The Perfect Bite
St. Johns Magazine's exclusive reviews of Local Restaurants by Local Foodie Lori Allen
by Debbie Gaylord
“We are lucky to be standing here,” said the woman next to me at the Reef. “This place could have been destroyed by the hurricane but magically it is still here, intact”.
My husband and I were at The Reef for the famous Sunday Brunch and I had been thinking the same thing. It was the first St. Augustine restaurant we visited since the storm and as we drove down A1A, lined with rubble and buildings with orange x marks, we were saddened but grateful to see the familiar ship-like exterior of The Reef.
What could be finer on a Sunday morning than escaping for a little day date at a St. Augustine (Vilano Beach) icon. The Reef, known for its casual elegance, is welcoming for families as well as those who wish to linger and enjoy leisurely dining experience with an unmatched view of the sea. We arrived around noon and we were able to get a seat on the patio on this perfect fall day. The downside of patio dining is that we couldn’t listen to the lovely live music inside.
If you haven’t tried Sunday Brunch at The Reef, save up your appetite and expect to spend a few hours devouring some of the best food in town. (And don’t plan on eating dinner later – you’ll still be full). We began with a Mimosa for hubby and a glass of champs for myself and these were magically refilled by our sweet server whenever their contents dipped below halfway.
I started with the chef’s creations, including datil pepper chili, okra and tomatoes, Asian braised short ribs, andouille sausages and peppers and baked manicotti. Stand-outs were definitely the smoky flavor of the datil pepper chili and delicious goodness of the Sriracha spiced cheese grits.
Next up was the chilled salmon with capers and onion, cooked to perfection, followed by the carving station with a delicious roasted beef, very tender and spice encrusted, with a mild horseradish sauce. My husband loves his omelets so he enjoyed a made to order omelet. Although we did not try it you can order Eggs Benedict from the kitchen as well.
We then decided to go to the sweet side and shared some excellent Belgian waffles and cheese blintzes with a light orange zest. We had to go back again to have a few more blintzes because the cheese filling was that good.
Lest we not forget the seafood station including crab legs with fresh drawn butter & jumbo shrimp. There was a lovely salad station and extensive cheese offerings, including blue cheese & brie. There was literally everything you might be craving. I tried to space it out so I could have a nibble of everything but I had to skip the salad offered simply because there was no room and I wanted another Belgian waffle!
I plan to return to The Reef on a Sunday morning in the near future with all my out-of-town guests as well as in town friends to enjoy another Sunday morning at the beach. So grateful The Reef was spared by the storm.
On our way out we purchased a St Augustine Strong T-shirt *The shirts are available at any SAIRA restaurant and proceeds will benefit families severely affected by Hurricane Matthew. Check here for a list of restaurants. www.staugustinerestaurants.com/
What you need
$37 per person
$15 kids 12 and under
4100 Coastal Hwy, St Augustine, FL 32084:(904) 824-8008
St. Johns Mag
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Lori Allen is a local who moved from the Boston area to attend Flagler College and never left. She is a family person that loves the beach, football, working out and finding new places to try. Her love for food comes from her northern background and her love of cooking as well as meeting new and interesting people. She has never met a stranger nor has she ever been afraid to try an intriguing place. (Check out all her reviews on stjohnsmag.com)