Coast Cuisine - October 2021
- by Lisa Monti, photos by Kerry Maloney
A couple of things stand out about the new Starfish Café location on Highway 603. First, the dining room is much larger than the one in the cottage on Main Street where the nonprofit operated until COVID’s challenges brought about its closure.
The freshly painted new space is filled with art and signage and what-nots, some from the old Café, some new, creating a comfortable, familiar feel. Diners can see a bit of what’s going on the kitchen through a large window on the back wall; the kitchen is also much larger.
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Then there’s the menu, again a little familiar but with tasty new slants on Starfish’s trademark fresh, healthy offerings.
Big Greek flavors shine in appetizers, salad and pasta with Balsamic vinegar, salty feta cheese and Kalamata olives. Oh my.
And in their new, sunshine-filled dining room, our late-lunch dishes seemed even more colorful and Instagram-worthy.
At any rate, Starfish is back, after the challenges of the pandemic and the inevitable setbacks during any renovation process – and fans of the nonprofit Café couldn’t be happier. The same goes for Starfish founders Di Fillhart and chef Zac Fillhart and everyone involved with relocating the Café, renovating the old Cuz’s location and fine-tuning the menu and operations over the last several months.
The new menu, which carries the tagline “Wellness for a Lifetime,” changes weekly with fresh, local ingredients. Start with Appeteasers such as roasted broccoli or parmesan asparagus. You can go Greek with warm pita, or the Ultimate Greek appetizer of spanokapita, tyropita, hummus, tzatziki and keftedes served with warm pitas.
Salads, hefty but healthy, feature blackened chicken salad and American Greek with house-made vinaigrette.
Under the Main Events selections, pick from a Black Rice Bowl, Blackened Tuna Tacos, the Asian Ancient Grain Bowl or Greek Pasta.
“Yeeros” are another nod to Chef Zac’s Greek kitchen experience. All-day entrees include chicken and seafood, and Honestly Beef Burgers are available on Fridays.
Kids can get a taste of Greece, too, with Pitzas (hand stretched pita with sauce and cheese) or chicken nuggets.
For our lunch, the salad and pasta were both generous and full of flavor. The salad was topped with peaches, combining salty Greek flavors with a bit of sweet stone fruit. The pasta was a hearty combination of spinach, artichoke hearts, cherry tomatoes, red peppers and feta.
Every dish is made to order; that part of the Starfish Café experience hasn’t changed. The service is still top-notch, and the tab fits our local market (with donations to the nonprofit’s training program happily accepted).
“We continue to honor our commitment to fresh foods that nourish both body and soul,” Di says.
Starfish Café is the well-known outreach program of PNEUMA Winds of Hope, Inc., a non-profit incorporated in 1998. Job training has been expanded to include OTJ training for teens ages 16-18. Plans include implementing the Mary Kay Deen Community Education Center in the fall while continuing to develop a mobile food pantry with The Kings Kitchen to take food to outlying areas of Hancock County.
The Fillharts are also helping to spearhead Hurricane Ida relief in devastated areas of south Louisiana.
“We are all settled in at our wonderful new home,” says Di. “We look forward to hosting our loyal regulars and introducing lots of new guests to our delicious flavors of healthy meals.”
Starfish is open 11 am – 7 pm on Thursday and 11 am – 8 pm on Friday and Saturday. The Café is closed the week of Oct. 4 and will celebrate its opening with a Hancock Chamber of Commerce ribbon-cutting on Thursday, Oct. 14 at noon.
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