Eat Like a Local at Grayton Corner Café
September 20, 2016 by Audrey Johnson
What started out as a cool café by five dudes on surfboards with beers has evolved over time into a family-run cafe. Owners Paul DiGiacomo and Bonnie Erin reopened Grayton Corner Café last year to the delight of South Walton locals - this time with a new location.
But the more things change the more they stay the same. Grayton Corner Café at its core remains a place where locals feel comfortable and visitors feel like locals.
“It’s an extension of your home, which in the old days that’s what Grayton was,” says Bonnie.
The open concept carried over from the old Grayton Corner Café. There’s no division between front of house and back of house. Paul took down all the walls to put in a counter so friends could talk to the crew in the kitchen and watch them cook. That’s where the café gets its charm.
Sounds of chopping, cooking, and chatting hum through the crescent shaped eatery. The aroma of fresh baked bread escapes as the door swings open. Lunch there tastes like home - that is if you’re lucky enough to come from a place with a great small town cafe.
Baskets of veggies stored in plain sight on tables throughout the café cradle butternut squash, russet potatoes, red potatoes, and ginger. Firm grapes and tomatoes and fuzzy kiwi and coconut find their way into the mix. A bag of oranges hangs from the pot rack. And that’s not even counting what’s in the fridge and growing outside on the patio. Yep, Grayton Corner Café has its own little sprout farm out back.
“At any time we have 60-80 species of vegetables in the house,” says Paul.
Glass cafe doors lead out to a great covered porch overlooking a pond with lily pads. Heavy ladder back chairs show no signs of toppling on the well-loved deck. That’s where you’ll find the organic sun tea. Nectar of the gods. Steeping in a giant glass jar; distorting the world behind me like a fun house mirror. Cold, delicious sun tea in a big cup with a straw. The little things in life are meant to be appreciated.
Speaking of appreciation, Brad Shankwiler is the man behind the method at Grayton Corner Café. The chef by day turns rocker by night playing percussion for his band The Courtyard Saints. Although everyone pitches in around the kitchen, Shank, as his friends call him, brings a fresh take to home-style cooking at the cafe.
"Without Shank we would just have good food, but he takes things to another level," says Paul.
The daily chalkboard special is the direct recipient of this creativity. While typically a meat and two-veg situation, the protein can be substituted for a vegetarian option. All sides are vegetarian.
“If we can make it vegetarian, we do,” says Bonnie. “The same with gluten-free.”
The mainstay Shrimp Salad Croissant is simple and delicious with mayo, cocktail sauce and dill topped with sprouts grown on site. Thursdays are theme days, focusing on a certain type of cuisine, like Mexican. And Fridays are for homemade dumplings. If you happen to stop in on Plum Nutella Ice Cream day, just skip straight to dessert.
Grayton Corner Cafe is located in Mystic Porte in Grayton Beach. The cafe is open Monday through Friday for lunch and a cold beer. Call 850-213-0401 for to-go orders, beach picnics and catering. For more information, please visit www.graytoncornercafe.com. For daily specials and updates on Plum Nutella Ice Cream, check out Grayton Corner Cafe on Facebook.