Seafood Meets Soul Food at Grayton Seafood Co.
April 1, 2016 by Audrey Johnson
Grayton Seafood Company feels like it’s been here forever. And although the sign says "Since 1890", it's a relatively new local joint for Grayt food in Uptown Grayton. The downhome eatery also claims to have "tall tales". The stories may not be for real, but the food sure is.
Owner Kenny Griner needed a place in Grayton Beach where he could serve up tall tales and good food. He’s created a laid-back atmosphere where you’re welcome to sit all afternoon sharing stories over a cold beer, raw oysters, fresh fishes and local dishes you won’t find in every other restaurant in SoWal.
“We’re gonna specialize in local fish and fish that people grew up with,” says Kenny.
And Kenny’s just the man to do it. He’s owned Chet’s Seafood in Pace, Fl for 25 years, and he can rattle off species of fish faster than Bernie Sanders can come up with free government programs.
Mullet, while delicious, is unforgiving. That’s why when it’s in season, it’s cut twice a day to keep it fresh. Trust me, you only want mullet from somebody who knows what they’re doing. When Grayton Seafood has it on the menu, order it fried with cheese grits. Then throw your hands in the air, and wave 'em like you just don’t care.
The fish of the day changes every day, depending on what the fisherman in Pensacola and Apalachicola bring in. It could be black drum, or the highly underrated sheepshead. While they do have some pretty creepy…I mean highly specialized…human looking teeth, Kenny says, “All they eat is crustaceans so they’re sweet.” It’s what’s on the inside that counts.
Inside Grayton Seafood Co., you’ll find shiplap walls and ceilings. (Shout out to Chip and Joanna Gaines!) Vintage photos of massive hammerhead sharks, thick fisherman’s rope wrapped around rustic beams, and antique reel and rods give the place its charm. Galvanized metal light fixtures hang overhead, and old boat motors are affixed to the wall behind the bar that’s made from reclaimed wood.
Kenny loves Grayton Beach, and he looked for a couple of years to find the best spot to turn his idea in to a reality. He took his time to make it right, because, he says, “We really want to cater to the locals.”
That’s why you’ll find regional and local beers on tap, along with a nice wine list. Sunday brunch flows with Mimosas, Bellinis and Poinsettias. And you can get anything from Chicken and Waffles to a Fried Green Tomato Benny--fried green tomatoes and bacon on a homemade buttermilk biscuit with Cajun poached egg, creole hollandaise, and stone ground cheese grits. Get. In. My. Belly.
Any day of the week, slurp down a dozen raw oysters from Alligator Point, or have them baked Oyster Bubbafellea style, topped with collard greens, cornbread, bacon and tabasco. The fried okra would make any Southerner proud, as would the savory gumbo that’s as soul warming as the owner himself.
Grayton Seafood Co. is located in Uptown Grayton across from Fashionably Late Boutique. Swing by for “Grayt Food and Tall Tales” during lunch and dinner Wednesday-Saturday, and on Sundays for brunch. Sit inside or on the back porch under shady oaks strung with lights. While you're there, pick up the best beach t-shirt ever…seriously. Call ahead with orders and questions at 850-213-3683. Visit www.graytonseafood.com to see the menu, and share your tall tales on Facebook.