Amelia Island: 29 South, Beech St, Bonito, Moon River, Kofe Hous
Thought I'd share some of our dining experiences on Amelia Island, where we spent a gorgeous week-- can't wait to go back!
29 South, on 3rd Street in Historic Fernandina Beach, was awesome: creative, organic, delicious. We had the fried green tomato appetizer (the tomatoes, super crispy, were lightly stuffed with goat cheese and served with sweet red pepper jam); seared scallops; and snapper. The desserts were particularly inspired: banana beignets with mint chocolate chip ice cream and caramel sauce sound weird, but were great; coffee and doughnuts was doughnut bread pudding, baked in a latte cup so it was crisp AND eggy, with mocha ice cream--incredible. A good selection of wines by the glass tipped the scales: this was our fave of the week.
Bonito , also in FB, gave us the best sushi we've had in years (we live in a sushi wasteland, IMO), so good we went twice. The key was the very, very fresh seafood, although the service was also friendly and thoughtful. The space is kind of odd, with a bright, casual sushi bar in the front (fun people watching) and a dark, formal dining room in the back. Both serve the full dinner menu as well as sushi.
Beech Street Grill was solidly good, but not great--the flavors just didn't pop for me, and the dessert menu was uninspired. The wine list was just sad. They also do this weird "bread service" fuss: french bread with butter is "free", but bruschetta is an extra $1 per person. One dollar? When entrees are all over $20? Please. Maryland Crab soup, crab cake, Crab stuffed shrimp, and a creole seafood stew were all good, and portions were extremely generous. Atmosphere is a bit so-so.
Moon River is a very casual, bustling pizzeria in a strip mall on 14th at Jasmine staffed by a hard-working crowd of tattooed hipsters. They make a doughy pie, but it's good, with very fresh, gourmet ingredients.
Kofe Hous, in a new mall on Sadler, is a cool little coffee shop that roasts its own beans and is definitely worth a stop.
There were at least half a dozen places we didn't have time to try--quite the restaurant scene up there! We shall return...
Thanks to all who made suggestions.
We tried to go to LuLu's Bra and Grill (not a typo) mentioned elsewhere but they were closed. Wednesday appears to be the slow day that Fernandina restaurants close during the week. We were too hungry to walk up and figure out if they were still in business. We ended up at a disgusting Chinese place on Sadler - Great Kahn. My mom claims to have read a good review somewhere. That reviewer should be fired.
The next night we went to Brett's because we wanted to be on the water. Nice location and great food. Snapper and Mahi specials had good southern style preparations. But yeah, touristy. They also run Thyme which is on the Intracoastal Waterway.
After dinner at Brett"s we walked the waterfront and watched the sunset. Like a very small scale Key West island vibe. We walked down center to the Palace Saloon where Les DeMerle and his band were giving a sampling of the type of music to be played at the Amelia Island Jazz festival later this year 10/5-12/2008. http://www.ameliaislandjazzfestival.com/ Nice to see and hear some old Florida culture even if it was a little too "smooth" if you know what I mean.
The Working Cow ice cream shop across the street is really good.
If you take the ferry to Mayport and the beaches, check out Singleton's on the Mayport side. The steamed shrimp are local and excellent.
Many thanks for the post back after your visit - more often we don't get that from visitors. FB is a nice day trip from Jax, and your impressions have left some real impressions here for me. I can vouch for the Moon River Pizza in Jax, and it's pretty much as you describe in Fernandina. Sounds like we'll have to try 29 South.
Thanks for posting - My husband and I am trying to decide whether to go to Amelia Island for a quick foodie overnight getaway for our anniversary. Can you tell me if you considered eating at Salt and decided not to? How did you rule it out? It is at the top of our Amelia list but we are not confident that it's the right choice.
Salt is outstanding, had my birthday dinner there in Feb and we will be returning in two weeks for my wife's birthday dinner. We live on Amelia Island and are therefore very familiar with most of the restaurants. We moved here from San Francisco so are use to great food and Salt really didn't disappoint.
Moon River has really good pizza but the best of the island is at Arte Pizza on 3rd St in downtown Fernandina Beach. They have a wood fired oven and do outstanding thin crust pizza.
Other good places to dine are La Bodega, Espana and Brett's. A new place, Thyme, is very good, neat bar, piano player Tuesday-Saturday and pretty views of the intercoastal and the marsh. It's upscale Italian.
Amelia is a lovely place, come and have a great time.