We’ve really been fortunate to have the past year to go out and explore so much of the Panhandle in a more leisurely way. One of my favorite discoveries (although, apparently almost everyone else in the world knew about it but me), was the Great Southern Cafe in Seaside.
Besides being located smack dab center in the midst of all the goodness that is Seaside, the cafe boasts a fabulous breakfast, lunch, and dinner menu (and we found they also offer a late brunch – at least on Sundays anyway – if you miss breakfast). But you don’t have to worry about whether it’s breakfast, lunch or dinner to get their signature dish (and one of my all time beach fare favs):
Grits à Ya Ya
From their menu, “Grits à Ya Ya is a delectable Southern specialty of our smoked Gouda cheese grits smothered with a sauce of fresh cream, sautéed Gulf shrimp, spinach, portobello mushrooms, applewood-smoked bacon, garlic, and shallots topped with sweet potato hay.” Paired with a cup of black coffee and a mimosa to wash it down for breakfast? Heaven! But it’s just as great as a mid-afternoon-I-doubt-I’ll-eat-again-early-supper with a cold beer. You haven’t had shrimp and grits like this! This is the epitome of southern shrimp and grits.
They also have a superb breakfast menu, complete with an array of my favorite breakfast fare, aptly named: Great Southern Benedicts. Not just one type of Eggs Benedict – six different versions so you can try them all over a week of Saturdays. There’s the Cafe Benedict, with apple-wood smoked bacon, Eggs Sardou with collard and artichoke sauce, a corned beef hash version, one with grilled chicken and veggies, and of course, two versions of the great southern tradition of adding some fried-green-tomatoes-to-anything-we-can-think-of – and one of those comes with the added seafood touch of lump crab meat! All served with poached eggs over perfectly toasted English muffins and doused with a good-but-not-overdone measure of Hollandaise sauce (and a side of their famous Gouda cheese grits of course). Their breakfast menu also comes with a selection of waffles, pancakes, biscuits and gravy (beware – this is an entire meal, not just a side) and, of course, beignets and fruit.
I’ve not yet had a chance to sample their full dinner menu (looking forward to that experience and subsequent post), but we did stop by for an afternoon lunch during the doldrums of early January. Stan had the Braised Beef (“tender beef slowly braised in a rich red wine and vegetable stock, placed over scallion mashed potatoes, and capped with caramelized onions”) and he actually let me have a bite. I wanted more but was too polite to force the issue. Delicious! Although I really wanted to try the Crab Martini (“jumbo lump crab meat and avocado”), I ended up with the Grits à Ya Ya ’cause…well, I was starving and just couldn’t resist. But I’m looking forward to trying out so much of their menu – from the crab cakes and fried green tomatoes (there they are again) to the Soul Rolls (chicken, collard greens, crisp wrapper, peach chutney & creole mustard-horseradish – that just sounds flippin’ unbelievable) to the basic fried okra, pulled pork or pecan crusted fish of the day. It all sounds perfect for a week of Saturdays.
Or maybe a year of them, too.
Want to view those mouth watering menus? Visit The Great Southern Cafe on the web to whet your appetite!