Meal Type: A La Carte
Price: $300 CAD (Tip Included)
I was in Panama City Beach recently for a family event and looked up the best restaurant in town. That’s how I found Firefly, a casual fine dining restaurant located within walking distance to the beach. This restaurant is a great date location and also features a sushi bar and menu. I was there with family and we all made sure to order different items on the menu so I could make sure to experience as much of it as possible.
Appetizers / Soups
Hummus Plate ($14.60)
Chickpea Hummus, Whipped Feta, Marinated Olives, Pickled Onion, Sumac, Sesame, Naan Bread and Raw vegetables.
Why has nobody ever thought to put feta cheese into hummus? I’ve eaten a lot of hummus in my life, as has the rest of my family but we all agreed that this was the best hummus dish we had ever had. The pickled onions were especially well received as they added a sourness that the dish was lacking. That being said, the feta cheese was slightly overpowering — to the point that you couldn’t taste the hummus or any of the other ingredients in your bite. This would turn-off a lot of people but personally, I LOVE FETA. I love feta so much that even knowing the cheese was overpowering everything else, I still enjoyed this dish. Also just a note, there was a lot of olive oil in the dish but that’s to be expected. Figured I would note it for those that are conscious about that stuff.
Crab and Tuna Tower ($17.20)
Jumbo Lump Crab, Spicy Ahi Tuna, Avocado, Jalapeno, Mango and Cucumbers.
The presentation was great but I thought the sauce could definitely have been much better centered, or maybe it was the tower itself that was off-center. Either way, it definitely detracted from the overall visual factor. The tuna was FANTASTIC, but that’s kind of to be expected. I don’t think I’ve ever had ahi tuna that I didn’t like. The mango sauce and the cucumbers added a sweetness that I don’t think the dish necessarily needed and it did dull the spiciness of the tuna as well as the jalapeno, but it was still a nice contrast. As for the avocado, I wouldn’t have even known it was there if it wasn’t on the menu. If I was to ever return to Firefly, this is a dish I would not order again.
Miso Soup ($6.61)
Tofu, Green Onions and Seaweed.
Looked like the plate had been halfway dropped but the wait-staff had saved it. When half the soup is on the edges of the plate instead of in the bowl, what are you even trying to present? I was super disappointed in not just the way it looked, but also the taste — completely unappetizing. If possible, skip this one if you go.
She Crab Soup ($11.91)
Puff Pasty, Crème Sherry.
Every review I saw on yelp about this dish screamed that it was the best thing on the menu and spoiler alert, this was 100% true. The creaminess of the soup with the contrast of the crispiness of the puff pasty was beautiful and to be perfectly honest, I would fly down back to Florida specifically to eat this soup again. The soup was thick, creamy, and extremely satisfying. At $12, it’s definitely on the expensive side but it was worth every penny. A great starter to your meal as it gets you excited about what this restaurant is capable of.
Brown Butter Seared Scallops ($47.63)
Carrots, Arugula, Red Onions, Chilled Shrimp and Clams.
The sauce is where the carrots were and tasted nothing like them. The scallops were done great, if not a bit too well done. Personally, I like that when it comes to scallops so I was not too bothered by it. Visually the dish looked great, and the salad was extremely light. The shrimp and clams in the salad were good but the star of the dish were definitely the scallops and it shows.
Shrimp and Summer Vegetable Pasta ($38.37)
Gulf Shrimp, Summer Squash, Sun-Dried Tomatoes, Artichoke Hearts, Spinach, Capers, Goat Cheese, Shellfish Butter, Campanelle.
One of the highlights of the meal was the pasta. It’s handmade in house and it really does show, the pasta looked and tasted SO fresh. The shellfish butter was a great addition and just added to the shrimp’s fantastic flavor. It coated and clung to the pasta exactly how it should have and definitely elevated the dish for me from just OK to something I would order again.
Wild Caught Salmon ($42.33)
Red Potatoes, Grape Tomatoes, Button Mushrooms, Spinach, Sherry Butter, Salsa Fresca.
This dish looked absolutely stunning. Everything was the right proportions, with the right amount of sauce and garnish. To top it all off, it was probably my favorite main of the night. The salmon was absolutely beautifully done, completely rich and moist in the middle when so many places tend to dry it out. I wouldn’t necessarily travel down to Florida for this dish but coming back for the She Crab Soup, I would definitely get this as the main with it. The salmon was a great color, a good portion size and everything complimented the salmon exquisitely. I honestly can’t say enough good things about this.
Cold Water Lobster Tails ($60.86)
Potato Puree, Seasonal Vegetables, Drawn Butter and Lemon.
Being the most expensive dish on the menu at $61, I honestly had really high hopes for this dish. Unfortunately, it did not meet those expectations. It seems you’re paying a premium for it being lobster and while the dish itself was good, I’ve seen lobster be done better for less. I would have also expected better plating for something that costs that much as I was also disappointed in it visually. All in all, it’s a good dish that is burned by its price tag.
Cheesecake with a Berry Sauce ($11.91)
The portion size is much too big for something that should potentially be for only 1 person. Even with 5 people, we had trouble finishing it. That being said, it tasted fantastic and was great for topping off the night. Of the 2 desserts ordered, the table enjoyed this the most.
Seasonal Bread Pudding ($10.58)
This was made fresh to order and it showed. The ice cream was very basic vanilla ice cream, tasted like something from the grocery store. The bread pudding itself was fantastic! It had chocolate chips in it and combined with the different textures that bread pudding gets depending on what part you’re eating, it really added to the whole enjoyment. Family were not big fans of this but I thought it was fantastic, better than the cheesecake.
To sum up, I had a pleasant meal at Firefly and would come back if given the opportunity. It definitely deserves the title of best fine dining restaurant in Panama City Beach and while there were some hiccups, I would still recommend it to tourists that go down to Florida. I didn’t comment on the décor or the service as it was irrelevant to my enjoyment of the restaurant. Nothing detracted or added to what I thought of the place.
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