Chef Tom Delaney feels more at home in the kitchen than just about anywhere else. That’s because the culinary expert has been crafting creative dishes for the past four decades.

“I’ve been doing this for 45 years,” Delaney says with a smile, slipping onto a leather bar stool. “It’s been a long time.”

Today, his namesake restaurant — Delaney’s Bistro & Bar — is one of St. Simons Island’s premier dining establishments, one that locals and visitors alike make a point to visit regularly.

“We’ve been here for 29 years. It’s a small family restaurant. My son and daughter are both culinary-trained and work here. My wife works here,” he says. “So it really is all about family for us.”

Many of his customers have become a part of that tradition. The restaurant has welcomed diners who return with their children and even their children’s children. It’s been an incredibly rewarding experience.

“We see kids who came in with their parents but are now adults and they are bringing their kids. It’s so great that we’re in a small enough area where you can really get to know your customers and develop that relationship,” Delaney says. “We are very fortunate.”

The customers clearly share that sense of fondness and loyalty. The creative dishes, too, inspire diners to return time and again.

While Delaney’s offers an impressive set menu, featuring fresh catches and prime steak selections, the list of specials offered each day is truly extraordinary. On any given day, there can be well over a dozen that the staff shares with guests.

“We usually have about 13 to 14 specials every day. Some people are always going to try a special while some people don’t even look at the menu because they’ve been here so often that they already know what they want,” Delaney says.

The variety and novelty of the handcrated plates creates a renewed sense of interest both for the customers and the staff. Delaney relishes incorporating exotic items in ways that keep everyone interested and on their toes.

“We’ve done a lot which ostrich, for instance,” he says. “That’s not something that is easy to find but it’s a great cut of meat. It’s a very lean red meat.”

This approach is one of the many ways that Delaney’s has set itself apart from other local eateries, encouraging patrons to explore new experiences on each visit.

“The customers never get burned out this way. And that’s the same for the folks in the back. They’re never bored,” Delaney says.

Another key area of interest is the restaurant’s extensive wine list. Featuring choice vinos from South America, France and here in the states, there’s page upon page to peruse.

“We have six pages ... but we could add a lot more. I bet we have 150 wines here,” he says.

Regardless of what one orders, there will be an ideal glass to accompany it. There’s also plenty of top quality beers and choice cocktails that prove incredibly popular. Between the set menu, the innovative specials, and the expansive wine list, Delaneys offers an unforgettable dining experience for those looking for a cozy date night or a fabulous celebration.

The restaurant is open for lunch from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Tuesday to Saturday. Dinner is served from 6 to 10 p.m. daily with the bar opening at 5:30 p.m. Tuesday to Saturday.