723 Whiskey Bravo Takes Flight
March 18, 2013 by Jill Tanner
723 Whiskey Bravo is a neighborhood gathering spot, bistro, and bar in the heart of Seagrove Beach on Scenic 30A. High standards have been set to make a warm and comfortable place where conversation and good cheer blossom. A place to welcome families and friends, and share excellent food and drinks at the beach.
The sophisticated-yet-casual restaurant and bar is the latest addition to an excellent assortment of restaurants in South Walton. The design, menus, owners, and staff have been received by the community with open arms. The rooftop bar overlooking the Gulf is a favorite spot to share a cocktail, and amazing beach sunsets.
723 Whiskey Bravo has been years in the making and its creation is quite a story. Owners Skip and Victoria Moore were ready to sell their companies in Atlanta in 2009, but had no thoughts of retiring. For years they had discussed what they would do when the time came, and the conversation centered around a special place that brought together their love for food, sports, friends, aviation, and beverages.
They had vacationed in South Walton, along with many beaches on the east coast. But they got a special feeling in SoWal and chose it as their new home.
Skip and Victoria have always been big planners, taking notes over the years on different styles of restaurants, bars, and buildings. They had quite a collection of these notes and kept their eyes peeled for the perfect spot as they settled into their new South Walton home in late 2009.
While out for a run one day, Skip stopped Victoria in front of the old Wheelhouse restaurant in Seagrove Beach. They were both staring at the dangling for sale sign on the burnt building, when Skip said, “723 Whiskey Bravo.”
Victoria looked at him and got chills. They both knew this was their future. They bought the land, including the cottages behind the Wheelhouse in April of 2010, the same week as the BP oil spill. When asked if they had second thoughts when that tragedy stuck, they echoed each other saying, “not a one.”
The tale behind the name is another story. The easy answer is that 7/23 is their anniversary, but there is a little more to it. They purchased a plane back in 2008 and had to pick a tail number. They asked the FAA if 723 Whiskey Bravo was available and it was. Their love for each other and the plane that carries them to and from their respective homes in Atlanta and Seagrove inspired the unique name.
As the building rose and it was time to start the interior, a special bar was to be the centerpiece of the restaurant. It was designed to be a conversation bar and modeled after a vintage Chris Craft boat. Stackable Squires Design Group shared the Moore's vision and brought it to life. The custom bar was handcrafted out of Mahogany by E. F. San Juan, a father-son team out of Panama City Beach who has provided custom millwork for most of the fine homes in South Walton.
After getting their feet under them for about a year, George Barnes was hired as Operations Manager, and Alan Baltazar as Executive Chef. George was the owner and operator of the Smiling Fish Café, a favorite to many. He brought some of the favorite menu items with him, along with some loyal staff.
Alan, on the other hand, watched the building go up and told himself he would be the chef there one day. His premonition was correct. This year Alan saw the open position as an opportunity and jumped at it, and now couldn’t be happier. The team shares the same goals and the determination to succeed. The foundation has been laid for great long-term success.
The SoWal staff joined the 723 Whiskey Bravo team for a private tasting and photo shoot. We started with the famous Crispy Calamari Salad over spring greens, honey-lemon vinaigrette, cilantro-corn sauce and crispy wontons, which come together in an explosion of flavor and texture.
The heirloom tomato and mozzarella stack was my favorite salad, with roasted red peppers, basil dressing, and balsamic vinegar; so fresh.
The biggest hit of group in salads was the Crispy Duck Spinach Salad tossed with sun-dried tomatoes, golden raisins, pecan pieces, blue cheese crumbles, and a balsamic pepper jelly vinaigrette.
The Victoria salad was unlike anything we had ever seen with mixed greens, sliced apples and strawberries, dried cranberries, sliced almonds, goat cheese, and honey-lemon vinaigrette topped with a classic burger! Talk about savory and sweet - it was divine - , but you have to try it to believe it. The Fried Seafood Basket with a choice of grouper, shrimp, oysters, or all three, was fried to perfection. The Hickory Bacon Cheese Burger with a hickory bbq sauce was mouth-watering, and we had to cut it in quarters just to keep it fair.
Chef Alan prepared his signature Local Fish Feature with stewed white beans, bacon, and arugula on the side. The fish was so fresh, it fell apart as we devoured it. The Braised Short Ribs with wild mushroom risotto, and butter-poached carrots came out last.
We savored every bite even though we were about to pop. There wasn’t a dish that disappointed. In fact when we left, we couldn’t stop talking about how great everything was.
723 Whiskey Bravo is on a path to success, with a team of professionals creating food to return for again and again, in a building unlike any other and a view to write home about.