Great food, awesome tunes, FRIENDSHIP!
Thinking about a road trip to St. Augustine for a first time experience at the St. Augustine Amphitheater with Gainesville Lunch Out Blog Image Editor Erica Corbett to see rising singer-songwriter Leon Bridges, dinner with my daughter Jana and her husband Chris Heller and their children Penelope and Leo has literally been all I have been thinking about for the past few weeks.
Add on top of that information that I am finally going to the G.A.S. Full Service restaurant to give their Jalapeno Popper Burger a try. The Food Channel's Bobby Deen call's the Jalapeno Burger the "Grand Canyon of guilt." Last summer Chris sent me a link and an image of this deep fried orb of goodness and I've been thinking about it ever since.
Erica is a 15th generation St. Augustinine native whose ancestors settled our nation's oldest city. G.A.S. was also her selection for dinner since it was close to the Amphitheater and our entertainment venue for the evening.
G.A.S. is a hip, retro-modern, reasonably priced hot spot favored by the locals. It's worlds aw.ay from touristy historic district spots in so many ways. The retro theme may be kitsch and che.eky, but the menu is modern, updating comfort food with an emphasis on burgers. For those looking to be a little better in the health department, there's some divine tofu, marinated in mojo and grilled. As with most hipster spots these days, there's a very worthy craft beer list here.
G.A.S. has a varied menu of entrees, including "OFF THE HOOK" seafood, including a catch-of-day and shrimp. The red meat protein selection from the "BUTCHER'S BLOCK" are a rib-eye steak, flank steak, and a char-grilled double cut pork chop entrée, that really sound delicious. The "DINNER FARE" category of the menu includes six options with choice of a portobello mushroom with marinated tomatoes, provolone, basil with wild mushroom, and roasted garlic cream sauce.
The G.A.S. daily blackboard special was Fresh Flounder with Baby Asparagus. FOLLOW THIS LINK for a complete Gas Full Service menu with entrée prices.
With a table of six of us, counting, Penelope, and baby, Leo Heller, we went with two appettizers consisting of a plate of crudités with Pimento cheese spread, and the deep fried G.A.S. restaurant reuben rolls with corned beef, sauer kraut, Swiss cheese and Ranch dressing. The egg rolls were a nice choice. Split in half, the three full rolls were plenty for the four adults. Crispy, crunchy, with outstanding sauer kraut flavor, these deep fried belly bombs hit the pre-meal spot, slathered in sauce.
The pimento cheese had me thinking Elvis all the way, "thank you, thank you very much." Right out of the refrigerator, the cheese spread on the crackers made this southern boy feel right at home.
Being the manly men we like to think we are, Chris and I selected the Jalepeno Popper Burger: A half pound burger stuffed with cream cheese, cheddar cheese and grilled jalapenos, topped with lettuce, tomato, and onion for dinner. Chris choose some really yummy looking French fries. I opted for cole slaw as my side order.
Erica and I chose the sharing route and she enjoyed half of my J. Burger and chose the Blackened Flounder and Baby Asparagus menu board special (image at top of this feature).
Jana went the veggie route and selected the Veggie Cuban Burger with Mojo marinated tempeh, topped with Swiss cheese, sauteed onions, Cuban mustard aioli, dill pickles on a pressed bun.
Conversation subsided as we devoured our fabulous pre-show meal. Over heard at the dinner table:
EATING AT THE G.A.S. FULL SERVICE RESTAURANT in St. Augustine brought a small sense of pride to this St. Augustine native's heart. The service from the minute we walked in was warm and accommodating.
Davis, the son of the owners, was ready to seat our group and suggested we take up more room rather than less so that we wouldn't feel crowded or crowd other customers, which is not often the case with restaurants that have a smaller dining area and look to pack in as many people as possible into their space.
The food was fresh and I loved that there were plenty of healthy options to choose from that accommodated the palates of young children as well as the health needs of carb-counting dieters like the GLOB Master.
The restaurant boasts a large wine and alcohol menu that was more reminiscent of the West Coast rather than the East Coast yet still has many local options. It was nice to have a selection of craft beers on tap as well as interesting options in bottle or can. Our server, Lindsay, was happy to provide tastings of anything before we decided on a refreshing yet subtle Strawberry-Lime Abita.
My favorite food of the night was the appetizer of Reuben Rolls. While decadent, I was able to savor the taste of two of the six that arrived on a large plate without feeling full. This appetizer was a delicious take on an old favorite.
The main course was light and flavorful. I choose the catch of the day, Flounder, which was perfectly cooked. I ordered it blackened but had the option of fried or grilled as well. It came with two sides of my choosing: I picked asparagus and creamed spinach.
Overall G.A.S. is a restaurant perfect for a night out on the town and a treat out with young children and family. I will be returning to enjoy other entrees off of their extensive dinner menu.
- Erica Corbett
The Jalapeno Burger was good. I admire Chris 'both handing' his half pounder and eating it with burly, real-man gusto. I attacked my burger with excitement , and a knife and fork, and was pleasantly surprised the jalapeno peppers added just the right amount of heat to a very juicy, tasty red meat protein. The gooey-ness addition of the two cheeses added a sublime deliciousness, as the cheese melted onto my plate encasing the burger fall-out for additional, enjoyable bites.
The flounder Daily Special would be my choice of the best entrée of the evening. The fresh flounder was cooked perfectly and the blackened seasoning was magical, adding much character to the flounder filet palette.
Dessert was shared. We actually ate dessert after our multi course meal! The desserts are made from scratch every day and ours was a Caramel, Sea Salt Brownie that was a creamy, almost pudding like chocolate brownie, a mountain of whipped cream with dollops of caramel and chocolate sauce on the side.
OMG GLOBers! What a way to end an extraordinary meal with a table full of very special folks.
Up and coming R & B star, Leon Bridges, brought the packed St. Augustine Amphitheater alive with a standing room only crowd of dancing-in-the-aisles music lovers. The back-up band was tight: the dual lead guitars impressive. Leon Bridges reminded me of Mick Jagger the way he was all over the stage eliciting assistance from the audience in a very fun, sing along way. This artist has the music chops to go a very long way GLOBers.
"I don't like to write flashy soul songs," says Bridges in a Billboard interview. "I'm writing from the heart, stories about family and truth. I just want people to see a genuine person."
What an amazing show of a very talented singer songwriter.
Erica said it best as we walked back to our car after a magnificent show: "I want to thank Jana and Chris for having dinner with us and for the gift of the tickets," she said still aglow with a fabulous evening. "Please tell Jana she was right, the show was incredible, and I feel so lucky to have had the chance to see Leon Bridges in such a great, intimate venue."