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“What a Find - Best Seafood Buffet in Florida”

Blue Water Bay Restaurant
Ranked #1 of 7 Restaurants in Melrose
Certificate of Excellence
Dining options: Breakfast, Reservations
Restaurant details
Dining options: Breakfast, Reservations
Reviewed July 12, 2010

First and foremost - I am a FOODIE, a native of the great foodie city of Chicago, and resident of Florida for 23+ years who has sample fare in fine establishments in all 4 major Florida cities as well as many in our Southwest, Midwest and Northeast. To date the truely memorable buffets were the Waiohi in Kauaii, HI (leveled by a hurricane many years ago) and the Pfister Hotel in Milwaukee, WI. I was surprised to find a seafood buffet with quality to match those two in a very quiet town about 50 miles south of Jacksonville, 20 miles East of Gainesville and 30 miles north of Ocala in north central Florida. The other two may have had more selections of red meat, breakfast and desserts, but seafood selections and quality at the Blue Water Bay are at least equal to those two. Not to mention the warm hospitality of the staff, offered to my wife and myself this time by Kim Levenson, a long-time Pennsylvannia transplant, as well was a great atmoshphere surrounded by local artwork. Kim's attentiveness was superb and I remind all reading this that a great server can make a great buffet experience one worth remembering for a long time, desrving of a healthy gratuity. When we ordered a glass of $4 Riesling each, she suggested a $10 full bottle, extremely reasonable at well under 150% of retail. Now for the main event: the buffet. When you look at the online website, you see only a very small sampling to the buffet. The Greek and Calamari salads were excellent, but the hearts of palm was the standout. I am doing my best by memory, there was a smoked side of salmon and large peel and eat shrimp steamed just enough to be very firm and fresh and I have had on any buffet anywhere, chilled steamed white and green asparagus spears. Main entrees included large fresh shrimp delicately fried in a light dredge, spicey skewered "Tiki" shrimp, spicey chicken, jambalaya, shells stuffed with ricotta, steamed mussels, BBQ ribs & BBQ brisket, and some of the best stuffed crabs I have ever had (very light and loaded with crab - not the typical dense stuffing heavily spiced). They offer four or five different cakes and fresh fruit for desserts, but I highly recommend that you consider the Sour Orange Pie - way more decadent than should be legal with a chocolate crust on chocolate solid shell topping. With that buffet at only $23.95, we walked away with a bill of only $66, including taxes, about half the bill I paid many years ago at both aforementioned houses of buffet worship. WE like to visit Ocala, Gainesville & Micanopy and will be back VERY soon! They also have a catering service. Can you spell WEDDING??

    • Value
    • Atmosphere
    • Service
    • Food
1  Thank fastman83
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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153 - 155 of 155 reviews

Reviewed June 26, 2009

Returning to St. Augustine from a week in Gainesville, we stopped here for lunch. Thinking we were going into a small-town diner, we were surprised to see real tablecloths, and almost wondered if we were dressed too casually. A welcoming staff member assured us we were dressed "just fine." We were seated, ordered coffee, and a fresh pot was made for us.

This is a seafood restaurant, but since we live on the coast and get plenty of that, we decided to order something a bit different. My wife ordered the grilled porkchops over rice and mango slaw, and I ordered the ground sirloin and french fries. Both meals were prepared to absolute perfection. The ground sirloin came with a mushroom and onion sautee in a red wine reduction, and was absolutely full of flavor. The pork chops were moist, tender, and complemented by a rice pilaf that set them off perfectly. When a mistake was made on my order, it was corrected cheerfully and immediately -- the first time in recent years I've seen that!

The meal having been so good, we had dessert -- a slice of sour orange pie and a serving of the chocolate kaluha bombe. Absolutely delicious. Anyong traveling between Gainesville and the East Coast of Florida should take time to get a meal here. Food and service are both excellent. There is an attached bar, which has additional dinner seating, and a family-friendly atmosphere -- not to mention a 12-foot long gator hide mounted on the wall!

    • Value
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Thank Florida_advice
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed August 13, 2008

Best place, excuse me, only place to go (besides Chippinis) in town. HUGE portions, enough to feed a small country. Good fish. We love French Night. Coctails are excellent. Byron, the owner chef, is a warm and wonderful charachter and this place reflects that warmth and casual friendliness. The cajun eggroll jammie things rock.

2  Thank JackieTripper
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

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