On a recent Wednesday evening, I had dinner with my mother at Four Seasons Bistro. The weather outside was as rough as the traffic on A1A, but warm smiles and comfortable environs awaited within. Michael and Stephanie Walden have created a family-owned oasis in Yulee, a beacon of light in a long stretch of big box stores and chain restaurants.
The kitchen at Four Seasons is an open design, and from the front door we saw smartly dressed chefs and service staff moving gracefully about preparing meals with the care and precision you might expect from a well-run family establishment. We were seated and introduced to our server right away, and fresh baked ciabatta rolls were delivered with house-made pesto. As we looked at the menu, some long-time local friends came in behind us and let us know that this is one of their favorite places to dine.
While we caught up, we ordered the Caprese Salad and White Bean, Sausage, and Kale Soup, two of my all-time favorites. Despite the season, the Florida grown tomatoes were vibrant and fresh. The fresh mozzarella, basil, and balsamic reduction were light and refreshing, in stark contrast to the warm and hearty soup, which combined creamy cannellini beans and piquant Italian sausage in a delicious broth with fresh kale. The rich flavors of both dishes were complimented by a cabernet sauvignon from Francis Ford Coppola.
A salad course came out before our entrees. A Caesar salad was tossed in a velvety homemade dressing with a perfect balance of anchovy and garlic. The house salad was served with fresh vegetables and a fantastic peach vinaigrette that was equal parts sweet and tart and awesome.
The dinner special this night was a marinated Greek Chicken with orzo pasta, olives, and feta. The dish looked amazing coming out of the kitchen, but mom was thinking about the steak and I was really looking forward to the Pasta Rustica. The filet mignon came perched on a foundation of roasted garlic mashed potatoes with sliced vegetables and draped with a marsala sauce and portobello mushrooms. To compliment the filet, a 2015 Il Bruciato Italian blend was poured.
The Pasta Rustica consists of grilled chicken and shrimp tossed with penne pasta, spinach, and mushrooms in a rosemary garlic sauce topped with mozzarella cheese and broiled until bubbly. The rosemary is subtle but transformative with the roasted garlic, and both danced on my tongue when combined with a 2016 Meiomi chardonnay. The shrimp were perfectly cooked and the chicken juicy, but the sauce was really the star of the dish. Paired with the chardonnay, the creamy sauce and pasta were set alight on my palate.
We finished our dinner with a beautiful crème brulee and shots of Lambrusco. We were full from dinner, but couldn’t resist the cool, creamy crème brulee with its warm, crunchy caramel. In talking to Michael, he pointed out some of the early bird specials available throughout the week, which got me thinking about the lasagna I’d seen on the menu, and I knew I’d be back soon. Four Seasons Bistro is open Tuesday through Saturday for lunch and dinner. It is located at the intersection of SR 200 and O’Neil Scott Road near Lowe’s.