The Perfect Bite
written by Lori Allen
of My Wandering Fork
St. Johns Magazine's exclusive reviews of Local Restaurants by Local Foodie
Safe & Delicious Dining during Covid-19
by Lori Allen, Local Foodie
Who has the best take out? Isn't that the question of the year? With Covid-19 and social distancing Take Out business is booming and rising. But who does it better? I know for myself there is nothing worse than the anticipation of arriving home with a meal you have been dreaming about all day only to end up with a flavorless, lackluster soggy mess.
During this time my experiences have varied so I'll talk about the good ones. St. Mary's seafood offered up a family meal of 50 fried shrimp along with 4 sides for $25. We found that the shrimp were crispy and plentiful. They had the ingenious idea of putting tin foil in the Styrofoam container that not only kept the shrimp warm but crispy as well. Usually the Styrofoam steams up inside when fried hot food is placed in it. Then you get the condensation which causes the fried food to become soggy. Using tin foil decreases the condensation and so you arrive home with nice crispy fried foods. The sides are all placed in individual containers and you have some great choices such as creamy coleslaw, rice pilaf and I personally love their fried squash it’s a bit more but worth it! So what have you seen as far as take out fried foods? Are there any restaurants that follow this simple but great concept??
I think Italian places like Benito’s, Maggiano's and Vito’s just to name a few are pros at getting the take out meal right. Yes the containers are not microwavable but I think that it is so worth it! The food keeps warm longer in those tins and you can easily heat them up in the oven. To me heating the food up this way makes it taste as if you were sitting in the actual restaurant but instead you are sitting in the comfort of your home. So it’s a win win situation. Maggiano's even goes as far as putting the reheating directions right on the top of the containers. Brilliant!
I recently ordered Hurricanes on County Rd 210 Taco Tuesday to go. I was pleasantly surprised that they had taken the time to separate my tacos and put the sauces on the side so that when I got home I was able to reheat and add the sauce on top. I had the Baja fish taco, and banging shrimp taco. Both had just the right amount of heat along with a cool creamy sauce and the tortilla was soft and not soggy. At a discounted price you can’t go wrong. Great job!
Have you had any take out and were pleasantly surprised?
So how about outdoor dining or as us foodies like to call it Alfresco! Isn’t the key to dining outdoors is to provide us with a safe environment as well as delicious food?? I have been searching and researching and have found a multitude of places that advertise that they are taking precautions, here just a few.
Bartram Walk is a great place to head to for outdoor dining because you have several options and you know we all like options.
Iggy’s Grill and Bar (104 Bartram Oaks Walk #101, Fruit Cove, FL 32259) I found that the servers all wear masks and use disposable utensils and cups. Their fried shrimp is always great and they have a really nice grilled Sea Bass that is worth a try as well. Their drink specials are cold and refreshing!
Moon Dog Pie House-(116 Bartram Oaks Walk, Fruit Cove, FL 32259) has a great covered outdoor area and for me one of the best slices in town. The slices are huge, crispy on the bottom, cheesy on top and the dough is so good you actually WANT to eat the crust. These are the foldable kinds of slices, come on New Yorkers you know what I'm talking about! I also love that you can get one plain slice and one loaded down with all your favorite toppings and it won't break the bank. We recently visited there and they let us take our beers outside on the walkway while we waited for our outdoor table. Talk about hospitality, we will be back!
Vito’s Italian Restaurant (116 Bartram Oaks Walk #101, Jacksonville, FL 32259) now has outdoor tables as well. I can't help but get their garlic aioli pasta every time I go! So garlicky and light it's one of the best in town. Add a glass of their Chianti and you have an I-talian meal to die for.
On an upscale note I noticed that Black fin also has dining alfresco that is a few doors down. So the area is just filled with choices!
Many waterfront restaurants have adapted Covid-19 ways of sterilizing, social distancing and mask wearing. So why not stop on by?
Caps on the water (4325 Myrtle St, St. Augustine, FL 32084) does an excellent job of keeping us safe. You are required to wear a mask upon entering as well as be temperature screened and their staff has been trained on the covid-19 sterilization process. The restaurant boasts of fresh local seafood cooked with both southern and Mediterranean flavors. I for one love their oysters and their fish dishes which are creative and so darn fresh you would swore the fish came right from their dock!
King Fish Grill (252 Yacht Club Dr, St. Augustine, FL 32084) follows the same rules and is located just under the Vilano Bridge so the views are amazing. Their sushi and shrimp and grits dishes are stuff with flavor. And with the chef being from New England you know their clam/seafood chowdah is Top-notch.
I have heard some good things about Culinary Outfitters located by the St. Augustine shipyards. The friends that have visited have raved about the crispy deviled eggs, seafood truffle pasta, smoked wings and lobster roll. I am looking forward to trying them out soon as they too follow the Covid-19 rules and have dining alfresco!
Al fresco (outdoors) is the word…So Go! Tell me where is wonderful?
You can reply to this article at www.stjohnsmag.com/the-perfect-bite-new or visit me on Instagram at #mywanderingfork I would love to hear from you! - Lori
St. Johns Mag
Guest blogger and foodies exploring local restaurants.
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)
Lori now has her own instagram page -check it out at mywanderingfork