February 2008

Sunrise Cafe

Author: Anne Feldman

Start Your Day with a Smile at Palmetto Bay Sunrise Café

Whether you are an early riser or late riser, this much is sure: Palmetto Bay Sunrise Café is a good way to start your day. With a friendly slogan “Breakfast Served All Day,” the choices are hard to top, “eggs all ways,” hash browns, fresh grits and deliciously generous pancakes, not to mention a whole section reserved for eggs Benedict. The Sunrise Benedict with avocado is my personal favorite; the fresh avocado paired with creamy hollandaise is just irresistible.

Open every day but Tuesday from 6 a.m. to 3 p.m., with delicious food, efficient service and a ‘feel good’ vibe, Sunrise Café has a loyal local following. Located in Palmetto Bay Marina, owners Leslie and Paul (a.k.a. “Stew”) Stewart, serve many a happy customer in the comfortably casual space, with counter seats, table seating, over-sized booths and outdoor dining on the deck. Tucked in the side corner of the Marina shops, space heaters and clear awnings warm the space while sunshine and blankets stave off the morning chill, with hands warmed by coffee and hot cocoa. The friendly, long-time servers, Debbie, Andrea, Linda, Maria and Karen seem to know everyone and what they need. It’s a fun spot with lots of action as customers come and go—great for people watching.

Over and above breakfast, Sunrise Café accommodates a variety of tastes, and Chef Stew keeps the menu fresh with additions and changes, “I put things on, take things off, but some favorites stay in the heart of our customers and I’ll make them on request, if I happen to have the ingredients,” he said. Blue plate specials such as red snapper with shrimp lemon and dill butter keep patrons coming back for more. And then there’s the Saturday breakfast specials, ranging from shrimp and grits to tenderloin Benedict—filet mignon on an English muffin with eggs and hollandaise. And let’s just mention that all strips and filets are hand-cut. Sunday’s homemade corned beef hash, served with frog legs, is so popular that the frog legs are often the first item to run out.

It seems there are quite a few favorites. “Stew’s known for his handmade pâté,” said manager, Pam Detert, “a specialty learned from friend, Richard, of Two Eleven Park, served with assorted fruit and cheese, capers, cornichons, red onions spicy mustard and toast points.” Paired with a Bloody Mary for a lazy Sunday brunch, in this easy setting you can read the newspaper, visit with friends, even bring your dog.

Crab cakes and a glass of wine or the daily soup du jour are quite nice for a light lunch or great starters for entrées such as the Potato Crusted Founder, Shrimp Provencal, Pan Seared Tilapia or Filet Mignon.

It’s a relaxed café with gleaming blond wood, open shelving, and nautical accents. Three to four chefs at a time work the stainless steel grill behind the long bar with an air of friendly efficiency and easy access to the kitchen. A carved mermaid floats serenely above the bead-board walls; the ship wheel steers patrons through the doorway and a series of roosters welcome sun risers, especially those who make it in for the true early bird special, from 6-8 a.m. Sunrise Café is a Hilton Head Islander kind of place: where else can you get Sunrise oysters, shrimp hash, and biscuits and gravy…. or maybe cheese grits, biscuits and a little something on the side.

It’s a Brunch Thing:
Meeting up with three of my girlfriends, Kelly, Janelle and Linley for brunch seemed like a good idea, and everybody was in at the first mention of eggs Benedict and Bloody Marys. Since it was such a beautiful day we decided to dine al fresco on the deck. Such a nice spot to see and be seen, we ran into a few friends and neighbors, did a lot of visiting and tried to make up our minds. After a birthday toast, Kelly started with the decadently delicious crabcake Benedict—two poached eggs on a toasted English muffin topped with the best homemade hollandaise ever. I seem incapable of ordering anything but the Sunrise Benedict with avocado, grilled red onion and sliced tomatoes. Birthday girl, Linley, had her ‘Eggs All Ways,’ sunny side up with heavenly hashbrowns, while Janelle and her daughter, Margo, went for the scrumptious pancakes and a side of fresh fruit, overflowing with pineapples, melon and strawberries. How happy we were—a great brunch, a beautiful day and maybe some shopping along the way. Weren’t there some little boutiques around the corner?

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