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Crushing on Crush

Posted on Jul 01, 2014 in Crush , Restaurant , food , July-August 2014

Crush’s perfectly seared ahi tuna makes for an elegant meal. Photo by Susan Benton

Nestled among the shops of Seaside on Scenic Highway 30A, you will find the irresistible and charming bistro called Crush. The restaurant quickly rose to the top as a hot spot for dining when opening its doors back in 2010. With a welcoming and friendly staff to greet patrons, this hip yet intimate wine bar and restaurant has it all.

At the helm of the space is the fearless leader and ambassador of Crush, Shelby Altamura, who branded the restaurant and has been with Crush since its inception. She is originally from Birmingham, but grew up in Panama City and is married to local restaurateur, owner of Harbor Restaurant Group and Crush, James Altamura. Both live nearby in Grayton Beach.

Recently, Crush took on a new certified sommelier, Karen Granger, who moved to the area with her family from Ohio. Shelby Altamura was thrilled to bring her on board. “She knows wine and can express that in teaching our staff,” Altamura says. “They can wrap their heads around the wines, notes and flavor profiles and in turn share that knowledge with customers. I feel so blessed to have her at Crush.”

With a background in hospitality management and customer service, Altamura takes a laser sharp focus to the service provided to diners at Crush. She especially enjoys working behind the bar, getting to know locals and tourists in order to build lasting relationships, and is training her staff to do the same. Manager Chris Wallace has been with Crush since opening in 2010. “He is a huge plus, and so great with our guests,” Altamura says.

Chef Aaron Strickland, who formerly held positions at other noteworthy South Walton restaurants, revamped the menu for the summer, getting rave reviews. “He manages to make spectacular food in our very small kitchen,” Altamura says, citing Aarons Mac & Cheese on the dinner menu, “a real challenge through the heat of summer and cold of winter.”

Crush’s famous crab cakes are a perfect summer dish. Photo by Susan Benton

Enjoy favorites by land or sea, with popular choices being the classic lump crab cake, burger, or the blackened shrimp tacos with jicama slaw. A new lunch menu item is the Beach Club sandwich with ham, turkey, fresh house crafted pulled mozzarella and marinated artichokes piled high on a Kaiser bun.

For dinner, customers are raving about the seared ahi tuna and the caprese salad, as well as the hanger steak, lemon-thyme chicken, blackened grouper and perfectly prepared four-ounce lobster tail.

Crush offers lunch and dinner, as well as small plates made for sharing, fresh sushi, a daily cheese board, 24 wines by the glass and nearly 100 bottles of wine with exciting wine flights. Happy hour is from 4-6 p.m. daily. Linger late in the day while enjoying half-price wine by the glass, draft and bottle beer, wine based cocktails and delectable sushi.

Choose seating inside or dine outside under the covered sidewalk space, reminiscent of a European café.

It helped Crush Wine Bar get selected as Best Outdoor Dining by VisitSouth.com.

For more information on Crush, call (850) 468-0763, or visit their website at www.crush30a.com.

Susan Benton is the owner of 30AEATS.com and partner of GulfCoastRestaurants.com where she shares her passion for food and travel, and her commitment to promoting local farmers, fisherman, chefs, artisans and restaurants along the Gulf Coast.