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Chef Josh Smith Marries Personal Style with Tradition at Edward’s in Rosemary Beach

March 19, 2018 by Amanda Lawson

Fans of Edward’s Fine Food and Wine in Rosemary Beach have always loved unique touches like black-and-white movies in the courtyard, the Chef’s Counter, live music, and a farm-fresh menu.

Since taking over the helm from founder and local Chef Ed Reese in October 2017, Chef Josh Smith has worked to capitalize on those traditions while injecting his own style.

“We’ve worked hard to remain true to the philosophy that Edward’s has set forth,” Chef Josh says. “I know Ed personally, and we share a lot of the same ideas and style so it has been easy to implement my own here.”

That means harboring the freshest ingredients possible, including local seafare and vegetables, embracing the restaurant’s Southern influence and capitalizing on an extensive wine menu with guidance from General Manager and Certified Sommelier Kristy Boatwright Johnston.

With about 115 wines on the menu, the selection is extensive, especially considering the restaurant’s size, Johnston said.

“We specialize in having wines that others don’t have, and of course, pairings,” Johnston says. “Whenever we make changes to the menu, the chef and I sit down to decide which wines go with the dishes he creates. We try to introduce different things to people so they can experience choices they may not experience elsewhere.”

“The wine influence on the program here at Edward’s goes hand and hand,” Smith says.

In the fall and winter that meant rich choices that pair well with comfort food like pork shank, lamb ragù on pappardelle pasta, and crispy Brussels sprouts fried in malt vinegar and manchego. In the spring lighter pairings will highlight local pompano and cobia as well as seasonal fruits and vegetables.

In addition to tweaking the menu each season, Smith said, his favorite part of being at the helm after years working in all aspects of the restaurant industry is getting in touch with the locals. The Chef’s Counter at Edward’s, a tradition carried over from founder Reese, makes that part easy. The indoor bar, which promotes a “true open kitchen,” allows patrons to almost get face-to-face with Smith and other members of the team while they prepare dishes.

There’s also seating in the outdoor courtyard, where live music from local favorites like Jim Couch and Ike Bartley is featured (almost) nightly, especially during peak season. When the awning is up, there are also romantic black-and-white movies projected onto the restaurant wall to set the ambiance.

Most patrons prefer to sit outdoors or at the Chef’s Counter, but there’s also the more formal, indoor dining room for those who want a different atmosphere. With white tablecloths and bench seating, there truly is an option for every diner. Regardless of where guests choose to sit, the menu and the wine are exquisite. Favorites that Smith said will always be featured include the Classic Tuna Tartare, the Edward’s Crab Cake, and the Gulf Grouper. There are also wine cocktails created by Johnston for those who want to embrace a creative twist.

There’s the White Wine Moscow Mule with ginger beer, mint, raspberries and wine; the Port of Call, anchored by Ruby Port and mixed with strawberries, simple syrup, lemon juice and soda water; the White Wine Colada; and more.

Edward’s Fine Food and Wine, recently acquired by the Spell Restaurant Group, is open nightly starting at 5 p.m. (closed Mondays). Partner restaurants include Grits & Grind in Seacrest Beach, La Cocina in Seacrest Beach, George’s at Alys Beach, Saltwater Grill in Panama City Beach, and La Crema Tapas & Chocolate in Rosemary Beach.

For more information, visit www.edwards30a.com or call (850) 231-0550. Seating is first come, first served.

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Amanda Lawson's picture

Amanda Lawson

Amanda has been a storyteller for as long as she can remember, and she's earned a living at it since around the turn of the century. A native of Columbus, Ga., she has been all over the world with her U.S. Navy husband, Brent. They are happiest taking family walks with their new daughter, Ruby, and two pups, Turbo and Maddie. Amanda loves a good meal (especially if it finishes with a crème brulee), thrifting, red wine and reading. She holds a journalism degree from Auburn University. 

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