When creating a new dish at Johnny D's, every detail is considered. I enjoy creating food that is not only dazzles your taste buds, but delights each of your other senses as well. Each dish is presented beautifully, after all, we eat with our eyes first. Textures are always taken into account as i believe a skillfully prepared dish is never to be one note. Each bite, each ingredient should stand out on its own, whether it be lending a crunch, sweetness, a bit of spice, freshness or creaminess. Although, each dish on my menu was carefully crafting, I do have my favorites. Did your favorite make the Chef's Choice list?
Chipotle Bacon Skillet
The Chipotle Bacon Skillet has it all! At first glance, it is beautiful. Once tasted, you realize this dish offers more than just beauty. It checks all the boxes, texture, taste, heat, freshness, and hardiness.
We start by chopping up bacon with some house pickled sweet tea jalapenos, add a few sliced herb seasoned mushrooms, and allow the flavors to meddle on the grill. Next, three eggs are added, scrambled together, and sprinkled generously with shredded cheddar jack cheese. Once melted, the scrambled eggs rest over crispy home fries and are drizzled with my chipotle sauce. This is served with guacamole and an English muffin. As you can see, this dish has it all... It’s beautiful to start, has the savory bacon, umami from the mushrooms and kick of heat and crunchy texture from the jalapenos. The creaminess from the chipotle sauce and the guacamole come in at the end with freshness and a bit of acidity to balance the dish. The home fries and English muffin bring a hardiness to the dish that leave our guests full and happy.
Churro French Toast
I am a French toast lover. When the time came to create the menu at Johnny D’s, I knew the French Toast had to be something we make in house. I wanted the bread to bring flavor, texture, and hardiness so the dish. I had searched for years for the “right bread” to use, in the end it just had to be house made. With my background in baking, the recipe to the perfect Challah Bread was just a few test batches away.
The churro French toast is to me a perfect dish. The color, texture, presentation, and taste are all pleasing. We start with soft, thick slices of hand cut house made Challah Bread. The bread is then dipped in a vanilla custard filled with scents and flavors of butter, brown sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, vanilla, and a few other spices to truly create a unique combination. Grilled to a beautifully golden-brown color, it is then tossed in my signature Churro Seasoning. This seasoning is blended with flavors of juniper berries, cocoa, and maple. It is finished off with a drizzle of fresh, house made, cream cheese icing and garnished with fresh strawberries. The magic of the Churro happens once the syrup joins the fun. The churro sugar starts to melt from the heat of the bread and when combined with the cream cheese icing, the syrup creates a sauce that truly has a unique and delightful flavor. The pop of fresh sweet and sour from the strawberries rounds out each bite, creating happiness for your taste buds. I hope you enjoy this dish as much as I do!
Pork Belly Benedict
The Pork Belly Benedicts creation came about as I was preparing to participate in a local event here in Myrtle Beach called the Trio Dinner. This event is a fundraiser for the local culinary program which features local chefs paired with two students from the Culinary Institute of Myrtle Beach. Each chef is asked to showcase two dishes and enter one for the competition. The event is a great way to give the students some hands-on experience but let’s face it, us as chefs, can be competitive. The pork belly was served with fried crisp over a potato hash, topped with a poached egg and hollandaise sauce. The guests of the event absolutely loved the dish and the flavors of the pork belly. There were rave reviews, and I thought the guests at the restaurant would enjoy the Pork Belly as well.
Being new in town and with Pork Belly on breakfast menus being relatively new to the area, I decided to keep this dish a bit simpler. I knew that the flavor and texture of the Pork Belly could stand on its own. The pork belly itself is marinated in my signature BBQ rub and a BBQ sauce, which was created exclusively for this dish. Once marinated, we braise the meat in the oven for about 2 hours until an internal temperature of 140 is achieved. Sliced and placed back into the juice until service, the pork has ample opportunity to capture all the flavors.
Once ready to serve, the pork belly is tossed in a hot fryer to caramelize and crisp all the sides. It is then seasoned with our signature all-purpose seasoning and served over top a fresh crispy oversized English muffin. I pair this with poached eggs and drape with hollandaise sauce. To finish the dish, we add a pop of color using a sprinkle of paprika and parsley. As with all our benedicts, they are served with our delicious stone ground grits and a dollop of fresh house made whipped butter.
Red Velvet Waffle
The Red Velvet Waffle is nothing short of a Masterpiece. A heavenly indulgence, once tasted, its memory is hard to forget. When I began planning the menu for Johnny D’s Waffles, I wanted to create a waffle that would leave a lasting impression. A waffle so indulgent, that when you take that first bite, you feel the urge to put your fork down and savor the experience.
When the time came to plan the menu for Johnny D’s, I drew inspiration from those flavors that would bring you back to a core memory. Flavors that are not only satisfying in the moment but have a way of transporting you back to a memory or experience. The red velvet batter is one of those flavors for me making the creation of the Red Velvet Waffle instinctual. I knew that if prepared correctly, the memory of the Red Velvet Waffle would be forever engraved in each guest’s mind. Developing the recipe for the Red Velvet Waffle, I blended that perfect Vanilla & Chocolate Cake batter ratio with my waffle batter. Creating a waffle that is decadent in every way because each batter brings its own flavor and texture. At first bite, noticing the light chocolate flavor, that blend of the three batters bring a unique crumb and each bite finishes with the taste of that unique waffle flavor. As if this is not enough, each perfect Red Velvet Waffle is accompanied by a light, creamy, cream cheese icing that is drizzled overtop. Our icing is made in house, starting with blending the butter with sugar until smooth, light and fluffy. Tons of cream cheese is then added to the mix, along with some vanilla extract and a pinch of salt. Once all the ingredients are blended, they are whipped to the heavens, leaving a soft, light, and perfectly creamy icing that is perfect for drizzling.
Chipotle Chicken Sandwich
If you are looking for my favorite sandwich, don’t look any further than the Chipotle Chicken Sandwich. The flavors, combined with the textures, put this sandwich ahead of the others for me.
We start by preparing the chicken breasts with our signature All Purpose Seasoning and oregano and braise in the oven in its own juice. Each breast is then sliced and laid on the grill to brown the edges of the chicken and topped with pepper jack cheese. We then grilled tomatoes seasoned with our signature seasoning and oregano, until warm, bringing out the sweetness of the tomatoes. Once the tomatoes are ready, we begin to layer the sandwich, with the tomatoes, the grilled chicken, adding our house pickled onions for that hit of acidity, freshness, and sweetness. Bacon is then placed, adding that salty pork flavor that can be tasted with every bite and my house made Chipotle Sauce.
Each bite brings me such joy, the combination of chicken and bacon is timeless, adding the sweet tomato, crispy onions, and the creamy chipotle sauce, rounds each bite, leaving you wanting more.
Eggs, Grits, Link, Toast
You know those days you just want that simple egg breakfast? Call my opinion impartial if you would like, however, I feel like we make the best. Even with something as simple as eggs, grits and links, there are details that need to be addressed. One of the first tasks I had creating the menu for Johnny D’s, was learning how to make a good bowl of grits. As a New Yorker, I did not grow up eating grits, something I am still trying to move past. I absolutely love grits, and knowing I wasted so many years not eating them makes me a bit sad. I have been working on catching up since.
When preparing our grits we use a combination of yellow and white stone ground grits. Grits produced right here in our state’s capital, Columbia. Adluh Milling Company has been making grits since 1914. Owned and operated by a local to Columbia family, I knew it was the perfect choice for Johnny D’s.
The grits are prepared every morning in water, kosher salt and our signature all-purpose seasoning. Yellow and white grits are stirred in as the water comes to a boil and simmered slowly until cooked through, butter is swirled in to finish. All of our eggs served at Johnny D’s are brown eggs. Given the yolk a deeper and brighter color, bringing a richer taste to the palate. Over the years, I have cracked many eggs and I have found that brown eggs are generally fresher in taste and appearance than the average white egg. When deciding on a breakfast meat, I am partial to sausage links. We proudly serve Hormel Natural Label, for all our breakfast meats. The sausage links have a great texture when fried, leaving the skin intact and golden brown. Each bite lending a great texture accompanied by a slightly sweet, yet salty peppery taste, rounding out the grits and the eggs. Lastly, I enjoy two slices of buttered sourdough toast. Sourdough has a unique flavor, that transports me back to culinary school when learning how to make sourdough. I still remember the smell of the back shop. The dish would not be the same without the distinct taste of the sour dough. Breaking the yolks and bringing in some grits with each bite of the sour dough allows me to create the perfect bite. The peppery taste from each bite of sausage lingers in the best possible way, rounding out the experience. I never feel disappointed in this simple egg breakfast.