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.
Brunch restaurant draws inspiration from three continents
By Michelle Farnham Oct. 4, 2023
MIRAMAR BEACH – Open since the Fourth of July, the brunch hotspot Bistrology lives up to its name. Bistro: a European eatery owned by management, and -ology: a subject of study.
With its highly visible frontage on Highway 98, the months-long remodel of the former Jordano’s Pizza drew a lot of attention as owners Henry Guerrero and Jonatan Gallen – who have a construction company together – poured many hours and many dollars into their dream.
“All of the kitchen, the bathrooms, the flooring, the decorations: we put every single detail in this place from scratch,” Henry said.
Plan extra time for your trip here, not just because the menu is extensive and warrants a thorough consideration, but because, as Henry puts it, Bistrology “is not a rushed experience.” Everything, from the food to the fresh-squeezed orange juice, is made from scratch and to-order, so don’t expect fast food wait times. Don’t expect food that tastes like fast food, either.
“Everything is homemade and it’s made fresh. All the time we try to explain this to the customer because our plates take 30 minutes to make. We don’t have anything pre-prepped or frozen,” Henry said.
“We want to make this a whole experience for our guests, so we have really great WiFi, we installed purse hooks on the tables, it’s beautiful inside – all these little touches make this a comfortable place to spend time.”
An outdoor patio with sunshades and fans is offered for those wanting to dine al fresco, and Henry said they can accommodate large groups with a reservation during the week.
Sips to savor
Bistrology proudly pours “art-made coffee,” either run through their espresso machine, lovingly dubbed “Emily,” or their Japanese syphon system, which is a show in itself. While Henry and Jonatan pride themselves on shopping locally for as much product as possible – especially the seafood and Florida oranges – the coffee is imported from the best destinations in the world: Colombia, Guatemala, Costa Rica, Ethiopia and Rwanda by way of Destin Coffee. Enjoy it by the cup or take a Bistrology-branded bag, roasted and ground in-house, home with you.
For espressos, find the expected standards – Americano, latte, cappuccino and frappuccino – but also hot or cold versions of Nutella with Oreo crumbles, Pistachio with dulce de leche, and cinnamon topped with whipped cream and burnt cinnamon.
What about the food? Henry, who hails from Colombia, and Jonatan, a native of Spain, wanted to create a unique fusion of their cultures’ cuisines with traditional American brunch fare. Here you’ll find standards like pancakes, French toast, egg dishes and avocado toast, but with a decidedly international flare.
“We tried to make a fusion of Colombian and Spanish food, but using American food as the base,” Jonatan explained. “All the sauces and everything is homemade. We do everything here.”
Food is prepared by Colombian chefs with experience cooking for major hotels in the capital city of Bogatá.
“We’ve got a couple plates from south of America, like Peru, Mexico. We took the best from every country,” added Henry. A dessert case of Alfajores offers the traditional Argentinian dulce de leche cookies, too.
From the pancake menu, the Ham & Cheese Symphony leans in an unexpectedly savory direction, crowned with a sunny side up egg. If you’re after waffles, the Spanish Passion features Serrano ham and manchego cheese with a passion fruit glaze. Croissants and avocados each come stuffed, like the the Dulce de Leche croissant with singed marshmallow, or the Peruvian ceviche with shrimp and fried green plantains. More standard “American” flavors are available, too, including some gluten-free options.
Bring your appetite, as portion sizes are impressive.
“I’m a foodie guy,” Jonatan admitted with a laugh. “When I go to a restaurant and they serve a $30 plate, and it’s just a small plate, I hate that! I prefer to make a good breakfast with big portions.”
If you’re thinking more lunchtime fare, order off the sandwiches or burger menu. The Steak Brie Fusion comes with skirt steak, caramelized onion, brie and pesto mayo, topped with a fried egg. Or try the Lomo Saltado, a traditional Peruvian stir fry dish starring beef tenderloin, onions and tomatoes.
“We are really happy with the local people for the support,” Henry said of business, which has been booming since day one. “Of course when you open a business, you think it’s going to be successful, but not like this.”
Bistrology, located at 10004 Highway 98 in Miramar Beach, is open 7 a.m. to 2 p.m. seven days a week. Reservations are available on weekdays. In addition to take-out, delivery is available through Uber Eats and Door Dash. Visit them online at www.bistrology.restaurant.
Photos by Michelle Farnham
Pictured at top: The Gallen Ciabatta Toast: A fusion of flavors from Spain treating two ciabatta bread toasts with an avocado base, burrata cheese, secret sauce based on paprika and caramelized peppers, all topped with a crispy pork belly.
Hotel Effie restaurant features fresh ingredients inspired by the coast
Sept. 26, 2023 Special to 30A Food & Wine
MIRAMAR BEACH – Ovide, the signature restaurant at Hotel Effie at Sandestin Golf and Beach Resort, has launched new breakfast, brunch and dinner menus highlighting the flavors of the Gulf Coast and the freshest, in-season ingredients. All menus include ample vegan, vegetarian and gluten-free options.
“We are excited to launch our all-new breakfast, brunch and dinner menus showcasing the in-season ingredients and seafood from the Gulf Coast,” said Hotel Effie’s general manager Jim Marino.
“We work closely with regional farmers and vendors to ensure we incorporate the freshest, most sustainable ingredients into our plates.”
For breakfast (available Monday through Friday from 7 to 11 a.m.), starters include the Summer Fruit Plate ($15), featuring berries, melons and dragon fruit; fan-favorite house-made Effie’s Biscuits ($12), served with sweet butter and strawberry pepper jam; and Steel-Cut Oats ($12), with brown sugar, granola and blueberries. “From the Griddle” options include Brioche French Toast ($18), topped with bananas Foster and candied pecans, and Buttermilk Pancakes ($15), topped with vanilla whipped ricotta, blueberries and maple syrup.
“From the Farm” breakfast plates include Two Farm-Fresh Eggs ($19), served with breakfast potatoes, a choice of meat (bacon, turkey bacon or sausage) and toast (wheat, white, English muffin or Effie’s biscuit); Summer Quiche ($19), made with zucchini, yellow squash, marinated tomatoes and feta and served with breakfast potatoes; Eggs Benedict ($20), with poached eggs, spinach, hollandaise, pork belly and breakfast potatoes (add lump crab meat for $12); and 3-Egg Omelet ($20) with choice of three ingredients – mushrooms, tomatoes, spinach, bell peppers, onions, cheddar cheese, bacon or sausage (each additional item is $2) – and toast.
Breakfast “Specialties” include Biscuits and Gravy ($16), Effie’s house-made biscuits topped with sausage gravy and sunny-side eggs; Avocado Toast ($15), sourdough topped with feta cheese, heirloom tomatoes, pickled red onions, avocado mash and pepitas (add poached eggs for $6, fresh crab for $12 or chilled Gulf shrimp for $15); Toasted Bagel with Lox ($18), a Black Bear sesame bagel topped with whipped cream cheese, pickled shallots, capers and cucumber; Ovide BLT ($20), toasted sourdough topped with applewood-smoked bacon, avocado and buttermilk dressing (add egg for $3); Shrimp and Grits ($29), with Gulf shrimp, stone-ground grits, seafood tomato sauce and andouille sausage; and Corned Beef Hash ($24), with potatoes, pepper, onions, pickled red onions, avocado and sunny-side egg. Diners can also choose the Full Gulf Breakfast ($35), which includes a fruit plate, any entrée (excluding Lump Crab Benedict and Shrimp and Grits), bloody mary or mimosa, and coffee or tea. A limited kids menu is also available.
The brunch menu (available Saturday and Sunday from 7 a.m. to 2 p.m.) features many plates from the breakfast menu, plus special brunch items, including starters like the Coconut Chia Seed Parfait ($12), with lime, summer berries, toasted coconut and granola; Shrimp Cocktail ($18), with Gulf shrimp and cocktail sauce; Emerald Coast Smoked Fish Dip ($21), with pickled red onion and sourdough; and Deviled Eggs ($14), with cornichons and Parma ham.
A brunch-only “Specialty” is the Steak & Eggs ($36), a New York strip steak served with grilled tomatoes, chimichurri, eggs over-easy, toasted sourdough and breakfast potatoes. A brunch-only “From the Farm” dish is the Crab Cake Benedict ($32), served with poached eggs, hollandaise, spinach and grilled tomato.
The brunch menu also features several salad and sandwich options, including the Watermelon & Feta Salad ($17), with pine nuts, basil, Aleppo pepper and olive oil (add Gulf shrimp for $15 or fresh crab for $18); Caesar Salad ($16), with romaine lettuce, garlic croutons, Parmesan cheese, creamy Caesar dressing and crispy lardon (add grilled chicken for $9, shrimp for $15 or fresh catch for $24); Lobster Roll ($32), with tarragon aioli and celery; Blackened Grouper Sandwich ($26), toasted ciabatta topped with house slaw and lemon-garlic aioli; and Effie Burger ($22), a brioche bun topped with pimento cheese, Effie’s sauce, butter lettuce, vine-ripe tomato and pickles (add bacon, egg and/or avocado for $3 each). The Grand Sandestin Brunch ($35) includes a fruit plate, any entrée (exclusions apply), bloody mary or mimosa, and coffee or tea.
Ovide’s new dinner menu (available Sunday through Thursday from 5 to 9 p.m. and Friday and Saturday from 5 to 10 p.m.) includes a selection of “snacks,” including Pimento Cheese ($12) served with artisan crackers; Spinach & Artichoke Dip ($17), served with pita; Crispy Pork Ribs ($19), with benne seed BBQ sauce, honey and cilantro; and Beef Tartare ($24), with bone marrow aioli, quail egg and Black Bear sourdough. Soup and salad options include She-Crab Soup ($20), featuring lump crab, charred corn and tomatoes, and Burrata ($19), served with heirloom tomatoes, baguette, pickled red onion, basil, corn and English peas.
The dinner menu also features several raw bar options, including Half-Shell Oysters (half dozen, $20; dozen, $36), served with black pepper mignonette and sourdough crackers; Classic Oysters Rockefeller ($24), with bacon, Parmesan bechamel and spinach; and a Seafood Platter (market price), with half-shell oysters, shrimp cocktail, smoked fish dip, snapper ceviche and crab claws. For the main course, options include Pappardelle ($29), with basil pesto, English peas, asparagus, zucchini and Parmesan cheese; Grouper ($43), served with warm quinoa salad and herb vinaigrette; Crispy Skin Snapper ($50), served with coconut broth and charred summer vegetables; Low Country Boil ($36), with Gulf shrimp, potato, tomato, andouille sausage, corn and garlic bread; and Crispy Half Chicken ($36), with Southern collard greens, black-eyed peas and grilled lemon. Grilled options include the Berkshire Pork Chop ($43), served with stone-ground grits, peach chutney and herbs; Prime 8-Ounce Tenderloin ($66); and Prime 16-Ounce Boneless Rib-Eye ($68).
Dinner sides ($12 each) include Goat Cheese Corn Casserole with goat cheese feta, peppadew and cilantro lime aioli; Charred Broccolini with jalapeño maple and lemon; Southern Collard Greens; Smoked Turkey; Whipped Potatoes with boursin cheese; and Potato Croquettes served with Effie’s sauce.
GRAYTON BEACH – You could say the popular brunch spot Crackings. has been in the egg business for close to two decades. What started as an independently owned Another Broken Egg location in Destin expanded into a second South Walton spot for 13 years, before the Green family – Marcia, Tommy, Clayton and Kristy – decided to set out on their own, rebranding their eatery as Crackings. in March of 2018.
They closed up shop after a busy Sunday, changed the name, changed the menu, and re-opened two days later as Crackings.
So why the period in their name?
“A sentence ends with a period, right? It’s a statement!” Kristy said. Marcia was actually the one to dream up the new name, ending weeks of family brainstorming, and that dream included the resounding punctuation mark! The Greens also liked the idea of including the word “King” in the moniker, a nod to their strong sense of faith.
“Many people think our name is ‘CrackLings,’ Kristy admitted, “So we politely correct them by saying it’s like ‘cracking an egg.’”
While husband-and-wife Tommy and Marcia oversee the Destin location, next generation couple Clayton and Kristy run operations in Grayton Beach. The younger Greens actually met in the restaurant industry while students at Florida State, and the rest is history!
The last few years have truly been a time of transition for Crackings., not only the rebrand, but evolving to withstand the pandemic. When the going got rough, the Greens took it outside: outside seating, that is! Parking lot space became a temporary dining room shared with neighboring dinnertime restaurant Grayton Beach Seafood Co., and a band house arose, bringing live music to the table.
“Noticing the beauty of outdoor dining, we took the opportunity during the off-season of February 2021 and began remodeling our now beloved side-patio,” Kristy said. “Our pet-friendly outdoor dining and daily live music is here to stay.”
Eats and sweets
Turning attention to the menu, Kristy pointed to Summertime French Toast and the Fresh Gulf Snapper & Grits as two customer favorites.
“The French toast has beautifully unique flavor combinations that someone does not normally experience while eating French toast,” she said. “Aside from being topped with luscious fresh fruit, the two handmade sauces drizzled on top make it quite the experience that our guests rave about.”
While admitting that people may not think of fresh fish for breakfast, it’s worth a look on the Crackings. menu, served four ways: atop Gouda grits, Benedict-style, as part of the avocado toast called the Flocking Flat, and on the “wildly favored” Snapper Sandwich.
“We partnered with a local purveyor to provide us the freshest red snapper straight from the Gulf,” Kristy said. “We serve it fresh until we sell out, never frozen.”
You’ll also find Croisseignets (a cross between a croissant and a beignet), chicken and waffles, and a Sriracha breakfast sandwich on the menu, as well as clearly-marked vegetarian and gluten-free options.
Of course no brunch place would be complete without a little something to sip on, and Crackings.’ Cheers menu includes beer, wine, bloody Marys and their famous Mason jar mimosas.
Clayton has dubbed Kristy the “Crackings. mad scientist” when it comes to developing new mimosa combos – all made with fresh juices and fruits. Look for new flavors to be announced this season, in addition to best-sellers like blood orange, blueberry passion fruit, and pineapple coconut.
Although seating is first-come, first-served, diners are able to join the list before arriving via Yelp Waitlist, which is especially handy during those peak weekend brunch hours.
“This helps when we reach long wait times and guests can join our wait list from their phone while still at their house,” Kristy explained. “They can watch their place in line and head to the restaurant when they see they are reaching the top of the list.”
Crackings. is located at 51 Uptown Grayton Circle in the Grayton Beach area of Santa Rosa Beach. They’re open Tuesday to Sunday, 8 a.m. to 1 p.m., closed Mondays. Visit them at crackingsfl.com or call 850-231-7835.
INLET BEACH – Canopy Road Café’s new 30-A restaurant, located at 12805 US-98, promises to shake up the old breakfast routines of locals and tourists alike. This isn’t your grandmother’s bacon-and-eggs breakfast joint.
From whimsical dishes like Fat Elvis pancakes (in case you were wondering: peanut butter and banana pancakes filled with chopped bacon and topped with a peanut butter drizzle), to customized skillets with every ingredient under the Emerald Coast sun – Canopy Road Café has you covered.
Children will love Canopy Road Café because they aren’t treated as an afterthought. When they see that plate of Cookies and Cream French Toast headed their way, the expression on their faces is priceless. And when they take a picture of it and send it to their friends, you’ll know you picked the right breakfast spot.
But Canopy Road Café isn’t all sprinkles and whipped cream – there is something for the entire family. From five different “benedict” dishes to handhelds, omelets and house favorites, every breakfast base is covered.
And if the lunch hour has arrived, you can dig into an Angus burger, fries and wash it all down with a cold beer before heading back to work or the beach.
Canopy Road Café is the creation of Brad Buckenheimer and David Raney, college buddies who worked at a Tallahassee diner but knew they eventually wanted to start their own business.
Now, Canopy Road Café is taking off with eight locations sprinkled throughout the state and more on the way.
“We love what we do, and we love making people happy,” said Brad. “Smiles and sighs are our goal – smiles because breakfast was fun and sighs because they were satisfied.”
Brad and Dave are Florida boys who honor their roots – all of the meat and produce served at the restaurant come from the Sunshine State.
“We use local art in the restaurants, local vendors and cater to locals first,” Dave said. “Local diners will find that it doesn’t take long for our staff to learn their names and what they like. We hire local people and treat them well to keep turnover at the minimum.”
Open from 6:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. daily, Canopy Road Café is located at 12805 US-98, Inlet Beach, within the 30Avenue complex. Find them online at www.canopyroadcafe.com.
MIRAMAR BEACH – Having recently turned 50, Chef Giovanni Filippone has a lot to look back on across the five decades of his life.
A French-born Italian, Filippone grew up in a Sicilian family that emigrated to New Jersey after living in France, giving him a culturally diverse background that is obvious in his cuisine – not to mention his vocabulary. Speaking French, Italian, and “screwed up English,” or what he terms “Jerseyish,” Filippone is unapologetically unique and unabashed about being himself, an energetic force of creativity that culminates into dishes that sing with flavor and display an exceptional understanding of nuance.
Growing up in Europe with a mother who cooked meals from scratch using fresh ingredients, Filippone was inspired to become a chef – one at least as good as his mother was.
“She really impacted my career the most,” he said. “I grew up with her authentic Sicilian cooking, so that’s really where it all started.”
Where it led was the Culinary Institute of America at Hyde Park in New York, where he honed the natural talent that had been growing in him since childhood. It was an externship at Destin’s iconic Marina Café that brought the young aspiring chef to the Emerald Coast. Naturally, Filippone fell hard and fast for the beauty all around him and the friendliness of the people.
“I’d come from New Jersey and fell in love with the area,” he recalled. “I returned to New Jersey and promised myself I would come back here one day. A few years later, I bought a one-way ticket and moved to paradise.”
Living in paradise, Filippone has become part of the food scene at some of the area’s best restaurants, making his mark and showing just what incredible talent he has. Holding positions as executive chef of Marina Café as well as Beachwalk Cafe, Destin Chops, and Vue on 30a, he went on to become executive chef and managing partner at Mama Clemenza’s European Breakfast in 2019. Partnering with William Dee, the two have created a concept that offers guests decadent European-style breakfast dishes made from scratch.
“It’s a great nod to my roots, as we serve delicious European fare, and the schedule is great because it allows me more time with my wife and children,” said Filippone, who has two daughters with his wife, Jennifer.
A two-time contestant on Fox’s cult hit Hell’s Kitchen, Filippone is somewhat famous, having gone nose-to-nose with Chef Gordon Ramsey on more than one occasion. But fame isn’t what he seeks; rather, he simply wants to cook – and live at the beach.
“The beaches and the food drew me here when I was searching for externship opportunities,” he said. “Now, I love living here.”
With 30 years of being a chef under his belt, Filippone has a career that has taken him far. And while he may be a long way from the land of his birth and the country that runs deep in his veins, he brings it to his guests, welcoming them to his table and telling a story with every bite.
SANDESTIN – The 2020 offseason proved the perfect time for the sun to temporarily set on Sunset Bay Cafe. The restaurant was closed for a major remodel, modernizing the dining room of Sandestin’s much-loved eatery. Upon reopening, guests were welcomed into an indoor space as lovely as the waterfront locale the restaurant is named for.
“We basically gutted it,” admitted Bryce Jarvis, who co-owns the restaurant with his father, Gary. “All new walls, all new floors. We’re really excited.”
A palette of muted grays and weathered wooden floors really brighten up the space, highlighted by white shiplap accents. One wall of the dining room is adorned with a colorful mural, adding splashes of beachy seafoam, coral, yellow and blue.
The outside dining space uses the natural beauty of the Choctawhatchee Bay as its décor, surrounded by palm trees, blue skies and sunshine. A row of outdoor tables take advantage of the shade from the building’s awning, as guests enjoy cool breezes coming off the water.
Quenching that summertime thirst is no problem, with a selection of house cocktails – including five Bloody Mary options, three mimosas, a screwdriver and the Tequila Sunrise. The nearby outdoor Tiki Bar is open seasonally, positioned near the resort’s outdoor pool and the bay. You’ll find breakfast options like hot or iced tea, cappuccino, espresso, and iced coffee, as well as juices, milk and soda.
Now for the food
Once you’ve chosen a seat, the real decision-making begins. Like any good brunch house, the menu is varied, broken down into Starters, Benedicts, Breakfast Platters, Omelets, From the Griddle, Soups & Salads, and Lunch Plates & Sandwiches.
Get the meal started with a homemade cinnamon roll with Florida orange cream cheese icing or fried cheese curds with marinara.
Benedicts include favorites like the Fried Green Tomato, served with blackened shrimp and Old Bay Hollandaise sauce; or the Southern Boy featuring white peppered gravy and sausage atop homemade buttermilk biscuits.
Hot off the griddle, diners can chose from pancakes, French toast, or waffles, adorned with fruity favorites like blackberries, peaches, bananas or strawberry cream cheese – all served with two eggs and choice of breakfast meat.
As with any good Southern establishment, there’s your Shrimp & Grits, Chicken & Waffles and Crab Cakes. You might not expect the likes of Shrimp Grilled Cheese (five cheeses, spinach, and Gulf shrimp) with a cup of tomato bisque, or the Seafood Tacos (fish or shrimp served your way with fried plantains and coconut pineapple dipping sauce).
As fishermen, the Jarvises understand the importance of fresh seafood, and source as much sustainably caught seafood as they can get, delivered straight from the Destin docks.
They’re famous for their Sidewinder Fries: curls of fried potatoes with the perfect amount of seasoning. Off the Starters menu, they come topped with white pepper gravy, bacon, chives, and cheese curds. The side is also available at sister restaurant Slick Lips Seafood & Oyster House, located in the nearby Village of Baytowne Wharf.
Sunset Bay Cafe is located at 158 Sandestin Blvd. North, near the Linkside Conference Center within the Sandestin Golf and Beach Resort in Miramar Beach. Visit them online at www.sunsetbaycafesandestin.com or call 850-267-7108. Breakfast and lunch are served seven days a week from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m.
WATERCOLOR – There’s a new breakfast game in town, one as charmingly Southern as the rocking chairs you’ll find on its front porch. A sign on the wall encourages diners to “Count the memories, not the calories.”
“A square biscuit makes it much easier for you to eat with both hands!” – Gabrielle Testa, WaterColor Resort
Opened Feb. 1, Scratch Biscuit Kitchen Chef Matt Moore and his crew bake up cathead biscuits (so named for being the size of a cat’s head), all made from – you guessed it – scratch.
With the slogan, “Baked with care, served up square,” these aren’t your average biscuits.
“A square biscuit makes it much easier for you to eat with both hands!” explained Gabrielle Testa, general manager for WaterColor Resort.
Testa pointed to the Deep South biscuit, featuring fried green tomatoes, or the Chicken Fried with honey butter and pickles, as her favorites.
“The piece of chicken spans out from the biscuit! If you’re really hungry, that’s your go-to, but you won’t eat any other meals for the rest of the day!” Testa admitted with a laugh.
Benny-style biscuits include Nola’s Finest, featuring andouille sausage; the Port St. Joe with fried oysters; and the Cold Cured Salmon with avocado and hard-boiled egg. For those looking outside the biscuit, the Not So Square menu has meals served on sourdough or a bed of lettuce, all with chips or a side salad.
In addition to biscuit-based fare, Scratch Biscuit Kitchen also serves house-made jams (check out the tomato and jalapeño), jellies and gravies; an assortment of sides including grits, house chips, and hash brown casserole; and muffins. The Sweets menu offers a Biscuit Doughnut with Chocolate Gravy, Matt’s Apple Pie, and a bread pudding featuring bourbon vanilla anglaise.
“We have different specials every day, so we can get creative,” Testa said. “For example, we have perfected the vegan cinnamon roll to meet the dietary needs of such a diverse community.”
Younger diners are in luck, as the Kids Menu offers up a mini biscuit, turkey sandwich, scrambled eggs, PB&J or “chicken nuggies,” all served with apple sauce and a juice.
Lovers of a cup o’ Joe might appreciate the Mug Club. Guests who purchase the SBK YETI mug get unlimited coffee for $1 per visit. Scratch serves a rotation of personal Southern blend brews; on this day it was the Front Porch, Azalea City, Southern Pecan, and the Live Oak Decaf. An assortment of sodas, juices and even beer and mimosas are also poured daily.
There are three seating options: indoor tables, stools at the counter, or four outdoor picnic tables positioned under oversized umbrellas. The carryout window also allows for quick grab-and-go service.
Visit Scratch online at www.scratchbk.com where Moore shares his buttermilk biscuit recipe in a tutorial video.
Scratch Biscuit Kitchen is located at WaterColor Town Center, 1777 E. Co. Hwy. 30A, Unit 101, Santa Rosa Beach. Open for dine-in or to-go daily from 7 a.m. to 2 p.m. (the takeout window opens at 6:30).
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.