Jacksonville, Florida has many great eating
places so for a new restaurant to raise the standard, it has to
be really special. The Kitchen on San Marco does just that. It
opened in April 2015 and has been thrilling gourmets and casual
diners alike since. A friend and I attended a pre-opening dinner
there and were impressed with the quality of food and service.
|Antonio making sure we are taken
care of well
Our server, Antonio, immediately made us
feel at home and promptly brought our wine, a nicely chilled
Riesling, and a
cheese plate to get us started. The fine cheeses were a
precursor of the rest of the meal. Well thought out and tasty.
The Aged White Cheddar was from Beecher's Dairy and the Asher
Blue came from Sweet Grass Dairy, a family farm in Thomasville,
GA. Both places specialize in artisan cheeses.
Executive Chef Ryan Randolph grew up
long before it was the new dining catch word. He was born and
raised in Sweetwater, Tennessee to a farming family. His early
education working on a farm drew him to a career in cooking.
Chef Randolph honed his
culinary skills in Chattanooga
where he worked as a sous chef at Hennen's, Alleia and St.
John's Meeting Place. He had great tutorage here from
James Beard award-nominee
Chef Daniel Lindley. Chef
Randolph says he plans to use "as much local products as
|Chef Ryan Randolph
Our appetizers proved Chef Randolph's
point. What could be more local in Florida than seafood.
|Oysters Rockefeller, pretty and
We sampled the Oysters Rockefeller with
charred spring greens and a unique creation chef Randolph
devised, Pickled Florida Shrimp served with a Comeback Sauce and
micro greens. For our salads we tried his Salted Roasted Beet
Salad served with whipped goat cheese and pine nuts and drizzled
wiiht a vinigerette dressing and Florida Baby Greens with soft
boiled eggs, shaved radishes and croutons and topped with a
buttermilk herb dressing.
By now we were wondering if Chef Randolph
could keep up his perfect batting average with the main course.
My friend had the Steak Frites, a perfectly done hanger steak
with their house fries and some bacon mayo. I had the
Bouillabaisse San Marco which is actually shrimp and grits. It
was dressed up way beyond the run of the mill shrimp and grits.
The shrimp were accompanied by a healthy mixture of clams mixed
together in a heady sauce and the grits was stone ground Anson
Mill Grits. Yup. Chef Randolph had hit a home run for both of
|Chrimp and Grits Chef Ryan's
Did we dare sample dessert after all that.
Sure. Why not? Once again we decided to share our culinary
treasures. We opted for the Crème Brûlee with caramelized local
honey and an unusual treat called Ricotta Fritters served with
some Florida citrus jam.
Food doesn't get any better than this. What
doesn't come from Florida comes from nearby states. Like the
Anson Stone Ground grits for Ansen's mill in Colombia, South
Carolina where owner Glenn Roberts prides himself on "fresh
native stone-ground organic ingredients milled from new crop
Another supplier is
Benton's Smokey Mountain Country Hams in Madisonville,
Tennessee. Celebrity Chef John Malik had this to say about
Benton's, "Benton's is perhaps the most famous, most sought
after bacon and country ham producer in the United States."
The caliber of the Kitchen on San Marco's
suppliers partially accounts for the quality of the food Chef
Randolph produces. You won't find "grown in China" on his
There is another reason behind this
restaurant's phenomenal dishes. Kitchen on San Marco is owned
by Culinard, the Culinary Institute of Virginia College.
It will provide valuable real life experience for Culinard
students and grads. Talk about a Win Win situation!
Eve Markowicz, general manager says, "We
plan to offer the residents of Jacksonville a new casual lunch
and dinner spot, post-work drink location and an exciting menu
of inventive gastropub fare."
That is just what you will find at Kitchen
on San Marco so check it out soon.
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