By Liesel Schmidt
Aug. 9, 2022
SANTA ROSA BEACH – While opening a restaurant in the midst of a pandemic and the resultant shutdowns may be an incredible leap of faith, for owners Clint Machamer and Sean Merideth, the uncertainty was worth the risk in the face of reward. Open since May of 2020, The Grove 30A has become a local hotspot for casual beach dining, focusing on brunch, small plates, specialty sandwiches, and elaborate charcuterie boards. And then there are the branded buns – literally branded with a hot iron to imprint them with the restaurant’s logo.
“We wanted to create a comfortable and casual space to enjoy good food and great drinks,” said Merideth. “We love being able to see people enjoying the space and atmosphere, so I’d say atmosphere is one major thing that sets us apart from other restaurants in the area. The atmosphere is laid back casual chic, family and ‘fur baby’ friendly. People also appreciate being able to find a place that’s out of the ordinary, with food that is flavorful, fresh, and different, in a place like this, with views like we have. We’re primarily an outdoor dining space, and we regularly host live music, so people love to come here and listen while they dine or enjoy a drink.”
Offering favorites like the Grove Burger, The Grove 30A proves that even a burger gets their special treatment. Featuring 75/25 ground beef topped with melted American cheese, spicy arugula, crisp bacon, pickles, tomato jam, and Grove burger sauce nestled on a toasted brioche bun, this handheld will require both hands to wrap around its beefiness. For lovers of the classics, The Grove’s Cuban hits all the right notes: smoked pork, prosciutto, pickles, and mustard piled onto a hoagie before being pressed for even greater flavor. For a more refreshing, light dish, the Seared Ahi Tuna Tacos are a must. Seared ahi tuna, avocado, cucumber, ginger, and toasted sesame seeds all come together in harmony in a flour tortilla and are finished with wasabi aioli and ponzu.
For a great start to the meal, bacon-wrapped dates take top billing, while black bean hummus throws convention to the wayside. Snapper ceviche brings a bright simplicity to one of the area’s best fish.
Brunch welcomes the day with Eggs Benedict, featuring seared prosciutto and perfectly poached eggs cradled by a toasted English muffin with a tangy citrus hollandaise sauce, accompanied by home fried potatoes. For a more decadent take on French toast, The Grove makes theirs using thick-sliced brioche, topped with seasonal fruit and house made bourbon maple syrup. Avocado toasts offer a healthy option, with smashed avocado, pickled red onion, crumbled feta, and basil on toasted sourdough bread.
What has made – and kept – them successful is, of course, the quality of the food and their attention to detail. “We make many of our items in house, a few examples being our Grove burger sauce, tomato jam, and apple chutney,” said Merideth, who, along with Machamer and a couple young cooks, are responsible for the magic that comes from the kitchen, including the ordering, the prep, and the cooking. “Together, we have over 30 years of restaurant experience and knowledge, and every day, we learn something new,” said Merideth.
What keeps Merideth and Machamer going is, of course, their guests. “Our favorite thing about owning a restaurant is the reward of seeing satisfied guests and returning customers,” said Merideth. “It’s not easy and can be extremely stressful, but it’s rewarding.”
The Grove 30A is located at 3375 County Road 30A, Santa Rosa Beach. For more information, call 850-660-1594 or visit their Facebook page facebook.com/thegrove30a. Reservations accepted. Open Tuesday through Thursday 3 to 9 p.m.; Friday through Saturday 10 a.m. to 10 p.m.; Sunday 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.