This just in, lovely people--I have a new favorite nosh spot in town, and I know you are going to love it. George Artisan Bakery & Bistro, from it's exposed brick and marble surfaces (I have yet to see that combo go wrong...) to its artisan bread and pastries, coffee, and "South meets South" themed fare is guaranteed to steal your heart the way it has mine. Keep reading if you would like to hear more...
For the past few summers the way to my heart has been pretty simple--a chilled glass of crisp rosé. (I know, I know, #yeswayrosé) When I walked into George Artisan Bakery & Bistro a few weeks ago to do some research for an article I was writing, Luba Lazi, hostess extraordinaire and wife to Chef George himself, read my mind. After introducing herself in her slight Russian accent she headed behind the bar while exclaiming “Let’s start with rosé!”
Don’t have to ask me twice.
As I sat down at the lovely marble counter Luba, who curates the wine list at George, explained to me her summer special. a flight of three different rosés. I took sips of each one, all remarkably different, but, to my surprise, loved the fuller-bodied yet still nice and dry Mas Carlot Rosé the best.
After the flight Luba poured me one of her favorite concoctions, aptly named the “Luba’s Favorite”—champagne poured over fresh strawberries and ice and served with an iced tea spoon. “To eat the champagne soaked strawberries with at then end.” She explained, smiling.
The simply but elegant cocktail is popular in the South of France, a place which hugely inspired Chef George when creating the Provençal-style menu for George Artisan. In his own words, his style is all about “highlighting the freshest ingredients, not hiding them.”
Luba and George, who both worked in New York City before moving to Pensacola, exude passion for what they do and their attention to detail is exceptional. Everything about George Artisan is hand-crafted—from the food to the space, and their “South meets South” theme is foodie genius. It’s all about the experience, and they take good service seriously.
“I consider it an honor anytime anyone walks into our restaurant.” Chef George humbly remarked.
Luba insisted that I try the Buttermilk Vanilla Bean Panna Cotta, which proved to be divine. Not something I would normally think to order for myself (total choca-holic), the panna cotta is flavored with real vanilla bean, as evidenced by the slight grittiness of the flecks of vanilla. The custard is bathed in fresh grapefruit juice, which keeps it from being cloyingly sweet. I took a bite, and another, and then before I knew it I had cleaned the dish…that good. The perfect little “something sweet” to cleanse the palate.
After drinks (and dessert--woops) Chef George came out with a slew of his favorite summer dishes in tow, including homemade burrata, tuna niçoise, seafood salad, and beef carpaccio.
The burrata immediately captured my attention, with it’s thicker, pillowy outer layer, which enveloped a delightfully creamy and soft oozy center. Such a step above the typical mozzarella capresé.
“Burrata is one of those things like iberico ham and foie-gras—a real specialty ingredient.” Chef George mentioned, after explaining how they make the burrata in-house.
The dish, completed by a medley of heirloom tomatoes and greens, drizzled olive oil, aged balsamic and cracked pepper on top would make for a fantastic light summer lunch. In fact, I felt like I had been transported to the Cinque Terre after my first bite. One can dream...
The beef carpaccio, a perpetual favorite of mine, was also delicious—topped with shavings of parmesan, tomatoes, peppery arugula, flakes of sea salt, and a drizzle of rich olive oil.
How cool is that wine display?!
Needless to say, I was one happy girl. As we finished chatting and nibbling Luba remarked, “Pensacola is interesting. There are a lot of people who are well educated and well traveled, who know good food. We have just given them a place to satisfy that.”
…This little foodie could not agree more. Next time you are downtown Pensacola make sure to stop by George Artisan Bakery & Bistro, whether for an expresso and almond croissant (which just made the #1 spot in InWeekly’s 100 Things to Eat + Drink This Summer issue), brunch, or a delicious lunch. It’s a great place for a day date, or to take friends from out of town whom you want to impress with all that Pensacola has to offer. Also, if you hustle over early in the morning on the weekends you just may be able to snag a freshly made baguette for dinner that night. Everyone set their alarms for tomorrow morning!
George Artisan Bakery & Bistro, 1123 W. Garden St, Pensacola, FL (850) 912 4655
What is everyone up to this weekend? Hope it is a great one!
P.S. All opinions are, as usual, my own.
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