Big Easy Elegance: Hitting the Right Note at Pescado and Its Courtyard - 30A

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Big Easy Elegance: Hitting the Right Note at Pescado and Its Courtyard

By: Carrie Honaker | Posted Aug 10, 2023

It’s hard not to be drawn in by the lively music spilling out of The Courtyard. Any given night promises fantastic entertainment paired with inventive cocktails and a Big Easy vibe. Plus it’s a great place to layover while waiting on a table upstairs at Pescado.

Touches of New Orleans broadcast throughout the space and word on the street is it’s inspired by Last Call Restaurant Group’s Joe Freer’s wife, Jess. According to Holly Wright, Pescado Operations General Manager and Events Director, Joe wanted to dedicate one of his restaurants to his wife and her roots. Over the bar hangs a painting by Jess’ mom, Cynthia Porte. The vintage trolley car and tropical foliage bring you right to the French Quarter. 

It doesn’t stop there. Traditional Belle Epoque absinthe vessels are available for anybody who wants to pour into the liquor’s history and its ties to New Orleans. Weathered arches and twinkling chandeliers call to the storied hotels of the Crescent City. And then there’s the music.

“We like to offer different styles of music throughout the week so guests can come back and not see the same artist playing every night. But the real treat is our piano players—they are the best around.

We did a lot of research and settled on Nathan Fife, who plays Tuesdays, Saturdays, and Sundays, and provides the entertainment factor for The Courtyard. People walking by hear him playing and are drawn in by the show he puts on,” says Wright. “We also love Jamah Terry, who has been with us since opening. He sings and plays saxophone and piano, a unique combination. He brings that New Orleans vibe.”



Tatiana Rotari says grace over Pescado’s upstairs and downstairs bar venues and she prides herself on building a team that consistently delivers delicious cocktails. Her menus represent a collaboration between herself and her bartenders. She tasks them with building a cocktail that they think would be perfect and then she tastes them, making sure they’re all balanced and fit Pescado and The Courtyard’s concepts. She picks six to eight that then go onto the menu. The Restoration (recipe below) continues to make the list even though they change it up seasonally. “Tatiana leaves no room for error. She wants consistency in the restaurant, no matter who is manning the bar—whether she makes the cocktail or any other bartender makes it, the taste is the same,” adds Wright.

But the real magic at Pescado and The Courtyard lies in the service. When Jess Freer comes in, the bartender doesn’t even ask, a glass of rosé immediately appears at the bar. It is that attention to detail, knowing what guests love, that notches the service wow factor up.

“We expect all of our team to be WSET Level One trained (entry sommelier certification). There are online and in-person courses available and even our youngest staffers are partaking. Two of our under-21 servers just went to Texas for a supervised course that is legal because of the educational purpose. Once you pass, we reimburse you for the cost of the course,” says Wright. “We want everybody across the team to have foundational wine knowledge, and this course gives basic information about profiles and varietals in the red, white, and rosé categories. Right now this is available for all front-of-house staff, but we soon will be rolling out to our kitchen staff as well to complement our new chef’s extensive background in wine-driven menus.”

This is important because the servers are the pairing menu. No slip of paper accompanies the dinner menu, they want servers to interact with the guest, and help them find that perfect bite, glass, or cocktail that elevates their experience. Wright elaborated, “Every guest wants something different and we want to cater to that. We train and teach our servers to make sure it feels like an individual experience rather than it being a piece of paper they have to navigate themselves.”

When you exit the elevator and see that 360-degree panoramic Gulf view—the only one in Rosemary Beach—it doesn’t feel like a stuffy fine dining restaurant. It feels relaxed. No white tablecloths or servers with black coats interrupt the experience, but there is impeccable service, the freshest seafood, and a seat where you can watch the sunset no matter what time of the year you come in.

Reservations are available, an anomaly on 30A. They also have an offsite concierge team that runs reservations as well. If you are unable to make something online, call the reservations team (850.213.4600) and they can help you from 9 a.m. until 8 p.m. If you can’t reach somebody, leave a voicemail and someone will get back to you first thing in the morning. Again, with that high-end, personalized service.



Stay tuned for what they have in store with their new chef, John Engle, who brings a wealth of experience and a deep love of wine. I’m betting on more wine dinners and some pretty awesome pairing menus. Until then, there’s still jazzy music pulsing out of The Courtyard, a 360-degree view of the blazing Gulf sunsets upstairs at Pescado, and ninja-like service for dining and imbibing on both levels.

The team at Pescado has revealed the formula for their crowd-pleasing cocktail, “Restoration”:

Ingredients

1.5 oz Castle& Key “Roots of Ruin”

0.75 oz Fresh Squeezed Lime Juice

0.75 oz Rose Syrup

1-2 Slices of Cucumber 

1-2 Leaves of Basil

Instructions

  • In a shaker, muddle cucumber then add the rest of the ingredients (except basil) and ice. 
  • Briefly shake then strain into a double old-fashioned glass over regular ice. 
  • Garnish with a cucumber slice.

To learn more, visit The Courtyard at Pescado and follow them on Facebook.

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Carrie Honaker is a Florida-based freelance writer who is not sure where she will land next, but it will involve messy eating, a spicy Tempranillo, and finding the local dive bar. Her work has been featured in Wine Enthusiast, Bon Appetit, and others. You can find her on Twitter and Instagram @writeonhonaker.

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