Sunday, August 2, 2015

The Ice Plant & Sea Oats Caffé – St. Augustine, FL


Last weekend was my friend Maddie’s bachelorette party in St. Augustine.  Her maid of honor Tessly’s family has a cute beach place up there, so we spent the weekend relaxing at the beach (and unfortunately getting very sunburned!) We enjoyed some pretty great food while we were there!

Tessly had the place all prepared with cute buckets of goodies for all of us and some incredible cupcakes from a local bakery (I need to find out which one…)

The forecast said it was going to pour all weekend, but we lucked out and got some nice perfect beach weather. 

Saturday night, we headed for an early dinner at The Ice Plant – a new local bar and restaurant.  Since they don’t take reservations and it’s such a popular spot, we decided we’d rather just eat early than chance waiting a few hours for a table.

The design reminds me of a blend of Ciro’s Speakeasy and the Oxford Exchange.  The building was adapted from an old ice plant (which is how it gets its name…)  Back in the 1920’s, the large crane that sits over the bar used to pick up enormous blocks of ice to be broken into small pieces and sold to shrimp boats.  They have managed to retain the vintage factory feel, but upgrading it to today’s popular industrial modern design. 

In keeping with the “ice plant” tradition, they hand carve their ice each day from large blocks of slow frozen filtered water into specific shapes depending on the drink you order.  The cocktails are a bit pricey, but impressive.  I would much rather spend $12 on a really fantastic drink than $6 on a rum and coke I could make myself.  You can tell that they take price in crafting their drinks just right – and the presentations were very pretty too. 

The waiters dress like they belong in the 1920’s – our waitress had a vintage looking apron with cats printed all over it.  She must have really liked cats because I got a cute kitty drawn on my receipt later. 

My Briar Rose cocktail was fantastic – with sherry, bonal, lemon, peach & blackberry jam, and mint.  I know most everyone enjoyed their drinks too, but the Kokomo cocktail was way too strong, even after the bartender watered it down with some club soda. 

For appetizers, we started with some soft pretzel bread, served with beer cheese fondue and dijonnaise dipping sauces.  The bread was actually a bit sweet and denser than a normal pretzel, coated with coarse salt. 

We also ordered a side of their hand-cut truffle fries for the table, served with a house ketchup and malt vinegar aioli.  They were topped with freshly grated parmesan and were delicious!  

For my meal, I had the valbreso feta gnocci – served with confit tomatoes, summer squash caponata, pine nuts, and wild oregano.  The most popular entrée that night was their half pound grass-fed Georgia beef burger with bacon-chive aioli, lettuce, tomato, onions, and their house curried pickle. 

My gnocci was really great – but I probably shouldn’t have eaten the whole plate.  It was a pretty generous serving. 

We made a stop afterwards down the street at Scarlett O’Hara’s bar – which I thought was a bit of a disappointment after having such incredible drinks at the Ice Plant.  We ended up heading back to the beach place since the long day in the sun had worn most of us out. 

The next day, a few of the girls had to head out early, but the rest of us went to brunch at a little hole-in-the-wall breakfast place called Sea Oats Caffé.  It was in a shopping plaza, and we lucked out that a table was just leaving as we walked in, because there weren’t a lot of seats. 

They had dozens of pancake flavors (some sounded really interesting like the chili chocolate lime and the jalapeño bacon cream cheese).  I ended up getting one of the specials, French Toast made with slices of angel food cake and topped with berries.  It was definitely more like dessert than breakfast, but it was really amazing. 

Our server was very friendly and the restaurant had a calm beachy atmosphere – it felt like we were down in the Keys.  Every time someone opened the front door, a pick strummed the guitar hanging above.  It was the perfect laid-back way to end our beach weekend.

The Ice Plant is located at 110 Riberia St, St. Augustine, FL 32084.  They are open 11:30am – 2pm Tuesday – Saturday and 11:30am – 12am on Sunday – Monday. 

Sea Oats Caffé is located at 1075 A1A Beach Blvd, St. Augustine, FL 32080.  They are open 7:30am – 2pm every day. 

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