Great food and hospitality often go hand in hand, and that is definitely the case at Hotel Effie, a luxury hotel in Miramar Beach, Florida. The beautiful 250-room hotel is located in the Sandestin Golf and Beach Resort, between the white-sand beaches and clear blue-green waters of the Gulf Coast and the living shorelines of Choctawhatchee Bay, making it an ideal home base for a Northwest Florida vacation.
From the minute you walk into the hotel, the Southern hospitality envelops you like a warm buttery biscuit. As you check in, you’re offered a complimentary, pre-batched craft cocktail: a Vodka Punch (vodka, elderflower liqueur, vermouth, lemon juice, simple syrup) or Whiskey Punch (bourbon, Madeira, pamplemousse liqueur, lemon juice, simple syrup). And if that wasn’t enough to win you over, Hotel Effie puts out plates of complimentary warm chocolate chip cookies—a signature recipe of the hotel’s namesake, Grandma Effie—in the lobby every day at 5 p.m. They even roll out the (figurative) red carpet for your dog, providing a dog bed, bowl, doggy bags, ball and Oatmeal Cookie dog treats from Crown to Tail for an added fee.
At the hotel, there are four key dining venues curated by James Beard Award-winning chef, Hugh Acheson. There’s Ovide, Hotel Effie’s signature restaurant, which embraces seasonal flavors and local seafood in a globally inspired menu. The restaurant is full of light, with floral ceiling murals and gold, coral and green accents grounded by darker woods and deeper colors. The menu changes throughout the year, with signature dishes including the 63°C farm egg (served on a bed of super crispy rice, collard stem kimchi, peas, spring onion and oyster mushrooms) and raw oysters served on housemade buttermilk crackers that are long and thin so you don’t get salt all over your lips. Newer menu items include a fried okra and heirloom tomato salad with arugula and green goddess dressing, Frogmore Stew (made with shrimp, andouille sausage, corn, leek and tomatoes), and blackberry cobbler (featuring brioche, lime and pecan ice cream).
Rounding out Hotel Effie’s food and drink offerings are Ara Rooftop Pool & Lounge, a stylish rooftop venue with views of the Sandestin Golf and Beach Resort, Choctawhatchee Bay and the Gulf of Mexico serving wine, craft cocktails and bottle service; The Lobby Bar (TLB), a gathering place offering creative libations and signature small plates; and Sweetbay Coffee, a grab-and-go coffee bar.
Executive chef Matthew Krueger works in collaboration with Acheson to ensure their seasonal culinary offerings are up to par. “We both love seasonal ingredients and Southern cuisine, so the collaboration process is pretty seamless,” Krueger said. “I have a lot of freedom to express what I think the hotel needs and what the guests are looking for.” As they continue to fine-tune the menus, Krueger is focused on keeping things seasonal, Southern and approachable to guests—with some delicious twists, of course. The fall 2022 menu, for example, included a bone-in pork chop served with dashi-braised turnips, whipped potatoes, shishito peppers, persimmons and a mirin glaze—a nod to Krueger’s background in Asian cuisine. He’s also looking to highlight the culinary influences of his team. “I want everyone’s influence on the menus because everyone has a different background and a different idea of what food looks like to them,” he said. “Food is a different language for everybody.”