Nauti Dawg Marina Cafe
Article by Linda Kaufman Photos by Jon Frangipane
Nauti Daug, the Key West-style restaurant at the Lighthouse Point Marina opened in October of 2011 to rave reviews. With a charming play on words, the name is perfect for the nautical-theme establishment and its love for canine visitors.
At the entrance, an artists’ rendition of the Labrador donning a pair of Ray Bans is actually Debbie Spieker’s pet, Tucker. The restaurant is owned and operated by the Spieker family, who have owned the marina for forty-seven years. And the friendly wait staff are dressed in black shorts and matching black T-shirt also has a canine motif that reads, “life is ruff.”
The sense of fun and playfulness permeates throughout the restaurant that sits on one of the most exquisite marinas in South Florida. Tucked away in a pastel-colored, residential Tilloston Square complex, Nauti Daug is one of the best kept secrets in our area. With no previous advertising, the restaurant was known only by word of mouth, as well as by boaters who stop to gas up their boats. Once you are there, you can indulge in a glass of wine or Sangria, enjoy the postcard perfect view of the sun-kissed yachts have an enjoyable meal, and feel as if you are on vacation.
Although the restaurant had existed for many years at the marina under different ownerships, it has never looked as good as it does now. Attention to aesthetic details seems to be a strong suit for the Spieker family. The siblings, Maureen Canada, Debbie Edwards, and Christian Spieker, who grew up in Lighthouse Point, own and operate the establishment, each involved with different aspects of the business.
Maureen, the friendly, “girl-next-door blond,” is in charge of the marketing and financial aspect of the restaurant. When the opportunity arose to take over the marina and run the restaurant, Maureen left her executive job in California to move back to Lighthouse Point to join her siblings for the new business venture. “We each have different gifts and talents and we understand how to work together. And no matter what people have said, we always knew that we can make it.”
With Chris (Brown?) as the general manager, who has over twenty years of experience running upscale waterfront restaurants, Nauti Daug is destined to be more than just a marina stop. “This is a perfect fit for what Lighthouse Point needs. It’s a quaint, Bahamian style café that sites on one of the most beautiful marinas in all of South Florida,” said Chris.
He introduced us to the parade of dishes that we were anxious to taste. If home made soups is your passion, try one of their signature items, the Bahamian conch chowder, the hearty soup with nice bits of conch and diced up vegetables. It’s filling and has a wonderfull spicy kick to it. Displayed on a large, white rectangular plate, the tuna wontons ($14) are a fun appetizer to share. Fresh ahi-tuna, served on crispy wontons with seaweed salad, sprinkled with sesame seeds, arrived like a work of art. The contrast of the soft, melt-in-your-mouth tuna and the crispy wonton shells made for an interesting combination. The Mediterranean flatbread ($13), another large appetizer was a colorful sight with bright, red diced tomatoes and white feta. There’s no fear of going home hungry after a meal here.
Every evening the chef is allowed to indulge in his creative experiments that end up as specials. Tonight, we had the honor of tasting pan-seared scallops over linguine ($26), served in a roasted red pepper goat cheese sauce with cherry tomatoes, asparagus and mushrooms. The fresh swordfish ($32) came in an Asian marinade with zucchini and mandarin orange salsa, accompanied by a homemade lobster and shrimp egg roll. It was heavenly to bite into the generous chunks of lobster and shrimps and crunchy red cabbage! Each entrée comes with a choice of two sides and with a few extra dollars you can get a small house or Caesar salad.
I’m not sure where I found the room to have the desserts, but as long as they were homemade, it seemed wrong to refuse them! Thus we were obligated to try the chocolate chip bread pudding ($7.50) with cherry and caramel sauce and dollops of fresh whipped cream. Totally sinful! And we also had to try the homemade cheesecake ($7.50) with key lime pie glaze on top. I can assure you that no one had to force us to try this delicacy.
Nauti Daug has live music on Wednesdays, Saturdays, and Sundays. On this night, Mark Zedan was on vocals with his guitar out on the dock, playing old-time favorites, such as Eric Clapton’s “Wonderful Tonight” and Louis Armstrong’s “It’s a Wonderful World.”
The evening at Nauti Daug seemed much more than just a dining experience. Men in shorts and docksiders, and women in floral sundresses stood chatting on the dock. A well-behaved golden retriever appeared content, his tail wagging and content to be amidst the crowd. A light breeze visited the marina, as the sun began to descend. It’s hard to believe that this restaurant is located only about a mile from Federal Highway. This is as close as you can get to a vacation without having to travel.
The menu changes with the season at Nauti Daug, and there are specials everyday. But you can always count on being served fresh fish, for they get them daily. One of my favorites is the simply grilled fresh Mahi sandwich ($13) on a Kaiser with lettuce and tomato. Another favorite that is unique to this restaurant is the famous Maine specialty, the lobster roll ($19) that contains large chunks of Maine lobster, lightly seasoned with mayo and celery, served over shredded lettuce on a toasted roll. They do not skimp on the lobster portion—it’s definitely worth the money. There are half a dozen salads to choose from that can be topped with various proteins such as chicken, fish, shrimp and skirt steak.
The breakfast menu is extensive with French toast with fresh strawberries, omelets, bagels, eggs Benedict, and eggs any which way. For a fine Sunday brunch, you can indulge in Mimosa or Bellini with a cup of Cappuccino.
Nauti Daug is opened every day except Tuesdays for breakfast, lunch and dinner. It is located on 2841 Marina Circle, Lighthouse Point, FL 33064. Tel: (954) 941-0246.
(This article is intended for promotional purposes only)