Minding our manners, rooting for the college football team and drinking sweet tea may be well known traditions here in the South, but few traditions make the mouth water like the Sunday bunch.
Sunday is a day to sit back, relax and enjoy some delicious food over great conversation. We have found three culinary masters across the First Coast who know how to do it up right and add their own style to this lazy day’s eats. So next Sunday gather up the family, get your drawl on and head out to enjoy some serious grub faster than you can say “yes ma’am.”
29 South Eats
Some chefs spend their early careers gaining experience, working up to a thriving restaurant business, and then finish out their days content to rest on their laurels but that’s not Chef Scott Schwartz of the popular 29 South Eats. Chef Scott loves a challenge and has a knack for innovation. Credited with being part of the team responsible for Atlanta’s foodie revolution in the 90s, he is excited to now be watching his vision come to life on the First Coast. “Here, it’s like being a pioneer of that food scene all over again. We’re in that stage of creating a dining destination in Northeast Florida.”
Many ingredients in their dishes are sourced from their own backyard garden or from partnerships with local farms. Chef Scott explains further, “A lot of restaurants are farm-to-table, but we take it to the next level.” And indeed they do with 400 hens, curing and smoking their own bacon and the upcoming addition of their own fresh baked breads. Chef Scott is committed to his farm partnerships and oversees the operations involving his restaurant. He says, “It’s a lot harder to get the ingredient you want when you’re not shaking the hand that raises the crops.”
Some great examples of 29 South’s brunch offerings are the shrimp and grits, which features jumbo sautéed shrimp served with chorizo grits, grape tomatoes and fresh herbs all in a sherry pan gravy. Another signature favorite is their coffee and doughnuts, which is actually a bread pudding formed from doughnut dough, wrapped in a warm custard and served with mocha ice cream from a nearby creamery. A southern native, Chef Scott remembers his own Sunday brunches fondly, “I would wake up at my mother’s or grandmother’s house on Sunday morning and get soft baked biscuits.”
Don’t Miss: Pulled pork Benedict, a Chef’s favorite. “There’s nothing better to a Southerner than a slow roasted piece of pig.”
Blue Fish Oyster Bar
Blue Fish Oyster Bar in historic Avondale is known for their fresh seafood as well as their beautiful decor in dizzying shades of blue. What you may not know is that they serve a fabulous brunch on Sunday mornings. After some window shopping at the nearby shops, take a seat in the relaxing open air courtyard; be transported to tranquility by the sounds of the trickling fountain amid pretty potted flowers. You can even bring your pooch with you to this pet-friendly atmosphere. Our daughter enjoyed the friendly staff giving her lots of attention and getting to pet the golden puppy seated with the family next to us.
Their eclectic menu features such brunch favorites as white cheddar mac and cheese with scallops and shrimp in white truffle oil mixed with asparagus. My personal favorite whipped up by Chef Terrie Crawford is her chicken and waffle, which seems to come with a pound of fresh pecans, boneless fried chicken breasts and their own bourbon pecan syrup. Brunch includes either a mimosa or their specialty Bloody Mary rimmed in black salt and finished with a cucumber garnish. The selections are beautifully presented but it doesn’t end there. Brunch entrees also include access to the cold bar, which includes salads, fresh baked cinnamon rolls, specialty cheeses and more.
Don’t Miss: The Blue Fish Breakfast Frittata served with cheese grits, fresh veggies and made with gator sausage.
Bistro De Leon
The gregarious (known to carry a tune while he cooks) Chef Jean-Stephane Poinard is a fifth generation chef from Lyon, France who jokes that Americans are “egg crazy” and offers a French/American fusion with his brunch menu available both Saturday and Sunday. Chef Jean’s philosophy is to serve everything fresh and made to order. You won’t find 20 line cooks here, just a couple of guys who are passionate about what they do. “It’s a spirit, we care for each other and we care for what we do,” he explains. Chef Jean offers a “taste of France,” an atmosphere where people can slow down, savor and enjoy a conversation during their meal. “It’s a slower pace here, a lifestyle. Good food always makes people happy.”
In addition to the dash of passion their dishes include fresh creams, sauces and, of course, breads they make fresh from scratch. A great example is their “Best in St. Augustine Eggs Benedict” which includes fresh eggs and bacon cooked just right, served on a slice of carefully crusted brioche topped with their own special hollandaise sauce. Many of their herbs, meats and vegetables are sourced locally when the season allows. Complement your brunch with some fresh squeezed orange juice, latte or cappuccino, or satisfy your sweet tooth with an almost too-pretty-to-eat strawberry almond tart or mocha mousse.
The Bistro’s location on Cathedral Place in the heart of downtown St. Augustine allows patrons to take their fresh purchases across the street for an impromptu picnic in the Plaza, or take in the shops of St. George Street after a meal. Chef Jean muses that when his patrons leave that, “Perhaps they have captured a touch of Europe.” Locals enjoy the fresh bread made throughout the day so much so that they never seem to stay on the shelves long. As we sat in our sun filled corner, we watched the fresh batch of butter croissants they had put out upon our arrival dwindle down to a lucky few. After saying our goodbyes, Chef Jean headed back to put on his dough-covered apron and work his magic once again.
Don’t Miss: Their chocolate almond croissants made fresh daily, if you can get your hands (or mouth) on one!