Thanks to all for responding to my post in early August. We made our annual trip to the St. Augustine area where we stayed at the Surf Club in Palm Coast and I would like to share our dining experiences. This will be a long post. We stayed one week and visited a few favorites and delightedly found a couple new ones thanks to your suggestions.
Our one day drive from Cleveland to Bruunswick, GA, was rewarded with brunch on Sunday morning at the Jekyll Island Club Hotel. Pricey at $21.95 per person, but a magnificent feast in an incredibly beautiful setting. Brunch consisted of both buffet selections and a palette of three entres served hot to our table. Buffet items included arrays of sliced fruits, salad selections composed of baby spinach, romaine and mixed field greens, tomato and buffalo mozzarella, marinated asparagas, mixed grain, vegetable and seafood salads, smoked seafood and meat displays, pate, international and domestic cheese displays, homemade breads, pastries and danishes. The omelette station cnef prepared to order with choices of bacon, shrimp, salmon, sausage, cheddar and gouda cheeses, mushrooms, tomato, scallions, green pepeprs and salsa. Hot entres included a choice of beef tenderloin, breaded boneless chicken or mahi with pineapple salsa or a sampler platter of all three. Mashed potato and green beans accompanied the dish. The dessert buffet was a pastry chef's extravaganza. Just a few of the offerings enjoyed were pecan pie, chocolate dipped strawberries, caramel flan with strawberries, key lime pie, lemon tart, peach cobbler and chocolate decadence. Service was gracious and quality very high.
Monday - breakfast at the St. Augustine Lighthouse Park Restaurant - Bait and Tackle! Chicken Fried steak with eggs and hash browns and crab benefict (twi english muffin halves with a deep fried cab cake on each topped with a poached egg and hollendaise). No fuss but charming one room dining/bar and bait shop. Sits at edge of a pier with many cats gracing the wrap around porch with the lighthouse towering over it from across the road. Dinner at a favorite bar, the Matanzas Inlet -- located directly on the inlet of the Matanzas River and the Atlantic between Marineland and Summerhaven. Clever ice-cooler pitchers of Killean Red accompanied wings, coconut fried shrimp and a knock-out sausage ravioli with tomato cream sauce punched up with LOTS of cracked and datil pepper. We special ordered 12 bottles of the owners' (Joanie) datil pepper sauce -- a sweet, spicey and HOT concoction preserved in a recycled Grolsch bottle to take home for our use and as gifts to friends. Sunny afternoons on their back patio overlooking the Matanzas sipping on Seabreezes are the best.
Tuesday -- breakfast at Wahoo's on A1A just north of Crescent Beach. New owners, very charming wood interior, nice service but more attention needs to be paid to cooking. Over easy eggs too runny and fried potatos decidedly cold and rubbery. We went to Martin's Restaurant for dinner in Flagler Beach. WONDERFUL place. Yes, as recommended by the Board, the prime rib was enormous -- the full cut was $14.95 and a heartier, fall off the sides "king cut" ran $17.95. For apps we tried their new potato cream soup (hot and delicious), mushrooms stuffed with crabmeat and fried conch fritters. All abundant and delicious. Dinners included lobster stuffed with crabmeat, blackened mahi, ribeye steak. The atmosphere was homey, very cheerful and filled with the buzz of local funsters. This was our first time, but will definitely be on the RETURN list. A nice drive down A1A directly across the road from the Atlantic.
Wednesday -- breakfast at Greenstreets on A1A in St. Augustine Beach. Old favorite with a garden latticework motif. Fine pancakes and fruit combinations, but once again, the eggs were runny. Two of our party went to breakfast at the "Restaurant" in Crescent Beach with the turquoise blue treasure ship facade decorated with white christmas lights. This place is a must see - magic with your meal. Great place for kids and adults who need a good chuckle. Cheap eats, mystifying tricks and fake menus. You have to be there to believe it! We had a very late lunch at the South Beach Grille on A1A in Crescent Beach. Restaurant sits directly on beach with a good view of the ocean and dunes. Very casual indoor/outdoor eating. I had an excellent tuna salad in a spinach wrap accompanied by a spicy-hot pasta salad. My husband's fresh shrimp and fries were ok, but nothing special. The ocean view was not enough to make our "return list."
Thursday - Thanksgiving Day - started with a very early return to the Lighthouse Park Restaurant for more Crab benedict and CHicken fried steak and eggs. Dinner was EXCELLENT at our continuingly most favorite restaurant -- Hans' Beach House on A1A in St. Augustine Beach. Their Thanksgiving Menu consisted of Autumn vegetable soup, waldorf salad, roasted turkey, chestnut dressing, mashed potatos, yams, green beans and carrots and cranberry sauce. Others in our party delighted in grilled salmon, blackened grouper and a knockout spinach ravioli. We hardly had room for pumpkin pie and apple pie dessert and alas, no dishes to wash! From the outside, Hans' looks like a tiny ranch house -- inside it is very simple, cooly painted in soft colors with a fireplace filled with seashells. The food is spectacular and, I think, reasonably priced. Five of us had cocktails along with our meals and the bill came in under $120. I'm already looking forward to next year's Thanksgiving dinner at Hans'.
Friday began on a high note with breakfast at the Manatee Cafe on San Marco Road in St. Augustine. I had an excellent breakfast burrito composed of tofu, sprouts, sweet potato, avocado and cheese in a crisply fried burrito skin. It was accompanied by well seasoned fried potatos and was delicious as well as filling. I also enjoyed their banana/apple smoothie. My vegetarian cousin ordered spelt pancakes with fresh fruit. He was delighted with the Manatee's offerings. Dinner, however, at the Conch House was marginal. The "tiki island" atmosphere is great, beautiful river view, but the food was average at best. Very blah salad and dinner rolls. An exceedingly grissly "black angus" new york strip steak was very disappointing. However, their dessert offerings of a rich creamy key lime pie and mango raspberry cheesecake were out of this world. Next year, we probably will only stop in for cocktails and dessert.
Others in our party went to the St. George Tavern in the heart of the Ancient City historic district and to the Dunes Cracker House. They said they would return to both and particularly enjoyed the Tavern's reuben sandwich.
Again, thanks to all of you who responded to my earlier post. We couldn't get to all of your suggestions, but hope you found some of our picks interesting. I'll be querying again next year. This coming May I'll be in Amelia Island for the Shrimp Festival and will again ask the Board for Fernandina favorites.
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