Uniquely simple, laid-back and friendly, with an “old southern” vibe is the initial experience walking through the doors of Backwater in Downtown Melbourne. The ambiance of this breakfast and lunch eatery allows you to leave the thought of being in Downtown Melbourne behind with its cozy old Florida dark wood paneling, rustic aluminum ceiling, antique artifacts, mounted and stuffed ducks and livestock drawings. Backwater prides themselves on serving fresh, local ingredients in their southern inspired recipes, created by Executive Chef Michael Slintak. In fact, customers are in the know about where ingredients are procured due to the large hand-drawn illustration of Florida conveniently labeled where the ingredients used that day came from.
You have the choice of sitting at a high top table, the counter or a griddle table. The griddle table is where you cook your own pancakes, your way! Both the “create your own pancake” menu and lunch menu are available at the griddle table. The pancake menu offers four different batters: buttermilk, vegan/ gluten-free, whole wheat and seasonal. Oreo was the seasonal batter. Toppings are also available for a small charge each, such as chocolate chips, pecans, coconut, peanut butter, Nutella and fruit. Obviously, I was going to have to try the pancakes. Truthfully, the menu was so appealing I ordered three meals: buttermilk pancakes with coconut, shrimp n’ grits and C.H. Clarks pulled pork eggs benedict. I started my meal with a refreshing grapefruit mimosa garnished with sage. I should mention they have some unique mimosa selections that can be ordered by glass or carafe. Great brunch idea.
My buttermilk pancake batter came out in a blink of an eye along with the tomato bisque soup which was included as a choice of soup or salad with my shrimp n’ grits. The pancake batter came in a convenient, no mess squeeze bottle. Here’s were the fun begins as you can design any kind of cakes from small or large to even Mickey Mouse shape on your temperature regulated griddle in the center of the table. As they cooked, I dove into the aromatic tomato bisque that was semi-thick with a fresh tomato flavor and topped with parmesan cheese. The buttermilk pancakes were fluffy, moist and flavorful with a hint of vanilla. I topped them with real maple syrup, rather than the maple “flavored” syrup provided on the table, and I had no issue that there was an additional charge for the real stuff. My glass of grapefruit sage mimosas added a nice bitterness to round out the palate.
As I was cooking a couple more pancakes, this time with coconut sprinkled in the batter, two enormously portioned dishes came out and I said, “Oh yeah, I ordered that too, didn’t I?!” The presentation of both the shrimp n’ grits and C.H Clarks pulled pork eggs benedict was appetizingly beautiful. I could immediately taste the freshness of the local shrimp that was paired with a savory sofrito criolla sauce (tomatoes, peppers, onions and spices) over a course grit cake.
The C.H. Clark pulled pork eggs benedict is a dish made with their grandfather’s North Carolina pulled pork recipe poached egg, hollandaise sauce over a homemade biscuit and a side of home fries. The pulled pork was the kind that just melts in your mouth. This was a hearty meal. And both were certainly southern inspired cuisine with a flair.
My visit was mid-week at noon during the lunch rush and service was friendly and prompt and my orders came out correct. Backwater does tend to get really busy on the weekends (great place for a Sunday brunch) so you want to plan accordingly as they do not take reservations. One great feature is that Backwater offers something for everyone with different diet preferences/restrictions; vegan, gluten-free and meat lovers can enjoy a meal without any worries. Head over to Backwater to support a small “mom and pop” restaurant and for an old Florida, friendly experience with fresh, local foods.
1904 Municipal Lane
Melbourne, FL 32901
Prices: $11 - $15 per person