Amelia Island update
DAVID'S is a two month old restaurant near the old Beech St Grill. It is an ambitious place with the clear goal of elevating dining on the island. The owners have spent a lot of money renovating the place and i think they've done a smashing job. The bar is cozy but roomy and had a lone soprano sax guy playing light jazz which was just right (did I just say light jazz was ok?).
We had the amuse , tenderloin sliders, scallop "BLT" which was great, duck pot pie made with duck confit and petit filets with mushroom risotto....Cheesecake and cheese plate for dessert. Each was great. The risotto was just right..a rare thing. About the only miss was the lack of something sweet on the cheese plate. Forgivable. Wine list is on an iPad and not huge, but what I had was nice.
MERGE finally has a website but one still must call for reservations.
BEECH ST GRILL is gone. Word from waitstaff is that new owners ran it into the ground.
LE CLOS is still a great place. Reliably great bistro food.
CAFE KARIBO was a disappointment. It was a disorganized and grimy place when we visited. Apps were served after the mains. Cheeseburger was ok...fries good...tuna melt was skimpy and under seasoned.
Our table was made of old wood that had the finish stripped off. The boards had shrunk leaving big gaps that were filled with the crumbs of past meals. Ew. The floor was concrete that had had tile removed but the adhesive remained...just looked dirty. The flowers in a carafe were in murky water...gross. I know this place has a big following. I don't get it.
Things seem busier in a good way on the island.
DAVID'S remains a serious place with good food. Not cheap but good. Couple of minor misses on our last meal...risotto was a shade undercooked...the bananas foster wasn't made table side and had a lone banana and dense beignets. Still a fine place
LE CLOS still great.
29 SOUTH is a nice place. Better for lunch than dinner, I think. Dinner seems to overwhelm the kitchen sometimes. Tasty food in general.
MERGE has expanded and is still cooking great food. Still no website and no open table. Gotta cost them business.
A new place, AMELIA CITY SUSHI has opened in the shopping center down by the Ritz...the one with HarrisTeeter. Very pretty inside, friendly helpful staff. Sushi came out really slowly...really slowly and it wasn't a bit busy. Rolls were variable...one great , one a gnarled little thing...but tasty. There isn't much on the menu other than sushi, a couple cooked fish that seem an afterthought. And it isn't cheap, $18 sushi rolls seem excessive for what it was.
Amelia Island February 2014
Lulu's - saw a rec from Chowhound and this was spot on. The best shrimp po' boy I've had to date. Fresh shrimp, with just a little bit of coating. Cooked perfectly. and the flavor and the slightly toasted bun made this a delight. You can tell these people are true foodies. Lot's more places to try on the island, but will return here for sure.
Karibo - would never do it again. Burger was a mush of marinade mixed into the meat and then served undercooked and overworked. The waitstaff was polite, yet seemed scattered and unmanaged.The kids had pizza, which, I swear was right out of a box. Had the calamari/shrimp appetizer which was cooked well, but the dipping condiments were not good. My gal liked her lentil salad, but overall agreed this was a let down.
My wife and I just concluded a week in Amelia Island. First reactions? Lots to see, lots to do, lots to eat. Good people.
Blue crab caught in local waters is pretty special. Joe's Bistro does a superb job with their upscale crab cake.They also make the best shrimp and grits I've had in some time. Go for lunch, leave room for the Key Lime pie. Wash things down with blood orange mimosas. The wine list is very good. Service is pleasant and attentive. Chef will stop by your table to ask how you're doing.
All-in-all, this was the most appealing restaurant during our stay. The room is modest in size but the high ceiling, moulding, fans and thoughtful paint schemes put a smile on my face. We went back a second time to confirm initial reactions: it was even better.
Just spent the weekend on Amelia Island. I dined at:
-Espana--its as great as everyone says it is, go!
-David's-pricey but if you are looking for a more upscale ambience, this is the place. The food did not disappoint. I ended up dining solo at the bar, which is in a lounge where there was live music, and guests wandering in and out at different times of the night for aperitifs/digestifs. Bartenders Tristan & Benny took good care of me!
-Salty Pelican--recommended by the locals when I asked where the best spot is for raw oysters. Casual typical seafood bar/resto, overlooking the 'river' (in quotes because I learned on the Shrimping Ecotour that it is no really a river!). Serving local shrimp, oysters, so a great to go for both, which i did 2 days in a row for lunch. Nothing fancy, but good at what they do. Great spot for lunch.
I almost went to Salt at the Ritz for dinner the nite after David's---it would have been pricey, but I am sure it would have been good, as the locals even agreed.
This is island is a gem, I hope the dining scene continues to grow.
Another Amelia update...
DAVID'S and Le CLOS are both bustling, and deservedly so. Both serve great food done nicely. Reservations are a must at Le Clos. David's is big enough that you might find a last minute table, but I wouldn't count on it.
We visited a new (to us) lunch place, KELLEY'S COURTYARD CAFE. Busy, a bit cramped, but a nice feel all in all. The menu is varied and the service is fine. Great for a leisurely lunch.
PLAE was a big disappointment this time. The place was a fine dining place, but standards have slipped it seems. Servers were confused about the menu in a few instances, beer was served in warm glasses, meat served at the wrong temperature, grits were full of uncooked chunks (really!), fries were badly overcooked... bland sauces and a few other things of a similar vein. Taken one-by-one, no big deal, but taken together this looks like a restaurant with big problems.
A couple of recent trips to DAVID'S were just as nice. Marinated portobello/crab, tenderloin sliders and scallop BLT apps...duck pot pie, sea bass, Dover sole (flown in that day), petit filet mains...the cheese plate for dessert is gone but may return they say.
A quirk with their online reservations sometimes makes it look like there is only early or late availability (eg after 8PM). I called to question this and got a rez at the time I requested.
LE CLOS is always great. Get your reservation in advance. The place is small and fills up in advance.
BARBARA JEAN'S is a small regional chain of low country home cooking. Not haute cuisine, but a notch or two above diner food. For me it is great for lunch or casual dinners.