I’m starting to think Mario and I should just pick up and move to Riverside/Avondale, since we seem to end up in one of the hip little ‘hoods every weekend. Although it’s further from my dream of a beachfront condo, apparently it’s where much of the good food in Jacksonville is hiding. One of our new favorites is ‘town, one of Jacksonville’s subscribers to the farm-to-table movement. I love the open design of the restaurant, which allows you to watch your food being prepared at the kitchen bar.
Our first experience there was for brunch one unseasonably warm & sunny December morning. Mario decided to try the buttermilk pancakes (with raspberry sauce & orange-scented whipped cream), and I couldn’t pass up the lobster benedict (jumbo lobster meat, grit cakes, lemon hollandaise):
Mario thought the pancakes were the best he’d ever tasted. This is a bold statement from him–pancakes are arguably his favorite breakfast food, and he LOVES breakfast. They were good–fluffy with a light crunch around the edges, and almost cake-like. I ordered them myself on our next brunch visit. The lobster benedict was heavenly. I liked the textural contrast of the creamy/crunchy grit cakes since everything else on the plate was fairly soft. And really, how could you be mad at that much lobster?
After 2 brunches, we decided we needed to get back to ‘town for dinner. The bread at ‘town is worth a mention–the small roll topped with coarse salt and rosemary came a with cranberry/Marcona Almond butter accompaniment. Both were fantastic. I was jonesing for some oysters, so we ordered the fried oyster appetizer (black pepper aioli and seasonal pickles) and for entrees, settled on the steak frites (not pictured) for Mario, and the seasonal fish (tilefish) for me (asparagus, mushrooms, golden potato, shallot confit, Verjus sauce):
The fried oysters were great, and the black pepper aioli was an interesting accompaniment. I liked the addition of the pickles, which added a welcome bit of acid to the oyster and creamy sauce. I absolutely loved my entree, though more for the sides than for the fish. The fish was touted as having “a taste likened to crab or lobster, since it feeds on crustaceans,” and it was buttery, but nothing special. The mushrooms and potatoes in Verjus sauce, however, were outstanding. The salty/sour Verjus sauce was SO good and I worked to sop up every bit of it with the veggies. I also liked that the asparagus was crisp, not limp. Yum! Mario quickly demolished his steak frites and particularly enjoyed the obviously fresh-made fries.
We’ve experienced nothing but friendly service on our visits to ‘town, and I only wish it were closer so we could dine there more often.