Offering a menu that changes daily, eat-in dining, and take-home meals, local caterer Tara Davis is sizzling with fresh ideas at the new Savage Skillet restaurant.
-story by Lisa Monti, photos by Ellis Anderson
A week’s worth of Savage Skillet breakfast and lunch menus are posted on social media at the beginning of each week. There are also Grab & Go items to eat in or take out and retail food items from Mississippi and Louisiana.
Another new twist is the pricing: the breakfast and lunch menus have two daily options, one under $10 and the other around $10.
At last Sunday’s friends and family feeding, the food coming out of the kitchen practically shimmered with freshness: Spring mix salad with citrus dressing, perfectly cooked flank steak with homemade sauce, wraps packed with pork loin and veggies, tangy-sweet tomato and bacon jam bruschetta and pulled pork topped with house-made pineapple salsa.
Everything we sampled - including the roasted fruit, amazing hummus and creamy pimento cheese - showed that Chef Tara and Savage Skillet are raising the bar locally on fresh menu offerings.
Chef Tara is from Hattiesburg and first visited the Bay area with her family. “I always loved it and intended to come back to the area when the time was right.” She went to culinary school in Texas where she cooked professionally and earned a sommelier certification. She’s also worked on farms, in vineyards and breweries, food trucks and high-end restaurants.
She eventually moved to Bay St. Louis in October 2016 and for the last two years has been in the catering business under the Savage Skillet brand. She intended all along to open a restaurant, she said, “and here we are.” The catering business operates alongside the restaurant at the corner of Highway 90 and Bouslog across from the Post Office. She has four full time and one part time employees helping her.
Breakfast at Savage Skillet consists of various tacos (a tortilla filled with breakfast ingredients ) and house-made salsas - plus some weekly specials. Prices start at $3 and go to $5.95. The lunch menu has two items, from $5.95 to $11.95. Recent selections were flank steak with a caprese salad and tomato-bacon jam bruschetta or Quinoa-shitake soup and plum-ricotta or buttermilk chicken bruschetta.
Savage Skillet stocks a cooler and freezer with prepared foods from $3 to $11. Items change weekly, but some are always available including soups, fruit salads, green salads, veggies, wraps and lasagna. The tasty variations of chicken salads also are always on hand.
The Savage Skillet name comes from Chef Tara’s philosophy that no kitchen functions properly without a big skillet. It also reflects a combination of her classical training and extensive experience with a love of off-the-cuff cooking.
But don’t look for anything deep-fried. “Everything you can do to food, we do it, we just don’t fry. It’s not my cooking style and also there are lots of places to get good fried food.”
1248 C Highway 90
Bay St Louis
Wednesday - Saturday
6:30 a.m. - 6:00 p.m.
Breakfast 6:30 a.m. - 10 a.m.
Lunch 11 a.m. - 2 p.m.
A new pub menu in the evening and new offerings for breakfast and lunch prove this restaurant's team is always open to fresh ideas.
-story by Ellis Anderson
Click to open larger versions of the new menus
For instance, debuting on the breakfast menu are Avacado Toast and Prosciutto Toast, joining the already popular cast of egg breakfast plates, frittatas, Pulled Pork and Grits, and Chicken & Waffles.
However, the biggest “new” at the Mockingird is the evening Pub Fare menu. It’s offered Thursday through Saturday evenings from 5pm until closing (during the Second Saturday Artwalk each month, the pub menu will start at 2pm).
Alongside the classic Mockingburger (still only $10 with homemade chips) and veggie Garden Burger, three different tacos take front and center stage. They're all served up on a special hybrid tortilla made in New Orleans from 60% corn and 40% flour.
The two meat versions feature pulled pork drizzled with homemade expresso barbeque sauce, and grilled chicken with the ‘Bird’s own pico sauce and cheddar, topped with sriracha sour cream.
The meatless variety is just as hardy, filled with Garden Burger makings. Order one taco for $3, two for $5 and three for only $7.
Can’t decide? Try a $12 taco and beer flight and you’ll get one of each taco, paired with three 5oz servings of local beers like Lazy Magnolia’s Southern Pecan, Chandeleur’s Freemason and Mighty Miss’s American Pale Ale.
If you’re just in the snacking mode, dive into the “still crackling” pork rinds fried up fresh in the kitchen. In addition, loaded French fries, pretzel bites and a meat & cheese board provide savory accompaniments to the adult beverages co-starring on the menu.
All drinks and house wines on the evening menu are $5, with pitchers of beer available as well ($15). Warm weather favorites are the Lushy Lemonade (spiked with vodka), Mimosas and the Mockingbird’s secret-recipe Sangria. The unforgettably named (and delectably tasting) Tequila Mockingbird is a mixture of rosemary honey, rosemary tequila and blood orange juice.
Naturally, coffee drinks rank high on the menu. A Bird Brew Martini blends cold brew coffee, vodka and vanilla. One of the most intriguing libations offered is an Irish coffee made with Jameson’s, Baily’s Irish Cream liquor and a nitrogen-infused cold brew coffee called Bright-Eyed Nitro.
According to the ‘Bird’s operation and marketing manager, Whitney LaFrance, the relatively new cold-drip product is made in Ocean Springs. The infusion process makes the cold drip taste creamier, without the addition of any dairy.
LaFrance and Mockingbird general manager Laura Hurt have both worked at the Mockingbird since it first opened 13 years ago, in August 2006. The two may be managers now, but regular customers still use their original titles: Coffee Goddesses.
“We’ve been here so long, the Mockingbird is much more than just a restaurant to us,” LaFrance said. “We have a really fantastic team too. Everyone [who works] here cares about the community and the people we serve.”
LaFrance said the café loves to change things up from time to time to stay current. Fresh ideas are sometimes offered by customers, but most originate from staff members. The entire team enjoys traveling and scouts out adventures in eating wherever they go.
“We all enjoy talking about new ideas we’ve found and brought back to the Bay,” she said. “It’s great watching those ideas skyrocket here at home.”
Lisa Monti's got the mouth-watering story on a new restaurant that's opening on Main Street this spring.
- from Lisa Monti's Notebook
Restaurateur Jourdan Nicaud, Field’s brother, said this will be the first restaurant the 23-year-old Field will be opening. It doesn’t have a name yet but “the goal is to open up around the beginning of April,” Jourdan said.
He said Field has been studying and working for the past two years in New York where he attended the Institute of Culinary Education and worked at the storied 11 Madison Park and La Nacional. Just this week Field worked with Jose Garces in the Iron Chef’s Philadelphia restaurant.
Jourdan Nicaud said the new restaurant’s steaks will be aged in house and hand cut and sell for $20 and up. Field is working on the menu’s specialty oyster recipes and Jourdan said he hopes to serve locally harvested oysters.
Jourdan owns Charred, a steakhouse/oyster bar in Ocean Springs, Bacchus on the Beach in Pass Christian and Biloxi, and Fill-Up with Billups breakfast/brunch restaurants in Biloxi, Jackson, Oxford and one opening next month next to his Hotel Pass Christian.
You can easily subscribe to Lisa Monti's Notebook blog on its home page!
C&C's Italian Grill, one of Bay St. Louis's most popular eateries, becomes C&C Farm to Table on September 3rd. Check out the new menu and find out why Chef David Dickensauge is giving the restaurant a delicious - and sustainable - makeover.
- story by Ellis Anderson
What remains is the award-winning chef’s dedication to fine food created from locally sourced ingredients. The new concept meshes seamlessly from another of the chef’s businesses slated to open a few blocks away in mid-September – the Ugly Carrot, an artisan juice bar and local produce market.
According to Dickensauge, all the food served in C&C Farm to Table will be produced within 100 miles of the restaurant. “Since we’re doing it with the Ugly Carrot, it made sense to change over the restaurant now too.”
“No large food purveyor will be delivering to this restaurant,” said the chef. “The food we serve will be all produced by local farmers. And all our seafood will be local too - not brought in from who-knows-where. Every dish will be made from scratch. We’ll be the only restaurant in South Mississippi to be 100% farm to table.”
While Dickensauge enjoyed the Italian theme of the original C&C’s, he said he felt confined by the menu. The new menu will change often, depending on what’s in season. The basic theme is Southern, but expect to see the chef’s regional spin on Asian, Moroccan, Greek and Mediterranean dishes as well.
On the opening menu, diners who love to sample many flavors will have 18 fascinating small plates to choose from, like Lamb Empanadas, Smoked Crawfish Boudin Balls and Duck Confit Beignets. Heirloom Tomato salad and Organic Mixed Greens are just two of the salad offerings, available with toppers that range from poached shrimp to grilled duck.
Sandwiches include a Pork Belly Reuben, Soft Shell Crab BLT and a locally-raised Wagyu burger (Wagyu is a type of cattle prized for its rich tasting beef). The “Big Plates” selections shine with Cous-cuos Crusted Local Lambchops, Cold Smoked Prime Rib and Cast Iron Crusted Local Catch.
Locals will be happy to learn the restaurant’s tradition of daily specials will be carried on.
Monday: Southern Style Steak Night specials
Tuesday: A Taco Tuesday where all tortillas are made in house by hand. Look for lamb, pork belly and smoked duck burritos.
Wednesday: Half price Small Plates, bottles of wine and cocktails.
Thursday: $25 three-course specials.
Friday: Steak night - $28 steak with locally-sourced twice-baked potatoes and vegetables.
Saturday: A different special each week.
Sunday: Single menu brunch and dinner available all day.
Happy Hour – Monday thru Friday, 3-6pm (at the bar only): Half price drinks and $5 for Wagyu burgers, flatbreads and small plates.
Monday: 4pm – 9pm
Tues. – Thursday: 11am – 2pm & 4pm -9pm
Friday & Saturday: 11am – 10pm
Sunday: 11am – 9pm
For the inaugural Farm to Table opening on Labor Day evening, diners will have choices of steak and pork chop specials.
“We’re really just returning to the original Cork & Cleaver concept,” says Dickensauge, referring to his original local in Gulfport. “It’s all about the ingredients and cooking food the way it should be cooked.”
The co-owner of the ever-popular Trapani's Eatery branches out into barbeque on the beachfront when Smokin' Jo's opens up in Bay St. Louis.
- by Lisa Monti
How does this sound for starters: Brisket Bay Queso (chopped brisket and queso atop homemade tortilla chips) and Bay Fries (waffle fries sprinkled with cheddar bacon pieces, pulled pork with secret sauce.)
The soft tacos can be filled with your choice of two meats (brisket, chicken or pork) topped with pineapple mango salsa with a splash of Sriracha and barbecue sauce.
Sides include mac and cheese, fried okra plus the standards: barbecue beans, potato salad, cole slaw and waffle fries.
Sandwiches are topped with homemade slaw, sliced Kosher pickle and onion. Pick from pulled pork, pulled chicken, brisket and a combination of two meats. There’s also a smoked sausage on a bun if that’s what speaks to you.
Meat plates - featuring pulled pork, a chicken quarter, sliced brisket, ribs or sausage - come with sliced Kosher pickles, sliced onions and two sides.
Ribs are sold by the rack, half rack or single rib. Pork, sausage, brisket and pulled chicken is available by the pound or half pound servings.
The kid’s menu has a chicken or pulled pork quesadilla and grilled cheese, each with one side.
The catering menu orders include meats, sides and box lunches to feed 20 people or more and whole Key lime pies. Sauce is sold by the quart. Delivery to the nearby marina will be available on opening day and to the downtown area by May 1. In true Bay St. Louis style, deliveries will be made by golf cart.
By the way, the pig mascot out front was named JoJo by the restaurant’s Facebook followers and is dressed for every holiday. It’s also prominent on the logo. “Everyone enjoys taking photos with her,” Trapani said. It’s all part of Smokin’ Jo’s philosophy. “It’s a fun concept with great food.”
A ribbon cutting will be held Saturday, April 21 at 4pm.
A popular coast business that cut its teeth in Bay St. Louis will open a new location soon on Main Street in Old Town.
- story by Lisa Monti, Lisa Monti's Notebook
“We have been looking for a space for almost a year,” Arzola said. “We have been keeping a watchful eye out and we were so excited when this spot became available. We are very grateful to the owners of Cuz’s for selling our pops and now we are able to have the space to open a full store.”
The new location will be like the ones in Gulfport and Ocean Springs. There will be seating inside at a long communal bench and near the front windows overlooking Main Street. Customers can try the 50-plus flavors always on hand plus have the option of dipping their pops in either dark or white chocolate or both.
The pops come in fruit, cream and indulgent categories, including fresh fruit pops, Oreo cheesecake and a few sugar-free options as well. They are all handcrafted in small batches with fresh herbs, fruit from all over the world and spices. The popsicles start at $3 and go to $5 for the indulgence creations.
Arzola said it’s fitting that the new store is opening on Main Street because Pop Brothers’ original customer base was in Bay St. Louis. The owners tested their icy treats on Second Saturdays in 2015, selling the popsicles out of a cart. “It’s where we realized our idea might work,” Arzola said. “It’s fate how this happened now.”
Things are looking up for Pop Brothers, which was recently featured on The Billion Dollar Buyer, the CNBC reality show, as well as the Cooking Channel series Beach Bites with Katie Lee. The owners just opened a store in Gulf Breeze, Fla., and the popsicles are sold in several locations in Texas as well as the Gulfport-Biloxi Airport, Stennis Space Center, the Golden Nugget Lake Charles and Murky Waters in Hattiesburg.
And that one cart that got the whole Pop Brothers venture off the ground at Second Saturday is available for rent along with several others. Arzola said they are popular for weddings, showers, corporate events, birthday parties and other occasions.
For more information, contact Shannon Arzola at (205) 382-7123 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Read more stories by Lisa Monti on the blog Lisa Monti's Notebook.
A popular Gulfport restaurant has moved to the first block of Main Street in Bay St. Louis: sneak peek on Thursday, July 13th and soft opening Friday, July 14th.
We've posted the soft opening menu below (look for the full menu later next week!)
- story by Lisa Monti
Cork & Cleaver
111 Main Street
Bay St. Louis
Soft Opening Bistro Hours:
(Chef David says that they'll be expanding hours as they get settled in.)
Sneak Peek, Thursday: 5pm - 9pm
Friday: 11am - 2pm, 5pm - 10pm
Saturday: 11am - 10pm
Sunday: 11am - 6pm
Italian Garden opened on October 14th, offering authentic Italian meals in a spacious Hwy. 90 location (828 Hwy 90). Lisa Monti introduces co-owner Giovanni Karelli and shares the menu.
- photos by Ellis Anderson
You're Reading the