Fine Brunch for Easter Sunday in Jacksonville/St. Augustine
We're heading up to visit a friend next month who lives on the southern side of the greater Jacksonville area. We'd like to take him to a top-notch, no-holds-barred brunch anywhere from Jacksonville down to St. Augustine. Any suggestions?
Ice sculptures and cheesy (pardon the pun) omelette stations not required -- great, high(er)-end food is. Price is not an issue, and as the weather should still be really nice, neither will driving long distances.
I have done the requisite homework, and see that BB's, Bistro Aix, and La Parisienne have all been mentioned in other threads. Are these as good as it gets? If so, where would you go? Accept my warmest appreciation in advance for any advice; unfortunately, my gastronomic knowledge of that area goes no further than the American Cafe at the Landing during the drunkfest otherwise known as the Florida-Georgia game.
95 CORDOVA report:
We pushed up our visit by a week, and ended up at the Casa Monica this past Sunday for brunch. The price per person was $36.00 and included one mimosa and orange juice or coffee.
Overall, we had a good experience and would come back again for brunch. The restaurant is very-well appointed and very comfortable -- not stuffy at all. The dining room is separate from the buffet room, which I thought rendered the affair a little more upscale (not having to see/hear omelette-making is, IMHO, always a plus). In addition, there was live music which complemented the mood beautifullly (upright bass and a guitarist).
The service, unfortunately, was spotty -- the maitre d' was very professional as were some of the servers, but the younger servers (especially ours), including those working the buffet line could benefit from some more professionalism. (Yelling across the room: "Hey, 'Fellow Server', is that 12-top done eating so we can start breaking down? Everybody else is already on dessert! Ugh. How much longer?") Our server, I suspect, also, had the all-too-common brunch server mentality: "They get their own food, so I, like, just have to check in with them twice: at the beginning and when I drop off their check." (I know because I fell prey to it once or twice when I was a server.)
The food, for the price, was about average. Of course, it was better than a typical $20.00-$25.00 buffet, but then again, it should be: it was $36.00! The seafood selection was very good, and the only food reason I would go back there for brunch would be the stone crab claws: absolutely wonderful. The stone crab alone carried the day food-wise for me. It was very nicely-presented, very fresh, and most importantly, never-ending. I had enough for 4 or 5 people.
Bottom line: stone crabs + nice ambience = future return visit.
Before you make a final decision consider the Reef at Vilano Beach. It is just north of St Augustine on A1A. It is right on the ocean with a spectacular view that is visible from almost every table. I have been for brunch twince this year and is was wonderful. No ice sculptures, but great selection of food.
Noice - the name of the hotel is Casa Monica - all others parts of Windsor's post are completely accurate, though. That's the place you'll want to contact.
It's been years since we've been, but it's nice to hear that the Sawgrass Marriott still does a wonderful job with the buffet on Sunday mornings. The view of the course out the back window is pretty spectacular, too. We'll have to try that again sometime soon, Marc.
Thank you very much to all for the suggestions. We were more inclined to head to St. Augustine, so it looks like I'll be calling the Casa Monica Hotel today.
I'm confused, though: is the Casa Monica the same Santa Monica metioned by Windsor? If so, are you both referring to 95 Cordova? Thanks again.
I will second the Casa Monica Hotel in St Augustine - Go hungry and expect some wonderful options. they serve all the typical breakfast items as well as carved roast of beef, excellent seafood selection and a desert table to die for. We haven't been in about a year but expect about $30.00 per person.
Whenever we want to go to a nice brunch we head for the Sawgrass Marriott. The views are wonderful and the food is top notch. You may also want to check to see if the River City Brewing Company is offering a bruch on Easter. They often do have a brunch on special holidays; last year my kids took me there for Father's Day and it was great!
95 Cordova in the Santa Monica Hotel in St. Augustine is open for brunch. It is a wonderful restaurant. Although I have never personally been here for their Sunday brunch, I assume it would be excellent.
The Sawgrass Marriott in Ponte Vedra Beach has a nice Sunday brunch buffet complete with the ice sculptures and omelet station along with prime rib, seafood etc.