Manuel’s Bread Cafe: French Bistro in North Augusta, South Carolina

A French-born chef blends the best of Southern culinary specialties with his European training and background at Manuel’s Bread Cafe at the main crossroads of Hammonds Ferry, a planned development in North Augusta, South Carolina.

Location: 505 Railroad Avenue #100, North Augusta, South Carolina

Menu: With its location near the state line between Georgia and South Carolina, you might expect Southern favorites with a twist. However, the twist at Manuel’s Bread Cafe is elevated with vegetables and herbs grown practically on the premises combined with elegant preparations.

Breakfast is fancy at Manuel’s. This is a place to have such things as Shrimp and Grits, Creme Brulee French Toast or Eggs Sardou for your morning meal.

Lunch offers special soups and sandwiches, along with unique salads you are unlikely to find elsewhere. Salmon Cake Salad, Pan-Seared Trout Salad and Duck Confit Salad, to name a few.

For dinner, cheeses, poutine and charcuterie shine in the appetizers category. Boeuf Bourguignon, Lamb Chops, Pheasant and Steak au Poivre are standouts as entrees.

Beautiful homemade cakes are on display as soon as you walk through the door, so there’s no doubt you’ll want to save room for dessert. With at least a dozen varieties, your favorite is bound to be included. Imagine a list with hummingbird, Elvis, amaretto almond, chocolate peanut butter, red velvet, carrot and grasshopper cakes, Oreo or chocolate chip cheesecake or a decadent creme brulee from which to choose.

Thoughts: Manuel’s Bread Cafe has a prominent location in Hammonds Ferry, the planned community along the Savannah River. Blue Clay Farm is included in the overall plan, as well, and Chef Manuel Verney-Carron oversees the operation of the farm. He views it as “a sustainable community vegetable garden with a French flair.” Ornamental flowers, herbs and vegetables from the garden are incorporated into the cafe’s menu every day.

The cafe can be found at a commercial intersection where several tree-lined streets of attractive homes with inviting front porches and tiny yards converge. Hammonds Ferry is pedestrian-friendly where neighbors can visit easily and residents can walk to beauty salons, ballfields, restaurants, jogging/biking trails, greenspaces and the river. Manuel’s is relatively-small, but with the outdoor dining area and central location, it fits the vibe of the community perfectly. Inside there are cozy corners, and you’re likely to see a vintage black and white movie playing on a wall, which lends to the neighborhood bistro atmosphere. It’s a natural gathering place.

Chef Verney-Carron was reared in St. Etienne, France near Lyon. He has a master’s degree in hotel and restaurant management and worked in several restaurants in Europe before coming to the United States in 1994. Before opening Manuel’s Bread Cafe, he worked as a French chef at The Willcox, a famous historic hotel in Aiken, South Carolina, known for hosting the movers and shakers of South Carolina. With his combined skills as a chef, baker, farmer and businessman, continued success at Manuel’s is virtually guaranteed.

Price range: Breakfast or brunch entrees are $9.95-15.95. Lunch items are $4.95-14.95. At dinner, starters are $4.95-25. Salads are $9.95-14.95, and entrees are $20.95-49.95 for Steak Poivre for Two.

Connie Pearson

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