as if you and Laurie thoroughly enjoyed your time, and your meals look delicious! Thank you so much for sharing.ReplyDelete
what lovely place, cream brulee is my favorite too but this custard look delicious !!ReplyDelete
I love the bread too. Look good!
Cool name for a restaurant! And the food all looks delicious, esp the crab dip, which I'd like to dig into right now. Glad it was as good as you anticipated! A friend just added a small wine room to their home, I don't get it, probably because I'm not into wine. :-) Have a great rest of the week, Dave!ReplyDelete