Comfort Food at a Comfortable Place
Two years ago, if we were to write about Pineda Crossing, we’d be writing about a place most know or at least know of — a local standout of 20-plus years, known for their crab cakes and steaks. But as Brevard has exploded over the past few years, more and more we find we’re telling new people of those not-so-obvious local places that they really need to try. Local color if you will and, if you’ve been, you’re on your way to being a local.
We talked to owner, Bob Popp as if we’d never heard of the place so he’d talk to us as he would anyone new to the area. Popp said, “We’ve been here for 22 years. This place used to be kind of a little dive, and it’s still kind of a little dive. But it was kind of a biker bar, kind of dingy, when we bought it in 1995. We worked on it for about a half a year, and opened up in 1996.”
Comfort food with a chef’s touch
“The idea here was to basically sell comfort food with the help of a qualified chef in charge, and that’s what we’ve stuck with for the last 22 years. We’re selling Midwestern hand-cut steaks and fresh seafood, and that’s kind of how we’ve made our business. We’re real fortunate in the fact that we have a Culinary Institute of America-trained chef, Chef Rand Morgan, and he has been with us for a little over 20 years,” Popp said. That helps Pineda Crossing with consistency, and it keeps their food as good as they can get it. They call themselves “The Casual Gourmet.” Popp adds, “That’s gourmet food without all the silly accoutrements that go with it.” They just make the best food they can out of the best possible ingredients they can source. Go for lunch, or go for dinner.
Pineada Crossing is “semi-famous” for their crab cakes. Chef Morgan grew up in the Northeast, so crab cakes have always been on the menu. They also serve exceptionally good steaks; a filet, a strip and a ribeye, along with the freshest seafood they can buy from Port Canaveral to Miami. Popp says the signature dishes that you’d want to ask for would be their Pineda sea bass, and the grouper nueces, which is a grilled grouper with a crab and shrimp lemon butter sauce. And then of course, the steaks. Popp adds, “The filet that we serve is a filet Oscar, with asparagus and crab meat and Béarnaise sauce.”
“A scotch and water kind of bar”
“We have a basic Scotch and water kind of bar; our clientele just isn’t interested in a flavored vodka. They’re interested in the same Scotch that they’ve been drinking for years. So we don’t have any fancy margarita machines. We’ve got a list of about seven or eight specialty drinks that are mostly martini-based drinks. We don’t go into the real fancy trends,” Popp says smiling.
“We also make a crème brûlée and a bourbon, chocolate chip pecan pie that’s really, really good.”
Have we made this abundantly obvious? Pineda Crossing should be mandatory dining within the first week or so of living on the Space Coast. If you’re already a local, this is regular required dining to maintain your status. ◆