The Bunnery Bakery and Café has always held a special place in my heart. My weakness is bakeries. I love to seek out and sample the sweet, baked treats anywhere that I can find them. The Bunnery has been my downfall for many years now. Specializing in from-scratch, traditional baked goods, dropping by The Bunnery while shopping is very tempting. The café also has a full breakfast and lunch menu, as well as a coffee bar. However, the bake case is the way to go.
The Bunnery is owned by a husband and wife team, George and Pam Cross and has existed in St. Augustine, in some form, since 1989. The first location was across from The Castillo de San Marcos, but the business quickly grew. Now it is situated in a prime location for sightseeing and shopping- St. George Street. The Bunnery is open seven days a week, from 8am to 4 or 5pm. The breakfast menu is available until 11:00, then the lunch menu is served. Breakfast consists of the usual egg dishes, breakfast sandwiches, and pancakes. For lunch there is a soup of the day, salads, and sandwiches (hot or cold). You order at a counter and then serve and seat yourself, which unfortunately, is where I become disenchanted with The Bunnery.
As much as I love freshly baked treats, I have recently started to avoid eating at this café, especially during the weekends. During breakfast on Saturday and Sunday, the restaurant is so busy that the line for the counter is often out the door. Getting a table is a feat that demands James Bond skills. It is everyone for themselves. Parties can be seen hovering like vultures over a kill, coffee and food in hand, waiting for customers to finish and leave. If you have more than four people, getting a table is almost impossible. I have noticed that many smaller parties will camp out at the larger booths, ignoring the signs imploring customers to save these tables for four or more people. On my most recent visit, a couple and their dog were sitting at a booth for four. I would like to stress that dogs do not count as people when justifying a booth. I have spent many breakfasts huddling in a corner with my children, while my husband sprints to the next available table. When able to sit, I often feel forced to rush through my meal to free up the table.
Weekend lunch hours are less hectic, but then there is the problem of not being able to order off the better breakfast menu. If you would like to eat breakfast and enjoy your meal, I would recommend visiting at 8:00 am or on a weekday. Or, order their baked goods to go and find a beautiful spot around the historic district to enjoy what The Bunnery does best.
My family was in town this past weekend and we met at The Bunnery for breakfast. We met on a Sunday morning. We were a large party. I know better. We ordered several items from the bake case, which was bursting with delicious options. My parents decided to share an omelet. My children ordered custom smoothies. Several coffee based drinks were purchased as well. While my husband stalked through the café, on the hunt for a table large enough for six, I waited close to the counter for our drink order. Bakery items are given to you immediately upon order, drinks come out as they are made, and other food items must be picked up at the kitchen. I suggest you assign everyone a job so that your dining experience goes smoothly.
We eventually were able to get a booth and a table, which we guiltily pulled up to the booth to accommodate everyone. Soon after sitting, we were called to pick up the smoothies. The Bunnery makes smoothies based on about six types of fruit. They ordered strawberry mango and strawberry blueberry. My kids were very pleased with their smoothies. To the adults, they were very sweet. I suspect that they are made from frozen, sweetened fruit, instead of fresh fruit.
After the smoothies were made, we were called up for the coffee drinks – an iced coffee and two breve lattes. If you order a plain cup of coffee, you are given a cup to serve yourself. There are usually two flavored coffees along with more traditional roasts. If your drink is espresso based, you are making a trip to the counter. The Bunnery usually features some whimsical, seasonal espresso drink. It is usually sweet and delicious. The traditional espresso drinks are usually good, but the baristas can be a little inconsistent.
Our baked goods were passed around the table and enjoyed while we waited for my parents’ breakfast to be made. We ordered Pam’s Sticky Bun, George’s Cinnamon Roll, and Blueberry Boy Bait. All three were huge and very good. Pam’s Sticky Buns never disappoint. They have a generous amount of pecans and a sticky, caramelized sauce that permeates the roll. George’s Cinnamon Rolls are also an excellent choice. They are always soft and delicious. When ordered, the server at the counter will drizzle your cinnamon roll with as much homemade vanilla icing as you like. This was my first time trying the blueberry boy bait and it will be very difficult to order anything else the next time I visit the café. The Bunnery’s twist on familiar coffee cake was buttery, sweet, and had just the right amount of blueberries.
Unfortunately, after sipping our drinks and finishing off the bakery treats, my parents’ breakfast had still not been called out. I am saddened to report that it took 30 minutes from ordering to picking up their basic ham and cheddar omelet. By this point, I was beginning to feel very guilty for holding up two tables as I tried not to make eye contact with the patrons that were on the prowl for seats. My husband and daughter ended up leaving the restaurant so we could relinquish the little table. They spent the remainder of our family visit outside, while we remained in. Finally our number was called for breakfast. The omelet was simple and competently made, but not worth the stress of holding up the table. It was served with a drop biscuit and grits. The biscuit was absolutely delicious. Again, baked goods are what The Bunnery does best. The grits were pretty flavorless and I would not recommend them.
The Bunnery Bakery and Café is worth a visit, however you must plan wisely. Please be sure to order from the bake case; you will not be disappointed. If you want to order a hot meal, I strongly suggest to avoid peak hours – the “kitchen” meals are not worth the stress. As I ate last Sunday, I hoped the dog I saw sitting at the booth was a service dog; I also wondered why we decided on Sunday morning.
Writer Cassie Oborne grew up in the beautiful Gulf Coast city of Naples, Florida. She graduated from Flagler College, where she studied English and Secondary Education. After graduation, she and her husband made St. Augustine their permanent home. She has spent the last 16 years exploring and eating her way around the ancient city.