By Steven Hicks

We’re told life isn’t about the destination, it is about the journey. But if you’ll choose to take it down a notch, get off of Interstate 95 and cruise U.S. 1 to Sebastian, you’ll see real Florida along the way — the boats, waterfront, homes and nature we all love about living in a tropical clime, and a more peaceful pace than even Melbourne offers. Every time I make this drive, my decision to live here is renewed. That’s the journey. In the case of Capt’n Butcher’s Seafood Grill & Bar though, the destination is equally as rewarding. Capt’n Butcher’s is both a seafood restaurant as well as a full-service marina. The trip by boat from Melbourne takes less than an hour, about the same as the drive. Both are equally rewarding. 

On a blistering hot July afternoon, my trip to Capt’n Butcher’s luckily ended indoors at the bar with Terrence Crovo and Michael Brennan, respectively the directors of marketing and operations with Thornado Hospitality, interestingly the same people who own and run River Rocks on the same U.S. 1 in Suntree. I’ll tell you upfront that I am a fan of River Rocks. It is one of our iconic Central Florida spots we take our vacationing friends. It has a great balance of food, location and atmosphere. So hearing from Crovo that I was meeting them at their new place in Sebastian did something for me as it should for you: driving to lunch or dinner in Sebastian isn’t an issue when you know it will be worth the trek.

“We make everything fresh here” 

Brennan says, “We opened as of February 22 of this year, and we’re getting the word out. I can see us growing, especially when the season starts. We make everything fresh here. We hand cut our fish. We hand batter all of our food. So there’s no frozen product coming in that’s already breaded. We’ve got a very talented chef who does specials daily. We’ve got a good mix, everything from light, casual appetizers to enjoy out on the deck or at the bar to nice dinners. You’ll get a wonderful meal, and we’ve got an incredible staff.” 

The signature appetizer would probably be the seared scallops or tuna carpaccio. Again, all made fresh with a great presentation. But don’t underestimate the allure of the buffalo shrimp nachos and a cold beer on the dock bar. “The seafood Oscar is amazing,” Brennan says. “Chef Luke Pollum does a great job with presentation. Even our desserts are made here. You can’t go wrong with our cheesecake or the chocolate torte,” he adds. Chef Pollum overhears us as he hands me that seafood Oscar to photograph. “I was the executive chef in several places in Orlando for about 12 years, but I actually went to culinary school in Louisiana,” Pollum explains. “I’ve lived in all four corners of the country and learned a lot in each place.” 

Sitting by the dock of the bay 

“You can’t go wrong with a nice little afternoon drive to come down and enjoy the deck,” Crovo says. “But it is a little bit different than other restaurants on the water because of our boat traffic. We’re right by Sebastian inlet, at ICW mile marker 65, and as a working, full-service marina, our guests see fishermen come in, unload their fish here and take it across the dock to the packing house where they pack it in ice and load it onto trucks.” Brennan adds, “It’s a great fish market feel. We’ll be buying directly from those fishermen once the permitting is approved. In three years, this will be one of the premier restaurants in Sebastian. It’ll be the place to come by car or boat to enjoy music out on the deck and then enjoy a great, fresh meal.” ◆ 

Capt’n Butcher’s features Prime Rib Night on Wednesday, $10 off bottled wines on Thursday, and Chef’s Specials with $3 Bloody Marys and Mimosas Friday through Sunday.