Charm, 'Golden Spoon' menu = 'A' road trip grade
By Lynn Dirk, GLOB Content Editor
Editor's Note: Lynn Dirk, a medical editor and communications specialist at the Brain Rehabilitation Research Center of the US Department of Veterans Affairs, is a devout enthusiast of all food things healthy.
Whenever the GLOB Master and I have gone out to visit Farmer Bubba Scott's One Step from Heaven Farm and Nursery north of High Springs, the 3 of us go to the Great Outdoors in downtown High Springs for lunch. The Great Outdoors is a GREAT place for lunch if you are on a road trip. In fact, it was awarded a 2010 Golden Spoon Award by Florida Trend magazine. Yes the food is good, but there's more to it than that, including being located in a restored, historic building that was built in 1895. Rest assured it has been renovated and, in 2005, the current owners gave the kitchen a state-of-the-art makeover.
The G.O. menu is varied and includes a southern classic the G. O. calls the Hook, Line and Sinker. This lunch time platter consists of local catfish, cheese grits, and baked beans. I'm not sure which of those platter items is the sinker.
Every time we G.O. (couldn't resist!), our lunch always includes the Beer Battered Black and Tan Onion Rings.
The Great Outdoors has just the right number burgers, salads, and sandwich of choices – not too many and not too few. Several of the menu items are named for local attractions, such as River Runners Reuben and the Ginnie Burger (that's a reference to Ginnie Springs for those who are new to the area). The burgers include a portobello with a meat patty or without for the vegetarians and there is also a turkey burger for the healthy-minded.
Since it will likely be on a weekend day if you take the road trip to the Great Outdoors for lunch, I'll mention that they have private labeled beers on tap: Tail-Gator Pilsner, Naked Ed Pale Ale, and Three Merry Widows
So the menu is varied and interesting and lists many tempting dishes. What about the food you ask? The Golden Spoon award is well deserved. The food is consistently good; each dish is generally special in some way, whether because of a gourmet ingredient or a special technique; and the presentation is always pleasing.
Farmer Bubba had the seafood platter and he was quite pleased. I got to taste everything and the shrimp and sea scallop tasted very fresh and were done just right – tender with a crispy coating that was not too thick and not too thin. The coleslaw had a creamy dressing and was plain old good – nothing fancy there.
The GLOB Master and I shared a Big Blue burger – so named because, you guessed it, the burger is loaded with blue cheese. and it was gone way too fast. We both missed the 2nd half but felt healthier for sharing. It came with fries that were definitely much better than the average. Long and, again, not too thin and not too thick.
OK, OK. Nothing is perfect. The onion rings always come with a barbecue sauce and, while the sauce is good, I think I would prefer a horse-radishy sauce or a hot sauce. I will ask for a substitution next time. Also, they use American cheese on a few sandwiches. I probably will never order any of those because when I THINK of American cheese, and I say 'think' because I haven't had American cheese in a LONG time, I think 'processed' and I avoid that experience at all costs. Some people, however, tell me they actually like it and I could see how it could serve as a comfort food since it was THE cheese at home when I was growing up.
The restaurant itself is VERY nice. Brick walls. Great photographs of local flora, fauna, and springs fill the walls and the extra high ceiling creates a sense of being outdoors with a comfortable and casual feel.
There is a bar area separate from the main dining area that has high tables for diners, and there's a table right next to the big plate glass window that fronts Main Street. That's my favorite table if I eat indoors. In the bathroom . . . check out the very neat accent tiles with animals.
The outdoor dining patio has a fireplace, a bar, and a stage for live musicians, but that's for entertainment during dinner, which starts early on Sundays (3 pm).
The staff have always been very friendly and relaxed, but efficient. In fact one time on a Saturday, the place had a lot of reserved tables but they snuck us in at a table that was in the sun. Then they let us move the table into the shade even though it could have interfered with the server's traffic flow.
If you are going on a road trip but can't go too far, you now know where you can G.O. At the Great Outdoors, you definitely get the feeling that the springs are around the corner and you are about to dive into some good food.
The Pluses and Minuses of the Great Outdoors
Great Outdoors + Indicators: Great ambience and the food is consistently well done.
Great Outdoors - Indicators: American cheese? Also, can get very busy at certain times.
Be the first to offer your GLOB comments, lunch photographs and opinions about High Spring's Great Outdoors. Please identify your opinions with a PLUS SIGN (+) for positive comments, and a MINUS SIGN (-) for your negative comments. - THANKS!
Latest from Mike S. GLOB Master
Celeste Monday, 26 January 2015 15:42 Comment Link
The Great Outdoors very close to me and I like the atmosphere, but just about everything I've ever ordered has been overcooked. That includes burgers, ahi tuna, wings, and any steamed or boiled seafood. Yes, the ambiance is great, but that's not good enough for mediocre food. There are better places in High Springs.
Jeff Alfred Thursday, 18 July 2013 10:28 Comment Link
Nice to see that you made it to High Springs! My mom will be thrilled. Great Outdoors is a good place - I've never had anything bad there.
Bubba Scott Thursday, 21 July 2011 21:04 Comment Link
I also live in the High Springs area and the Great Outdoors is not the only place to eat with atmosphere. It's a great place to meet, but High Springs does have some really good eateries. Just because it's bigger doesn't make it better.
Lytha Nicholson Tuesday, 05 July 2011 07:55 Comment Link
I am lucky I live in High Springs and it is the only act in town. Having said that, I love the outdoor atmosphere, the food has always been very good and staff friendly. When meeting out of town guests, I am proud we have this special place in town!
Bubba Scott Friday, 03 June 2011 18:20 Comment Link
I like the Great Outdoors feature. You're right Lynn, when the GLOB staff gets together at the G.O., it's always a nice break from the farm. Great atmosphere to just sit back and enjoy good friends and good food.