Photo | sunsetpointefairhope.com

Sunset Pointe in Fairhope is perfect for when you want that special meal — and a perfect sunset to go along with it.

Sunset Pointe
831 N. Section St.
Fairhope 36532
251-990-7766

Sometimes you need a little something special. Not necessarily a celebration destination or a party spot, but rather a lunch or dinner that is a tad more than what your usual may be.

You’ll know it when you feel it. It’s an internal pull that steers the vehicle away from the same old Chinese buffet or Mexican order-by-number you had last week. Last Sunday found me conducting some business in the Colony of Fairhope with the family in tow when “the pull” tightened its grip.

Fairhope has all the charm of a Southern novel, with its downtown shopping and vibrant waterfront stretching all the way to Point Clear. There’s no shortage of restaurants in this little town, but you won’t find all of your options available for Sunday lunch/brunch. No matter. One of the area’s best is open and inviting, in the form of Sunset Pointe.

Formerly Fly Creek Café at the Fly Creek Marina, Sunset Pointe is arguably the best sunset on the Eastern Shore. This vision-brought-to-life by our own “Panini Pete” Blohme is really his way of opening up the throttle and showing us what he has under the hood.

The celeb we call our own has been on more Food Network shows than anyone I know, traveled with the Mess Lords feeding our servicemen and women, and is generally a larger-than-life personality on our local food scene, with restaurants in Fairhope, Mobile and on the Causeway. Of all these places, for my money, it’s at Sunset Pointe where he shines brightest.

I don’t want to label this as a “something for everyone” restaurant, but for Katie, Lucas, Graham and myself it has everything we need. On a beautiful afternoon dining al fresco, surrounded by sailboats and a few umbrellas to shade us from the pesky sunshine, the only thing I needed was a drink and some really good food. They delivered.

Photo | sunsetpointefairhope.com

Often thought of as offering a tapas menu, there are plenty of big plates to fill you up, but we wanted to start small with Gulf Coast BBQ Shrimp ($15), as Graham ordered an awesome lemonade, Lucas his first Arnold Palmer, Katie an unsweet tea and a rosé for dear old dad.

The shrimp were well executed, of good size, butterflied with a tomato broth. A hint of lemon brightened the dish, which was served similar to New Orleans style with crusty bread for dipping. With a half dozen or so shrimp, this didn’t come across as a small plate and could easily serve as an entrée for one.

Lucas chimed in and ordered an appetizer for the table — like the big brother he is — with Grouper “Bights” ($9). A play on words for a shallow bay, these “bights” were fried chunks of grouper presented with a drizzle of rémoulade. I was a big fan of the shrimp and hated to admit the grouper was giving them a run for the money.

Since Lucas was kind enough to share his appetizer, he was correct in assuming it was OK to order another. He doubled down on the grouper with Gulf Fish Wraps ($8). This time the fried grouper and rémoulade came on flour tortillas with lemon aioli and grilled slaw for a fresh fish taco feel.

Graham isn’t really a burger guy, but today the 8-year-old showed his wolf fangs and ordered the Kid’s Burger ($7). A man who knows what he wants, the smallest at the table boldly altered the order by adding cheese and striking the tomatoes. When the brioche bun came, he powered through it like I’ve never seen. It’s laughable to call it a kid plate knowing it would’ve been big enough for me. Supplemented with sweet potato chips, my little fella was destined for a food nap on the ride home.

Katie ordered the Rick Bragg’s Ode to Grouper Sandwich ($15.75) and I was beginning to think I was stuck in Grouperville. Now we had it in sandwich form with lettuce and tomato on brioche. She promptly removed her tomato, which Graham and I ate (why he ordered his burger specifically without tomato is a mystery) and we finished off the fried grouper offerings of an otherwise diverse menu.

Snapper Throats ($19) were definitely a Sunday lunch must. I ordered mine fried after waffling back and forth between that or grilled, but didn’t regret a thing. For the uninitiated, you must know that the snapper throat is an incredible piece of meat. I rarely order filet of anything, always believing bonier is better. Snapper throats are the perfect amount of meat versus the labor of removing the bone. Two whopping triangular pieces were tender yet crunchy. I barely finished one and the rest of the family helped me finish the other.

With the same grilled slaw I mentioned earlier, fresh and loaded with red and yellow bell pepper, red onion and, if I recall correctly, a little cilantro, the dish was for the most part light. Then I made my way to the skillet potatoes and couldn’t keep from dipping them into the sauce from the barbecue shrimp.

I will say we had a wonderful afternoon soaking in a little vitamin D, taking in the serenity the water affords and enjoying each other’s company rather than burying our noses in multiple plates from some buffet or any place with a cartoon on the sign.

Sunset Pointe is definitely a step up. We had great, prompt service and the food was stellar. I can imagine dinner would be even better.

Next time you get that internal pull, put this one on your short list of across-the-bay hotspots. It’s not the cheapest lunch out there, but it’s worth it. We treat it as a special day, but our special days are about to get more expensive. Poor Katie must feel so outnumbered, but we just found out she’s going to be a little more outnumbered by the end of September. Here’s where I hint about a raise ….