SANDESTIN – Fine dining restaurant Ovide has launched new breakfast, brunch and dinner menus, focusing on the flavors of the Gulf Coast and its inherently Southern roots. From Coconut Chia Seed Parfait to Deviled Eggs, Watermelon & Feta Salad to a Lobster Roll, and Crispy Pork Ribs to Goat Cheese Corn Casserole, the new menu includes ample vegan, vegetarian and gluten-free options, too. The Ovide staff welcomed 30A Food and Wine for a four-course menu, highlighting some of the best the kitchen has to offer, as well as a sneak peek of possibilities to come.
Slideshow: Ovide at Hotel Effie
The corn bread sharing plate is a traditional corn bread topped with egg yolk, served with strawberry jam and honey butter dredged in corn flakes. The bread is beautifully sweet and tender with the slightest crunch on the edges. This vegetarian-friendly starter is available on the dinner menu.
Ovide’s she-crab soup is fall comfort food in a bowl, and the kitchen is not skimping on the seafood! Available all day, this soup is made with crème fraîche and fresh chives.
A feast for the eyes and the tastebuds, the Mega Toast lives up to its name. Served with a steak knife – and for good reason – this brunch and lunch item is built off deliciously caramelized Black Bear Bread Co. sourdough with smoked salmon, poached egg yolks, Boursin cheese, heirloom tomato and radish.
Chef Karim El Kady’s lamp chops special is not currently on the menu, but is something he’s hoping might be someday. Seasoned with aleppo spice and chilis, the chops are grilled then finished in the oven. Chef serves this with heirloom grain polenta with Parmigiano reggiano, and is topped with tomato-okra stew.
Ovide is located at 1 Grand Sandestin Blvd, Miramar Beach, within Hotel Effie in the Sandestin resort. Serving guests year-round, breakfast is offered 7 a.m. to 11 a.m. Monday to Friday, lunch 11 a.m. to 2 p.m., and dinner runs 5 to 9 p.m. nightly, open until 10 p.m. Friday and Saturday. A weekend brunch is held from 7 a.m. to 2 p.m. For more information, visit www.hoteleffie.com/dining/ovide.
SOUTH WALTON – The James Beard Foundation has been awarding the culinary industry’s best of the best since 1990. James Beard, host of the first-ever television cooking program “I Love to Eat,” was a prolific recipe-writer and author, and considered to be the father of the modern era of “celebrity chefs.”
Often referred to as “the Oscars of the food world,” Beard’s namesake prize has honored the likes of Wolfgang Puck, Mario Batali, Jose Andrés, and Bobby Flay, to name a few. Although many of the prizes go to innovators in the big cities like Chicago and New York, the emerging culinary mecca of South Walton certainly has drawn the foundation’s attention.
Media and retail giant Emeril Lagasse, whose empire includes Emeril’s Coastal in Grand Boulevard, has racked up 19 nominations over his career, including wins for Who’s Who of Food & Beverage in America (1989), Best Chefs in America (1991), and Humanitarian of the Year (2013).
“Every day we do our best to improve and learn from each other and others in our industry and it’s always an honor to be recognized for what my team and I work so hard to achieve,” Lagasse said.
It’s not uncommon to see Emeril behind the line at the Sandestin destination – his newest spot – as he calls Miramar Beach home while traveling between his other restaurants Emeril’s and Meril in New Orleans and Emeril’s New Orleans Fish House and Delmonico Steakhouse in Las Vegas.
Lagasse’s philanthropic endeavors are well known, as The Emeril Lagasse Foundation has raised millions for various children’s charities since 2002, and he was a major benefactor of the local Seaside Neighborhood School, where his two youngest children attended.
Famed Canadian-turned-Southerner Chef Hugh Acheson, who brought his talents crafting the menu to Ovide in Sandestin’s Hotel Effie in early 2021, has garnered himself 14 nominations, including wins for Best Chef: Southeast (2012) and American Cooking – Book (2012) for “A New Turn in the South: Southern Flavors Reinvented for Your Kitchen.” Acheson’s resume also includes time spent as a judge on the reality cooking TV show “Top Chef” and as an Iron Chef on “Iron Chef Canada.”
Acheson hosts the occasional dinner at the sleek Sandestin restaurant, including a five-course menu with wine pairings, and a book-signing and champagne reception last summer.
Acheson also owns Five & Ten, opened in Athens, Ga., in 2000, and Empire State South in Atlanta, opened in 2010.
Fellow Southern Chef and cookbook author John Currence has won favor with the foundation half a dozen times, including Best Chef: South (2009) for his Oxford, Miss., restaurant City Grocery. He set up shop on the Emerald Coast in 2017 with Florida’s first Big Bad Breakfast in Inlet Beach. Following the success of the brunch house, Currence adding a second location in Miramar Beach, located in front of the Silver Sands Premium Outlet complex.
He has a collection of dining spots in Oxford, including City Grocery, Bourè, Snackbar, and the flagship Big Bad Breakfast, which has also expanded into Alabama, Tennessee, and South Carolina.
You might have seen Currence on any number of cooking shows like Top Chef Masters, Bizzarre Foods, and No Reservations: Parts Unknown.
Not to be overlooked
The foundation does not overlook bakers, either. Chef Deb Swenerton earned herself a nomination for Outstanding Baker in 2019 during her tenure with Black Bear Bread Co.
“I never thought anything like that would happen,” Swenerton said after learning of the nomination.
Swenerton’s breads and pastries helped the local bakery grow since its founding in 2016, now boasting a trio of locations in Grayton Beach, Seaside and Grand Boulevard.
Local restaurateur Chef Jim Shirley has been honored to cook at the prestigious James Beard House in Manhattan, a center for the culinary arts maintained by the JBF. The owner of local eateries Great Southern Café, The Bay, Farm & Fire, North Beach Social, The Chicken Shack, C-Bar, b.f.f. and The Meltdown on 30A, has graced the legendary kitchen half a dozen times, bringing his signature Southern dish Grits a Ya Ya to the Big Apple.
That’s a lot of award-winning talent for one town; go out and taste it all!
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.