July 28, 2020
By Laura Holloway
GRAYTON BEACH – When you first walk through the doors of Black Bear Bread Co. in Grayton Beach, the whiff of freshly baked bread and aromatic coffee brewing instantly tickles the senses, encouraging the stomach to growl and inviting the mouth to water. It’s impossible to resist, and upon seeing the menu, it’s clear why so many have made Black Bear a regular part of their day. Defined as ‘your neighborhood bakery, coffee shop and all-day seasonal café,’ the small yet very mighty restaurant offers everyday selections with surprising and unforgettable flavor upgrades.
“Black Bear Bread Co. is basically something that I wanted to do for the locals here, but it also stemmed from my time living in Brooklyn,” McDonald explained. “I learned a lot from a restaurant group that I worked for, and I worked with a baker there that inspired me to want to create fresh bread. I started eating all this sourdough, and I wanted to learn how to make bread. I wanted to open my own sandwich shop back home.”
He spent time working with Rauschkolb at Pizza Bar, and during that time he started making bread in wood fire ovens. This was the moment that the idea for the bakery first began, and together the two created what has become a culinary staple for locals and visitors alike. The Black Bear team they assembled – which includes James Beard Award-nominated baker Deb Swenerton – works efficiently together to give patrons a delectable experience.
Freshly baked breads, wrapped in traditional bakery paper, entice guests in new ways, with such mouthwatering choices as sourdough (country, multigrain, fruit & nut, and olive) and baguettes. Pastries include croissants, cinnamon rolls, bear claws, cheese danishes, scones, and bagels that are known for selling out to those lucky patrons who plan for early visits to the café.
A menu to hold its own
Of course, while many come to grab a pastry or loaf of bread, there are just as many who stay for the unique and delectable menu which offers breakfast all day (steel cut oatmeal, acai bowl, egg and cheese biscuit, bagel and lox, and full-flavored tartines, including Avocado (with house pickles and za’atar), smoked salmon (with crème fraîche, radish “salad” preserved lemon, and extra virgin olive oil on multigrain), and banana (with whipped ricotta, local honey, sea salt, mint, chili, and pecans on sourdough), which Chef Phil first created at his home.
“It’s really interesting; they say that necessity is the mother of invention. I created this dish at my house from the only items that were in our fridge, and it’s been one of our most popular dishes here,” McDonald said. “It’s a tug-of-war between sweet and savory – you can’t really put your finger on what it is.”
Lunch delivers its own power punch of flavor, providing seasonal soup selections, inventive salads like the Dragonfly Arugula (with pecan sherry vinaigrette, radicchio, smoky blue and herbs) and sandwiches like the Tall Pines Roast Beef (with fennel slaw, horseradish, basil, and aioli on a baguette).
Aromatic Stumptown Coffee quenches morning thirsts and a small yet thoughtful wine and beer list services the adult crowd with aplomb. And although the menu can hold its own with any big-city establishment, it’s the small-town, neighborhood feel of Black Bear that keeps many patrons returning again and again.
“A lot of the businesses on 30A are independently owned, so there’s not a lot of corporate. It’s really great that we’ve kept this corridor road mom-and-pop for so long. Even the people who visit here appreciate that, too. As long as we keep that, that will be the allure of this place,” McDonald shared.
Black Bear Bread Co. is located in the Shops of Grayton at 26 Logan Lane, Unit G, in Grayton Beach. The cafe is open Monday through Saturday from 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. and Sunday from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. Bar Room hours are 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday to Saturday, and 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Sunday. More information can be found by visiting www.blackbearbreadco.comor calling 850-588-2086. A second location will be opening this year at Grand Boulevard in Sandestin.