It’s been a while since we have eaten somewhere worthy of a review.* But then we got to Brunswick…
Indigo Coastal Shanty looks the part (except it isn’t indigo**). It’s not necessarily a place one would go without a recommendation (as we had). But then again there’s some detailing to the external decor, and a full parking lot in a part of town where the economy has the sidewalks rolled up most of the time… The paint job and the parking lot say peek inside at least.
Bam! You peek inside and five things hit you. Clean, Bright, Energetic, Aromatic, and Welcoming. Our reservation message had gotten garbled. No problem. We were instantly offered large glasses of cold water and they hustled to find us a place.
Indoor seating is around 32-36 — school chairs and Formica tables. A tile floor and construction block walls reverberate everything. If noise is a problem for you, bring ear plugs, you won’t want to miss the food. Outdoors is undoubtedly quieter, but it was too warm for that yesterday.
The wait staff was friendly, efficient and knowledgeable. The wine list was short and our selection excellent. It was a Canyon Oaks Chard served at the right temperature and generously poured. This is a basic table wine. It’s variable from year to year, and this vintage was good. The bouquet is fragrant and delicate — notes of pear and lemon complemented by citrus and a touch of nuttiness on the palate. It had a creamy texture amplified by being at the right temperature. It was a perfect accompaniment for our meal.
The appetizers looked appetizing, but when we saw “sides” included fried okra, we decided to split an order for our starter. What a start. Obviously cut and breaded on site, it was hot (and served in a heat retaining soup cup), devoid of lingering cooking fat, savory and garnished with parsley. Frankly one could easily make a meal of side dishes here and be happy. This was A+ okra.
We’d eaten lightly since breakfast, and we’d walked from the boat (15 minutes in 90° heat). We were hungry.
Janet chose the “special” Pork Chop with Picadillo, Slaw, and Black Beans and Brown Rice. I chose the Fisherman’s Bowl — upgrading it from tilapia to atlantic salmon.
The Pork chops had been dry rubbed with a Cuban melange of spices (referred to as “Latin” on the menu board) not including vinegar. They were tender, properly done, and generously portioned. They were also buried under an attractive pile of Picadillo ingredients, though not a sauce per se. This meant each bite was a differing riff on picadillo component flavors, rather than a repetitive sampling of sauce. Bueno! The “Slaw” was was also an attractive pile of several types of cabbage shredded coarsely and graced with enough dressing to be taste-filled but not sloppy. The black beans and brown rice also were well flavored with a distinctively Cuban blend. For my eye I would have preferred yellow rice. The flavor wouldn’t have been much different, and it would have brightened the plate and signaled Caribbean. A+
My Fisherman’s Bowl was a wine saute of salmon and locally harvested shrimp with a tomato and fennel broth that had been slightly thickened with couscous and garnished with feta. How was the broth? I asked for an additional piece of Ciabatta to wipe the large serving bowl clean. This was perhaps the best seafood stew I have had. The salmon was cooked medium. The shrimp were sweet and cooked to perfection. The tomatoes didn’t overwhelm. There were enough for color and flavor and enough was enough. The fennel was sitting right on that peak between over and under-cooked. If I had prepared this (and I will give it a shot), I would have used Israeli couscous for the larger pearls and a more authoritarian feta — but then I like feta more than most people. This was one of those dishes it was just enjoyable to sit there and savor the aroma for a while. Another A+
We finished off with Mango Sorbet graced with candied pineapple (and just a grace, thank you). Like the wine, it was perfect with our entree choices, and we still had to walk back to the boat.
Indigo Coastal Shanty is a place to alter travel plans for — The people, the food, the ambiance embrace you and make you feel welcome.
*We did eat at Cafe Margaux in Cocoa again, but the review would have been a recap, the outstanding quality of the experience is unchanged.
Photograph by James Bitler
**Although the Asian variety was considered by some to be finer, planters in South Carolina, Georgia, and Florida cultivated the New World variety extensively, perhaps due to similar climate. I. suffruticosa still grows wild on the north end of Georgia’s Ossabaw Island at North End Plantation, the site of a colonial-era indigo plantation.
By 1755 the Carolina colony alone was exporting around 200,000 pounds of indigo annually; Georgia was just beginning to export indigo, with 4,500 pounds exported that year. Georgia’s indigo exportation reached its peak in 1770, with more than 22,000 pounds.
At the onset of the Revolutionary War, however, England withdrew the bounty on indigo. This, combined with competition from indigo plantations in Central America and Spanish Florida that could harvest five to six crops a year, compared with Georgia and Carolina’s two or three crops annually, caused colonial American indigo production to collapse.
The New Georgia Encyclopedia