723 Whiskey Bravo opened its doors about a year ago, and now itís embarking on a new course.
Initially opening as a multi-level sports bar restaurant, the establishment has a new chef, menu, and has embarked on a new path under new direction.
Now known as 723 Whiskey Bravo Bistro & Bar, George Barnes, former owner of the successful Smiling Fish Cafe in Gulf Place has come onboard to lead the restaurant as director of operations.
One of Barnes' first orders of business was to hire a new executive chef. That chef is Alan Baltazar, formerly with Cuvee Bistro in Destin.
Barnes said the conversation with the restaurant's owners, Skip and Victoria Moore, started three months ago with a plan to increase the restaurant's efficiency.
Although at Smiling Fish Barnes could usually be found in the kitchen, he said at Whiskey Bravo, it's a culinary collaboration.
"I interviewed three or four potential candidates for the job, and I thought Alan's experience, passion, and youth brought a quality and energy that couldn't be matched," said Barnes. "He is very talented. He was a customer of mine at Smiling Fish, and we will work together to define a vision of the menu."
What patrons will find on the Whiskey Bravo menu will be some of Smiling Fish's most popular dishes, some of Baltazar's favorites, some of Whiskey Bravo's signatures, as well as some new ones. As far as the new duo touting a signature dish, Barnes said, "Everything is a signature dish and a star, or we wouldn't put it on the menu."
Moore is bringing back her Victoria Salad, and her fried mac and cheese, which she said were popular.
Joining those will be Baltazar's applewood smoked bacon caramel popcorn for the bar, braised beef shortribs, and his featured fish of the day.
Barnes will be offering his crispy duck spinach salad, fried grouper taco, and calamari salad ó just to name a few.
"It is bigger and more contemporary than Smiling Fish with a great location. It will feel a little dressier, like putting on a new coat or shoes," said Barnes of his new-found home.
Barnes said the name tweaking of the restaurant will help passersby better know what to expect to find inside, and reflects the management's commitment to serving dishes prepared with the freshest local ingredients and presenting them in their purest form.
"It will be coastal bistro with more fish. We just moved from a sports bar theme into a casual creative bistro. And the price point will be comfortable for locals," he said.
New carpet, wine cooler, staff and uniforms, as well as a new dinner menu have also been added.
"We did a redo to take the restaurant up a couple of levels," said Moore. "We hit a home run with George's expertise of 20 years, his following and Alan's. It is going to be a cool coastal experience. Skip and I have been listening."
Following a soft opening for locals Feb. 8, the restaurant officially re-opened Feb. 11.
"I'm very excited," said Moore.
The restaurant is open every day except Sunday. Lunch is served Monday through Saturday from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., and dinner from 5 to 9:30 p.m. The bar is open from 3 to 5 p.m. Happy hour is from 5 to 6 p.m. with 25 percent off bar menu items.