3 for 30a- Chef Jim Shirley

Story By Natalie Haddock
Photography Courtesy of Clutch Media Works and Jim Shirley

Chef, author, philanthropist, business owner, celebrity. Stretching from Pensacola to the heart of 30a he has influenced nine successful restaurants and finds the time to work as a community leader and activist. You probably already know who I’m referring to – Chef Jim Shirley, famous restaurateur who has also been featured on Emeril Lagasse’s “Emeril’s Florida” and on the Travel Channel’s “Bizare Foods with Andrew Zimmern.” His aesthetic is considered to be “Modern Southern Cuisine” which shares influences from around the world as well as his grandmother’s traditional southern style.

Chef Jim Shirley
Chef Jim Shirley

This week’s edition of 3 for 30a is to highlight a few of Shirley’s restaurants that complement the 30A dining scene.

Friday, April 17th – Formerly the Justin Gaffrey studio, Seaside is home to Shirley’s newest concept, 45 Central. This delightful wine bar features 45 assorted wines including those from the Seaside Wine Project and the 30A Coastal Wine. Make yourself at home by posting up at table or seated along the handmade bar, or find yourself relaxing into the comfy couch. When deciding from Shirley’s ever-evolving menu, consider the House Cured Bacon Trio. This amazing treat features bacon with white chocolate drizzle and walnuts, bacon with dark chocolate, guajillo and coconut, and also their original house cured bacon. Plates you may be more willing to share as you sip and socialize include tangy hummus, smoked fish dip, or a gourmet cheese plate. Stop in from 4:00- midnight any day of the week to see the featured menu.

Great Southern Cafe's Shrimp and Grits A-Ya-Ya
Great Southern Cafe’s Shrimp and Grits A-Ya-Ya

Saturday, April 18th – The Great Southern Café is a cornerstone restaurant in Seaside. It is famous not only for its authentic southern atmosphere, with a wide porch and cozy dining room(s), but also for its home-style cooking and cocktails. A refreshing mojito is the perfect way to start your southern day and here you can choose from an assortment of flavor varieties like strawberry, mango, and peach. The signature dish at Great Southern is the Grits-a-Ya-Ya, celebrated around the nation and named “The best Southern dish in the state of Florida” by Florida Travel and Life Magazine. Happy hour is every day from 4:00 to 6:00 p.m. which includes half off all cocktails and wines by the glass and $1 off beers.

The Bay in South Walton.
The Bay in South Walton.

Sunday, April 19th – Sundays are exciting in South Walton. It is the day of the week where we are compelled to both relax and find new adventures before the work week picks up again. This Sunday take a brunch expedition on a Hydrobike to the Bay restaurant. The adventure begins at 10:00 AM when you meet with Emerald Coast Hydrobikes at Tom’s Landing in Point Washington. From there you take a leisurely ride along Choctawhatchee Bay and over to Shirley’s scenic restaurant, the Bay. Enjoy cocktails and a delicious brunch while relaxing on their private beach or on the sun deck. The chicken and waffles are worth the trip alone! Brunch menu items also include a Pork Belly Benedict as well as the Egg BLT. Return to Tom’s Landing by 2:00 PM and you’ve had a full day.