BAKER — Traditional local southern cookin’ will meet Louisiana bayou fare and English “pub grub” when the former Mickey’s Grocery and Grill reopens next month as Hunter’s Moon.
Charles Gray, grandson of local pastor Cecil Head, returned to his hometown after 10 years in England, where he operated pubs in County Hertfordshire outside London.
Head, who was also an educator and general store owner, traded at the store, formerly Quentin Steele’s Grocery, that has stood on Mickey’s site for almost a century, Gray said.
“We’re going to have a general store like Mickey’s to serve the community,” Gray said. “The fishermen and hunters are still going to have crickets and worms and supplies.”
In the restaurant side of the State Road 189 business, fresh cooking is a priority, he said.
“It’s going to be open for breakfast, lunch and dinner. It’s going to be like the old Mickey’s in that respect,” Gray said. “The main goal is to make sure everything’s fresh and new and local.”
As Gray talked, Baker woodworker Don Brown of Don’s Designs installed rustic paneling made from reclaimed local wood. Much of the wood came from an old barn that collapsed further north of Hunter’s Moon.
“He’s been real good to us,” Gray said. “He’s a one-man show, doing everything for us in here.”
Gray found many similarities in local and English country cooking while living with his former wife, an Englishwoman, in her homeland.
Consequently, in addition to traditional local favorites and Cajun specialties, his menu adapts English fare to the North Okaloosa County palate.
“I’m trying to keep it to English stuff that is close to southern fare; the home cooking with vegetables,” Gray said. “Folks may not realize they’re eating something that’s English.”
The menu features pub classics such as bangers and mash — grilled sausages and mashed potatoes topped with a savory onion gravy — fish and chips, “and then we’ll ease in with other stuff,” Gray said.
“In wintertime we’ll probably do heartier food like shepherd’s pie,” he said. “Maybe we’ll be doing a Sunday roast dinner. That’s very traditional.”
Gray assured patrons he won’t offer some of the more unusual dishes for which English cuisine is known.
“I’m not going to be serving blood pudding or something like that,” he said, laughing.
Gray said he and his business partner, Baker resident Brian Bass, hope to open the store and restaurant May 9, provided state and local permits are approved.