The Grand Marlin
As many great stories begin, the tale of The Grand Marlin in Pensacola Beach and Panama City Beach, FL begins with a fishing trip and the search for Atlantic Blue Marlin in the acclaimed North Drop near St. Thomas.
The Grand Marlin story begins with a group of friends on a boat in search of Atlantic blue marlin in the acclaimed North Drop fishing ground north of St. Thomas. The blue marlin is known as the strongest sport fish pound-for-pound, and the people on board were ready for the thrill of it all. They were sportsmen and businessmen, and they loved the laidback Caribbean lifestyle, adventure, and great food and drink. From their quest and conversations along the way, an idea was born– a way to take the feeling and the food home with them. From that trip came the concept for The Grand Marlin. In 2010 they took the beauty of Pensacola Beach and Santa Rosa Sound, injected it with the easy Caribbean lifestyle, added great food with an emphasis on fresh and local seafood, and captured it all in a stunning facility. The concept was so successful that in 2016 they opened a second location at the Lighthouse Marina on Grand Lagoon in Panama City Beach.
President and Partner Bryan Housley had a strong background in the restaurant industry with over 25 years’ experience in the competitive Atlanta market before setting out with Corporate Chef and Partner Gregg McCarthy to realize the dream that is The Grand Marlin. McCarthy explains,
“We set out to offer the freshest fish on the Gulf Coast. Fish in season is always the freshest, so we concentrate on our local seafood when it is in season, but also feature such delicacies as wild Alaskan salmon or halibut from the northern Atlantic when they are in season.”
Oysters are front and center on the appetizer menu – The Grand Marlin boasts the most varied and best-stocked oyster bar in the vicinity, with the finest specimens from Apalachicola and East Bay along with more exotic offerings from other areas, all shucked to order.
The Market Fish portion of the menu presents the day’s specials, four to six preparations featuring the very freshest seafood along with the chef’s choice of sauces and accompaniments that highlight local offerings. “We try to let the fish be the fish – our sauces are designed to enhance the flavor of the fish, not to mask it.” Says McCarthy. We try to move beyond frying everything, although we certainly do have some fried seafood items, and offer more grilled, sautéed, and roasted entrees that show off the freshness and flavor of the fish itself,” he says. “On our regular menu, the perennial favorite, hands down, is the Grouper Piccata. I tried – very briefly – to rotate it off the menu a couple of years ago. There was uproar from our patrons, so it is back on the menu to stay!”
The Grand Marlin, as seafood-centric as it seems, also offers some outstanding meat items, such as steaks from the prestigious 1855 Black Angus Beef brand, and Beeler’s Pure Pork from a family farm in Iowa. “The Beeler’s are humane farmers, and raise only the best Red Duroc pigs, naturally and without antibiotics,” says McCarthy. “I’ve visited them. They are not only great farmers but really nice people too.”
McCarthy came to The Grand Marlin at its inception ten years ago with a culinary education at the CIA and a wealth of experience in great kitchens including the Old Ebbitt Grill in Washington DC, and Ray’s on the River and Murphy’s in Atlanta. His varied experience taught him that it is, in fact, possible to do a high volume of business without sacrificing the high quality of food or the ambiance that comes with professional service.
In addition to its commitment to great food and service, The Grand Marlin offers an extensive and varied wine list and an imaginative cocktail menu. The cocktail menu features about a dozen specialty martinis and an equal number of “Island Cocktails” that reflect the Caribbean roots and nautical theme. There’s also the house beer, the North Drop Ale. The Grand Marlin offers private dining options for parties of 20 to 100, and rental of the entire restaurant and bar for groups of up to 400 guests. Their calendar is chock full of special events, live music, and holiday menus. “The Grand Marlin is the fulfillment of our dream – to operate casual, comfortable, top-notch restaurants on the Gulf, serving the finest seafood,” says Partner and President Bryan Housley.
The Grand Marlin – Pensacola
400 Pensacola Beach Blvd
Pensacola Beach, FL 3256
The Grand Marlin – Panama City Beach
5323 N Lagoon Dr
Panama City Beach, FL 32408