Executive Chef James Balster says each restaurant is different.
“In choosing the menus for each restaurant we have a lot of fun. While looking at various items from the local and seasonal market, as a team, we come together and play with ideas that will fit each restaurant. We will run them as specials and see what our guests think. As this happens they get more and more refined and turn into the final product.”
Located in the heart of the winding GSP trails is Woodside. While separate from the other two restaurants in the delicious trifecta, it still is an ultimate-crowd pleaser. Leo Zaldivar, Food and Beverage Director for the group, says that when it comes to Woodside, “the restaurant was created to cater to the always on-the-go crowd.”
When Zaldivar started his tenure, his main mission was to make the restaurant more family-friendly.
“Think about it, you have all of these trails where families bring their entire crews out–pets included–and it takes some time to finish. I wanted to gear the restaurant towards family crowds. In doing so, we increased the menu size, practicality, and ease of service. If you have only done half of the trail and want a quick bite to eat, we introduced handheld wraps for example.”
Woodside also caters to local drink connoisseurs.
“We introduced a happy hour featuring certain drinks you can only get during happy hour rather than a 50 percent off cocktail you can get any time you come. We want quick, easy, and delicious service.”
Coming up, Woodside is getting ready to prepare its outdoor patio for the upcoming season.
“While I don’t want to say what it is yet, I can assure you it will be amazing.”
Located downstairs at the Gulf State Lodge is Foodcraft. The four-year-old restaurant has already become a staple for many thanks to its delicious brunch buffet overlooking the white sandy beaches complete with echoing blue waves.
Kevin Roberts, Foodcraft’s manager, says, “I grew up coming here, and when I got older, I moved. It did not hurt that the water would soon be in my backyard.”
While it has become a staple for some, Roberts says, “while we are popular with the crowd who knows what we do, we still consider Foodcraft to be a hidden gem for many. Looking ahead, we would like to change that.”
To make the change, Roberts says everyone is prioritizing the overall experience.
“We are located right on the beach, so it is easy for us to shift gears. When you come to Foodcraft, we want to showcase the best of the Gulf of Mexico. While you eat, we don’t want you looking at pictures on the walls, we want you to come for the experience.”
Rocco Romanelli, Perch manager, states, “Perch is fancy food with a casual feel.”
Located upstairs at the Gulf State Lodge above Foodcraft sits Perch, a semi-upscale restaurant priding itself on adventurous foods designed in a specific way to elevate each individual flavor.
“We have gone in many different directions with Perch recently, but now we are ready to solidify the plans that were supposed to happen one year after opening–conveniently around that time in 2020.”
Perch has gone from a small menu to a large menu, back to small, and now is heading towards a full-length restaurant menu. With two chefs combining different cooking flairs–Chef Balster is a fan of French cuisine while Executive Sous Chef Brad Gilstrap is a fan of Louisiana and its big flavors–Perch’s menu is a fun mesh of flavor and style.
Romanelli says, “we want our guests to have great meals consisting of fresh food in a nice restaurant.”
Foodcraft's Gulf Of Mojito
- 2 Ounces Sugar Island Rum
- 1/2 Ounce Real Ginger Syrup
- 1 Ounce Pineapple Juice
- 4-6 Mint Leaves
- 1/2 Ounce Coco Real
- 1/2 Ounce Blue Curacao
- 2 Lime Wedges
Muddle mint, lime, ginger syrup, and Coco Real syrup in a shaker. Add Sugar Island Rum, pineapple juice, and ice. Shake vigorously and pour into brandy sniffer. Top off with ice, club soda, and Blue Curacao if wanting a floater. Garnish with a mint sprig and enjoy!