By Susan L Wright
No one is going to accidentally discover Malcolm's Bar and Grill by just passing by on the way somewhere else. It's not exactly out in the country, it's set in LPGA International.
Still, it takes a conscious decision to make the effort to get there. But it is very much worth the effort.
The setting is peaceful, green (golf course green, naturally), with picture windows on two sides to take full advantage of the scenic view -- and a terrace overlooking the man-made lake to one side. The décor is sophisticated and casual, with an elegant granite topped curved bar in the front, casual seating for those just stopping for a drink and an elegant dining area.
All of which is very nice, but what makes Malcolm's really worth the drive is the quality of the food.
The young chef, Devin Gainor, is a graduate of the Culinary Institute of America and manages to work quite a bit of creativity into the clubhouse format ... which means amid the burgers and salads, there are a few surprises, such as the ahi tuna tacos and garlic truffle fries, bison chili and a pineapple rum cheesecake.
The food is presented with flair -- a feast for the eyes as well as the taste buds. The signature salad involves a hefty pile of candied walnuts, crumbled gorgonzola, mandarin orange slices, grape tomatoes, dried cranberries, with other seasonal berries (the day we were there it was thinly sliced strawberries,) sliced onions, topped with a wedge of blackened chicken breast.
Appetizers are listed as "shared plates," and diners will be tempted to share the tastes try the tuna tini served in a small martini glass, it includes lightly seared ahi tuna sliced and set on bed of wakame seaweed salad, flavored with a hoisin drizzle and pickled ginger.
Other small plates for sharing are less exotic -- the trio of angus sliders with caramelized onions, American cheese and smoked ketchup for instance. Those who aren't in the mood to try the elegant garlic truffle fries (cooked in truffle oil no actual truffles involved can opt for the thin cut potato or sweet potato fries.
On my visit with a friend, we were offered a sampling of the sharing plates that would have made an ample meal all by themselves (the tuna tini was very elegant, we split one slider between us and it was scrumptious, the wings were wonderful and the choice of sauces included both the standards -- buffalo, barbeque, teriyaki -- and a couple of piquant new tastes -- sour cherry was tempting. It was just a little too much for me to finish after the very hearty appetizers, but there was plenty left to take home to make another meal later.
After that the signature salad was fresh, with plenty of fresh tastes, the blackened chicken was perfectly spicy. My friend chose the crab sandwich, which looked plump and sumptuous and came with a hefty side of fresh slaw. She said it was as tasty as it looked.
As full as we were we still had to try the desserts and shared the servings of warm peach cobbler a la mode and the pineapple rum cheesecake, which as I've already mentioned was worth the trip all by itself.
The dinner menu adds more main meal items ranging from the standard, homey American fare (with a twist) to more creative dishes and there's something special every evening ranging from $2 tacos ,and $2 Coronas on Tuesdays to a Friday night prime rib slab with mashed potato bar (add your choice of extras to the mash - cheddar or blue cheese, bacon, chives, jalapenos) to Sunday's fun day with hand rolled sushi bar.
The daily happy hour from 3-7 p.m. features domestic drafts, $3 premium well drinks and $4 house wine
The special that operations director Ben Deininger is most proud of is the Farm to Fork weekly menu, composed of dishes made entirely from produce from a local farm. Ben explains the menu is inspired by the seasonal, fresh local produce provided by local Green Flamingo Farms in Oak Hill.
Malcolm's is decorated with black and white photographs of early beach scenes, including a large mural covering one wall of the bar area featuring the early cars on the beach. Which is appropriate since the restaurant is named for one of the area's early racing pioneers, Sir Malcolm Campbell, who made several attempts to break the 300 mph record on the beach at Daytona, racing five different Bluebirds on the hard-packed sands.
Malcolm's Bar & Grill is at 1000 Champions Drive, Daytona Beach. Hours are 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. seven days a week. For information or reservations, call (386) 523-2088 or visit lpgainternational.com.