by The Editors | March 17, 2016
Just Hatched: Debuts to Peruse
Openings around the state
Tallahassee’s newest culinary gem started out as the city’s power plant. Nearly 95 years later, The Edison (a nod to the lightbulb’s inventor) which opened in September 2015, beckons foodies with indulgent dishes like blackened salmon and filet mignon and views of a waterfall in Cascade Park from an outside deck and high arching windows. Inside, weathered brick walls and a bar illuminated by an incandescent sign that spells “BE BRIGHT” give the space a hip touch.
At the helm: Chef John Minas. Trained at the Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, New York, he spent the past four years creating healthy, flavorful meals for Governor Rick Scott and his family. Of Armenian and Assyrian descent, Minas created a menu with many Mediterranean items prepared with savory ingredients, such as veal porterhouse and pasta carbonara. The Edison also serves plenty of American handheld options, including a hamburger (topped with brown sugar bacon, Sriracha aioli, pickled red onions, and white cheddar), and lobster roll. edisontally.com
Really Good Beer Stop
It’s not a bar—it’s a beer boutique. For beer lovers with places to be, whether that’s The World’s Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party or home with friends, that distinction is key.
When Tim Brack moved from Jacksonville to the suburbs of Atlanta in 2012 with a 6-month-old in tow, he quickly discovered, like many new parents, “the bar scene was a thing of the past.” But his penchant for craft beer remained, so he sought out places that sold it, allowing him to enjoy it at home with his inner circle. He found several spots staffed with beer aficionados, who learned his flavor profile and directed him to dozens of new favorites. “I loved it,” he says. “I’d never had that kind of assistance.” When he returned to Jacksonville Beach in December 2014, Brack vowed to open his own space for hopheads to find quality beer and expert advice for their grab-and-go needs.
In October 2015, his dream became reality with Really Good Beer Stop in Jacksonville Beach. In addition to a robust selection of bottles and cans, the shop has 20 rotating taps, ranging from local brews to regional and national craft beers, which the staff will pour in a reusable growler for customers to enjoy off-site at their leisure. Growlers go up to 128 ounces, though 64 ounces is the most popular, which is the equivalent of a
That’s not to say Really Good Beer Stop discourages lingering, though. There’s a bar and a picnic table to accommodate guests who wish to imbibe in-house. Tall windows flood the space with natural light. The mood is so airy and inviting, a local yoga studio often holds occasional Saturday classes here, followed by “beermosas.” reallygoodbeerstop.com
The Poor Porker
Very nearly broke, Jarrid Masse and Robyn Wilson moved from Los Angeles to Masse’s hometown of Lakeland in 2011 with the dream of selling beignets, a delicacy they never could find in the City of Angels. (Too caloric, perhaps?)
Within two weeks of arriving in central Florida, they introduced to the Lakeland Farmers Market The Poor Porker, a portable stand built with materials salvaged from a junkyard. They spent their last $300 to purchase a Coleman camp stove, Dutch oven, thrift store percolator, coffee beans and baking ingredients. Luckily, locals loved it. Word quickly spread of the couple’s fried dough treats, served with unexpected toppings like bacon and maple syrup, and smoked chicory (now branded as Campfire Coffee and sold online).
No longer just a weekend indulgence for early risers, The Poor Porker put down roots on Main Street in November 2015. This inviting hippie-chic artisanal compound includes the signature beignet and coffee stand, a bar, a specialty food store, and Bearcat and Big 6 Trading Post, a boutique stocked with handcrafted items. Live music encourages patrons to linger in the evenings and savor the ambience and hospitality. thepoorporker.com
The Osprey Tavern
The Osprey Tavern, which opened in March 2015, demonstrates how complex and satisfying American cuisine can be. Jason and Sue Chin, the couple behind neighborhood favorite Seito Sushi, conceived the tavern and embellished it with an open kitchen and elegant trimmings, such as gilded sconces and a lakeside tapestry. The Chins appointed as executive chef and sous chef Joseph Burnett and Elek Kovacs, respectively, both formerly of Norman’s at the Ritz-Carlton Orlando. The duo prepares familiar entrées like pizza with unexpected ingredients such as celery root puree and roasted Brussels sprouts for a memorable culinary experience. Additionally, their falafel, with fava shoots and paprika oil, and hot dog, served in a baguette with IPA Dijonnaise and cornichon relish, elevate the perception of bar food and attract happy-hour revelers in throngs. ospreytavern.com
The Gates Hotel
In April 2015, The Gates unlocked a boutique hotel with a contemporary residential feel. Styled in a calming color-scheme of cream and beige, rooms feature eco-friendly and reclaimed elements, such as exposed whitewashed beams and platform beds of hand-washed pine. Modern amenities like high-speed Internet, refrigerators and Keurig machines re-create the conveniences of home, while luxurious bedding, glass walk-in showers, and towels and bathrobes from The Turkish Towel Company—not to mention the welcome cocktail at check-in—encourage travelers to unwind.
Guests disinclined to battle the crowds on Duval Street can kick back at The Gates’ Rum Row. By day a sunny retreat for poolside lounging and snacking, come sunset it becomes a lively watering hole that serves specialty rums and craft cocktails, a throwback to the Prohibition era, and hosts live local music acts.
For a small fee you can rent a bicycle to explore the island. Hotel perks include VIP treatment for furry jetsetters including plush bed, water bowl, and a curated box of treats and toys. gateshotelkeywest.com
Beaker & Gray
An old ice factory has found new life as a hotspot for globally inspired cuisine and inventive cocktails. Following a wildly successful preview during Art Basel, Beaker & Gray officially opened its doors in the heart of Miami’s Wynwood Arts District in early December 2015. The 3,600-square-foot space features an open kitchen, intimate lounge furnished with cozy ottomans, a chef’s table and a 13-seat bar (equipped with built-in cellphone charging stations). Two grand bronze chandeliers illuminate the brick and wood interior, which is decorated with reclaimed artisan tiles and Calacatta marble countertops.
Owners Brian Nasajon (executive chef) and Ben Potts (bar manager) draw on years of experience at swanky local establishments including Wish, SushiSamba, Blackbird Ordinary and The Broken Shaker. The childhood friends dreamed of running their own business with an emphasis on elegant, complex dishes and drinks rendered in an approachable manner.
Standout plates include savory churros, sandwichitos, Spanish octopus salad, suckling pig, and Wagyu skirt steak. The cocktail menu is divided into two sections, Shaken and Stirred. Shaken cocktails feature lighter, refreshing options such as the Halliwell (Stolichnaya vodka, Cocchi Americano Rosa, ginger, strawberry and fresh mint) and the Lavagave (Don Julio Blano, Fidencio mezcal, lavender, egg white, grapefruit and vanilla bitters). Stirred libations, such as the Super Vin Santo (Michter’s American whiskey, manzanilla sherry and Faretti biscotti), cater to boozy and bold palates. beakerandgray.com
West Palm Beach
Clay Conley, the James Beard-nominated chef and partner in Palm Beach favorites Buccan and Imoto, has brought his talents across the bridge to Grato, which opened in January.
Grato —the name translates to “grateful” in Italian— reinterprets simple dishes, such as beef carpaccio and bucatini carbonara, with well-honed techniques and high-quality ingredients. Modest price points encourage guests to make repeat visits to try various dishes.
“I live in this community, and for a while I’ve dreamed of opening a place that I could bring my family and friends to on a regular basis,” Conley explains. To please the youngest of diners, he created a special children’s menu with options like Fusili ’n Cheese ’n Trees (baked fusilli, cheese sauce and broccoli) and PB&J Panini (coarse ground peanut butter, berry preserves and banana).
Conley shows his dexterity in handmade pastas and brick-oven pizzas, as well as gorgeous main plates like porchetta, New York strip steak and herb-marinated chicken, cooked over a wood fire in the brick oven, rotisserie or grill.
Grato strikes a light and airy tone with soaring ceilings featuring exposed beams, oversized windows, stained concrete floors, and decorative touches from local artists Ronald Shaw, Rory MacKay and Tommy Morrison. gratowpb.com
Belgian and French expats Marlene and Eric Boyé, the husband-and-wife team behind the popular Mad Fresh Bistro, where their “no-ketchup” policy gained national attention, expanded their culinary footprint in Fort Myers last fall with the opening of Azure. Executive chef Joe Pittman, who trained at Culinard in Birmingham, Ala., whips up classic French dishes like coddled egg, coq au vin and ratatouille, using indigenous ingredients. The menu rotates with what’s in season. With a color palette befitting its name, Azure has a blue ceiling, blue-tiled bar, and blue votives on every table. Crystal light fixtures conjure the luxurious experience of dining in France. But fear not: Service doesn’t move at the leisurely pace favored abroad. azurefortmyers.com