The Gafford in downtown Stuart bills itself as a restaurant where “casual meets upscale,” and it’s an apt description. The atmosphere is convivial, but the food leans more to the sophisticated. The Gafford is a family-owned eatery. Rick Wilson is the owner, along with his wife, Elizabeth, and he can be seen most nights expediting orders in the open kitchen or chatting with diners, making sure the food and service are just right. He’s spent more than 30 years in the restaurant business.
His son, Taylor Wilson, is the chef, and clearly knows his craft. A standout appetizer at The Gafford is the Tuna Tartar, served with first-rate guacamole, wasabi cream and wonton chips. My other favorite starter is the Smoked Duck Wings, which are actually drumsticks tossed with sweet chili, sesame and citrus—a perfect balance of sweet and acidic flavors.
The signature entrée here is “The Gafford,” a 20-ounce, bone-in Black Angus ribeye. The steak is exceptionally flavorful, served with herb butter and a side of mac ‘n’ cheese. Another popular entrée is Mabel’s Fried Chicken, a recipe perfected by chef Taylor’s grandmother many years ago. The super-crispy coating yields to tender, southern-style boneless chicken breasts, which are served with a white gravy over a generous helping of garlic mashed potatoes.
Fish lovers should not miss out on the Scottish Salmon, grilled to order and served with either spicy jalapeño barbecue sauce or garlic herb butter over a bed of wild grains.
The service is worth noting as well. Our waiter was friendly, knowledgeable and attentive from beginning to end. If you’re planning a trip to downtown Stuart, The Gafford is certainly worth a visit—just be sure to make a reservation, particularly during high season.
The Gafford; 47 SW Flagler Ave.; 772.221.9517; thegafford.com