The Perfect Bite
St. Johns Magazine's exclusive reviews of Local Restaurants by Local Foodie Lori Allen
by Local Foodie Lori Allen
Just a guy who likes to cook
So today I’m going to take you a little bit out of the 210 area but well worth the short drive. The place is called Ned’s Southside Kitchen off of US1 south, Saint Augustine. Ned’s Southside Kitchen is like an upscale diner. It is not fancy and there is even a cozy counter to dine at like you would find at other diners. But unlike other diners this place even has a drive thru for those that love home cooking and want to enjoy it in your own home without having to make it yourself! Ned is longtime St. Augustine resident Ned Pollack ~ the genius behind the Malaga Street Depot and Gypsy Cab. But if you ask him, he'll say he’s “just a guy who likes to cook." Funny story was that he was driving down from North Jersey looking to settle somewhere in the south. Ended up picking up some Nuns that needed a ride to St. Augustine…and the rest is history.
Being a Flaglerite (someone that went to Flagler LOL) and on a college budget it was a rare treat to go out to dinner but once in a while we would make it out to a nice dinner and I would always get what is now called the Dixie chicken. They take the chicken and pound it out thin then stuffed it with fontina cheese (mild and smooth) roll it in seasoned bread crumbs, pan fry it then smother it in mushrooms with a brown wine type of sauce(Probably similar to marsala but not so winey). This dish has been around for as long as I can remember and even with its cheese and delicious sauce it’s so light. I have no idea how he does that!
For an appetizer try their fried cheese Spedini. This is a little gold mine of fried melted cheese, covered in bread crumps topped with this homemade garlic butter that is chilled but starts to melt the minute it hits the hot cheese. Every bite is decadent cheesy garlicy wonderfulness. Along with a little somewhat surprising fruity salsa, this puts your average cheeses sticks to shame!
Then there are their salads, huge and plentiful. I had the roasted veggie goat cheese one…Yup that’s right roasted veggies and tons of goat cheese. The veggies are so thick, well-seasoned, grilled and hardy that you don’t even miss the meat. And then topped with their homemade dressing it’s a mouthful of flavor that’s for sure! Their house salad dressing recipe came from a farm hippie who brought it down from up north made with red wine, olive oil, nutritional yeast and garlic. Ned said his chef emulsifies it (Emulsify means to combine two ingredients together which do not ordinarily mix easily. The force of beating is used to combine these ingredients.) This brings it all together to make it so light yet creamy and really full of flavor.
My son loved their kid’s meals. I was so surprised that everything he got was homemade…even the meatballs! I had to have a bite just to check it out and it was big in size and seasoned so well you didn’t even mind eating them without the sauce(how he prefers them). They have really good fried shrimp for the kids too, fresh not the frozen popcorn kind. He loved it!
They have daily specials just like you would get most diners, BBQ Brisket, Mojo Pulled Pork, Salman Scallop Provencal, Scallop St Jacque and Spaghetti and Meatballs but all with a little gourmet twist which makes it fun for us fellow foodies. And the best part is that you don’t pay the gourmet prices!
So my very favorite thing I have to get here every time I come is their escargot. Ned has served it the same way since his first restaurant and I totally understand why he has never changed it! You get a big bowl filled with angel hair pasta, sautéed in garlic and a ton of soft juicy escargot. If you have never tried escargot…these are the way to go. I honestly think he would even put some of the French to shame with these!
Here’s a little tidbit on Escargot if you were ever afraid to try it…
One of the most famous dishes in French cuisine is escargot, a preparation of snails that can be served with a variety of sauces. Some Americans find the thought somewhat disconcerting, as snails are not associated with food in the United States. But when well prepared, their flavor and texture can be really good, and they have been enjoyed in many Mediterranean nations for centuries. While people who are not from France think that the word refers to a specific dish, in fact it is a generic term for edible snails. Snails can be collected in the wild or farmed for prepared escargot. Farmed snails are fed on a mixture of green and dried foods, with some producers preferring dried food because it is less messy than fresh greens. Some cooks also feed the snails herbs like dill to give them a delicate flavor. So give snails a try…you won’t be disappointed!
From their staff:
Ned's is a great place to eat and it's also a great place to work. Most of our customers have known Ned for a long time and the servers and staff at Ned's Southside Kitchen have been with him almost since day one...we might not all be family...but we sure feel like it!
NED'S Southside Kitchen
2450 US1 South St. Augustine, FL. 32084
St. Johns Mag
Assorted guest bloggers and foodies looking for the Perfect Bite
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)