Outsiders: Laurie and Keith Farlow
Farlow's on the Water
Dining may not seem like an obvious outside activity. But when you dine outside along the water, and enjoy seafood caught right off the coast, you’re eating like an Outsider. Farlow’s on the Water combines outside seating with locally-sourced ingredients to create a dining experience Outsiders of all kinds will love.
Owners Keith and Laurie Farlow spoke to us about what makes dining at their restaurant unlike anything else.
What makes Farlow’s on the Water different from other restaurants?
Laurie: We are a Caribbean cuisine restaurant with a southern twist. We pride ourselves on bringing fresh local seafood into our environment and serving it to our customers. People like the atmosphere we offer. We have both inside and outside dining, and people really like the outside seating. During the day it’s bright and sunny, and at night it’s a great place for a peaceful evening on the water. We’re located on Ainger Creek so we have a lot of native wildlife living right here for customers to see.
Keith: Being that we’re right off of Charlotte Harbor, we’re connected to one of the most important estuaries in the state – the second largest in Florida. So we have a lot of turtles, manatees, sawfish, and snook come back here. And we love to invite our guests to sit outside or walk the boardwalk to see all the incredible wildlife and plant life surrounding the restaurant.
Tell us a little more about this commitment to serving fresh seafood.
Keith: At Farlow’s we strive to serve dishes that utilize sustainable seafood because preserving the natural environment and these species of fish is very important to us. But as I’m sure you know, the seasons for different types of fish change throughout the year. So in order to ensure we’re getting the types of fish we want, we follow the migration of the species. For example, we get a lot of our fish from the Caribbean and have it flown in fresh daily. This way we’re able to provide exactly what we want to our guests. However, we still get a lot of our seafood from the Gulf of Mexico, and this means our menu is always changing and offering something new depending on what’s in season.
We’ve seen this fish cart going around the restaurant. What made you want to parade the catch of the day in front of everyone?
Keith: At Farlow’s we proudly serve locally sourced fish caught right here in the Gulf and the surrounding waters. The fish cart was something we introduced about ten years ago. It not only allowed us to show off the quality of the fresh fish we serve in our restaurants, but also helps us educate our customers on what they’re eating. We think it’s important our customers know more about the food they’re eating, what it looks like before it reaches their plate, and where it comes from.
Laurie: From the kids to the adults, everyone loves seeing the fish cart. They oooo and ahhh over it, so it’s really fun.
Keith: And we buy whole fresh fish, not frozen fillets. This allows us to maintain the high level of quality we require from all our ingredients, and enables us to serve some unique dishes you won’t find anywhere else.
Speaking of food you can’t find anywhere else, with Keith growing up in the Saint Croix Virgin Islands and Laurie hailing from Kentucky, how do those two different cultures influence the food at Farlow’s?
Keith: So, while I grew up in Saint Croix, I traveled all over the Caribbean as a competitive swimmer, and I got to stay with families in the different places I visited. Staying with locals allowed me to sample a lot of different types of authentic food, and I started falling in love with the flavors of the Caribbean as a whole. For example, I discovered my love for Dominican food while traveling through the Caribbean. I love Puerto Rican food. But then you go down to Trinidad and the food is completely different. The curries are really in place there. So at Farlow’s, I’m trying to represent flavors of all the different islands of the Caribbean, not just Saint Croix. You’re going to find a lot of Trinidadian and especially a lot of Puerto Rican influence in our cuisine. But then when I met my beautiful wife Laurie, I discovered I love Kentucky cuisine as well.
Laurie: So having grown up in Kentucky, when we decided to open the restaurant, we knew we wanted to meld these Caribbean recipes with a southern twist. But what does that mean? For us it meant featuring classic southern dishes alongside tropical seafood recipes. For example, I grew up always having corn pudding, and now it’s one of our biggest selling side dishes here. People love it, it reminds them of home, or they’re trying it for the first time and falling in love with it immediately. Another one is fried green tomatoes. A lot of people have heard of them, but not too many have tried them. And along with Kentucky bourbon chicken, we’ve included some southern staples on the menu since we first opened. These are dishes iconic to Kentucky, but they meld really well with what we offer on the seafood side of things. And customers are always pleasantly surprised to experience how well everything comes together and compliments each other.
Finally, how would you describe the atmosphere at Farlow’s on the Water?
Laurie: I’d say it’s like going back to “Old Florida.” Yes we’re laidback and casual, but we pride ourselves on serving great food with great service. I say to my staff, we put on our Caribbean smile every day.
Keith: We’re trying to capture that feeling of untouched, natural Florida. The mangroves that surround our restaurant, the boardwalk was built to be a part of them so you can surround yourself with the beautiful nature we love in Punta Gorda/Englewood Beach
We thank Keith and Laurie Farlow again for taking the time to talk with us. Their passion for providing an exquisite culinary experience at Farlow's on the Water, in such a beautiful and natural Old Florida atmosphere, is why we think they're Outsiders. Maybe you’re an Outsider too? If so, we hope you’re inspired to learn more about Punta Gorda/Englewood Beach, where we say, “Outsiders Welcome.”