There is something mystical about Downtown Gulfport. It’s the lights that dangle from the trees lining the main strip and the families out and about together browsing the local art. There are frequent flashback moments where you almost believe you’ve stepped into another era, one of a simpler time. This feeling is what constantly brings me back to this little slice of nostalgia and what led me to the Backfin Blue Cafe.
Talk about a home away from home, this cafe is run in a 1920’s cottage and loaded with tons of old-Florida charm. The outside seating is one giant porch and with the Fall weather creeping in, this is where I chose to sit. From the comfort of the porch I could hear the Motown band playing old favorites next door at the Peninsula Inn like, “I can’t help myself” (sugar pie, honey bunch, you know the song) as I sat back comfortably to browse the menu.
Backfin Blue is known for their blue crab cakes made by owner, Harold Russell who has been a chef for more than 20 years and the former chef at Shula's Steak House in Tampa.
I just wasn’t feeling seafood this night so I kept scrolling. Bacon-wrapped, basil-stuffed shrimp was next, man oh man, and then homemade meatloaf with a gorgonzola cheese center, whoa. I kept going though and finally landed on the wild mushroom ravioli which was stuffed with portobello, shitake and crimini mushrooms with grana padano (fancy cheese) in a light butter sauce.
It was perfect at only $12 and each entree comes with one side and a giant salad that would be fit as a side in itself. I chose the garlic mashed potatoes, which were just like mother makes and opted to order a loaf of their molasses bread for an extra $1.50 which is bought from a Bradenton baker.
Most of the Backfin Blue entrees range from $12 to $18 with a lot of seafood options. They have an extensive wine list but a much smaller beer choice ( I was hoping for some sort of pumpkin ale since it is the season). My choice was delicious and fresh, which made me feel like I had just eaten something healthy for once! For this reason also I passed on dessert but if you so choose to partake, they are only $3.50 each and are provided by local bakers as well with options such as key lime pie, cheesecake and chocolate suicide cake with cocoa pudding.
I topped it off with a cup of coffee (which the waitress kindly did not charge me for) and ended the bill with a whopping $13.50, which considering the atmosphere is a complete steal!
By chance, I happened to wander downtown that night during one of their monthly art walks which happen every first Friday and third Saturday of the month. Local vendors, artist and mystics set up their booths to display their goods (and not so goods) while families stroll up and down the sidewalks. Take part on one of these nights or any night for that matter in the quaint town of Gulfport!