Ahhh, vacation! I have spent the last couple of days working to ramp my speed down to the pace of the beach. You know, wake up without an alarm, get out of bed when you want to. Stumble down to the beach, eat when you are hungry and pay little or no attention to the clock.
This is never the pace that my life runs at so, it is a true pleasure to slow down.
My eldest daughter’s birthday almost always falls on the week that we vacation so she normally gets the short end of the stick. This year we vowed to do better and she said she wanted to go someplace nice for dinner. I did a bit of research on the web and discovered G Foley’s in Panama City and we opted to give it a try.
Right on 23rd and just past the FSU extension campus, G Foley’s is set in a neighborhood that doesn’t really look like it would house a fine dining establishment.
Once inside, it was easy to see that a lot of thought and effort had gone into the decor. It was carefully coordinated and added a calm ambiance to the place. The lounge was a hopping but was separated from the main dining area so while you are aware of the noise, it is not really distracting. They also have an outside patio for dining but it was just too hot for that in July!
The menu was a single page about the size of a placemat. There was a range of dishes from steaks to seafood and chicken as well as shrimp and grits. Their selections change often so you may want to check the menu online before you go.
Our party of 7 was not used to me insisting on photographing everything so there are a couple of things that got away or like the picture below, got sampled before I could snap.
We chose these chicken lollipops as an appetizer as well as a crab cake. The chicken lollipops are chicken drumsticks with the bones Frenched. They are then wrapped in bacon and served with a strawberry barbecue sauce. The taste was very good but the chicken was cooked a touch too long and was a bit dry. Of course, anything wrapped in bacon is lovely!
The strawberry BBQ sauce was ridonkulous! I could have licked it off the plate and in fact we did all taste it by itself and with later courses so those 8 dollops of sauce did not go to waste.
The crab cakes (no picture, sorry…) were dense with crab and served with a mango salsa and a red pepper coulis. Very nice.
All of the entrees are priced with a salad or soup and a side so we got to try several different things. Below is a picture of the house salad.
It was a mixture of greens, tiny grape tomatoes, candied pecans and chopped strawberries all dressed in a white balsamic dressing. It was beautiful and tasty. One of our other guests also chose a classic Caesar salad minus the anchovies. It was well done; I always appreciate a place that does not over dress a salad.
A couple of us went with the soup and chose the lobster bisque.
Maybe I watch too much Iron Chef, but I couldn’t help thinking that it would have made an excellent ice cream base. Rich cream and sherry made for a decadent soup. It was garnished with a little piece of puff pastry and a dollop of parsley oil. Very tasty but I would have liked a touch more lobster in mine. The flavor was there but there were not any discernible pieces of them in my soup.
The entrees started arriving before many of us had finished with the starters.
My youngest surprised me by ordering the pork loin with gnocchi and greens in an onion cream sauce. She doesn’t even know what gnocchi is and doesn’t eat greens but she inhaled the pork loin. The onion sauce added even more sweetness to the pork and the gnocchi added a lovely smokiness to the dish. My wife and I loved the greens (collard, I think) and they gave a nice bitter balance to the dish. The pork was perfectly cooked, juicy and seasoned wonderfully.
I was really boring and went with a ribeye. It was a beautiful piece of meat that was cooked exactly as I asked. Our server never did bring me a steak knife but it was not an issue as I could have cut it with my fork. It was served with a demi, a classic french sauce. The twist on it was the chipotle spicing which worked very well with the steak, adding a rich butteriness and a hint of hot.
As a side I went with the blue cheese bread pudding, because really, how could I pass that up?
It was really a stuffing style dish laced with sage and blue cheese. It could have been a side or dessert with very little change in the recipe. Yummy!
The birthday girl chose the Chicken G which was a chicken breast stuffed with sun-dried tomatoes, mushrooms and goat cheese. I only got to taste this because by this point I was so full I could barely move. It was sinfully rich and they did not stint on the goat cheese. She also chose gouda infused grits as a side which only added to the over the top character.
We also ordered Shrimp and Grits (again…no picture…so sorry!) and I was surprised that the shrimp were fried. They were coated in a tempura style batter and arrayed artfully in the grits. They got the “very tasty” vote from my wife and middle daughter. It was served with bleu cheese cole slaw which also was over the top.
We were too full to order dessert but I suspect we may come back to try again!
The food was wonderful and really quite reasonable. The tab before tip was $170 for seven people with two appetizers and a couple of glasses of wine. Having the salad or soup included with the meal really makes G Foley’s extremely reasonable for the quality of the food they serve. It would be easy to spend exactly the same money at a chain restaurant and not get anywhere near this quality food and surroundings.
Unfortunately, the service did not quite measure up to the quality of the food. Soup spoons did not arrive with the soup, glasses went unfilled and the appetizer plates were not bussed off of the table until the end of the meal. If they had been extremely busy this might have made sense, but there were several open tables and most of the business seemed to be going on in the lounge. I counted at least three servers and two assistants covering about 20 tables, which would seem to be plenty. Of course, that did let me keep trying that lovely strawberry barbecue sauce.
G Foley’s is very new to the area and it is obvious that the back of the house is run impeccably well. I am willing to let them work out some front of house flaws with food at this quality level. Highly recommended.
3214 W 23rd Street
Panama City, Fl 32405