Apr 08, 2020 04:53PM
By Tom Barrett
Photo by William Raser
Every now and then the stars align, good fortune rolls out before you, and doors swing open, and that’s precisely how I felt walking into Lagniappe recently with my two daughters for a lovely evening of food and family. Our hosts were long-time friends and Amelia Island restaurateurs Melanie and Brian Grimley. Lagniappe is the culmination of years of love and life distilled into the nuances that make special the spaces shared by friends, a place where the food and spirits reflect the wisdom attained only through living fully.
The girls were quite impressed with the decor and loved the beautiful fire-lit patio. They were happy as clams, and Chef Carey Todd made them feel right at home with some helpful suggestions. Lydia is easy to please: a nice steak, some fries, and to my delight, roasted brussel sprouts, and she is in heaven. Abigail, however, is another story. A vegetarian, she delights in pasteurized processed food-like substances and bristles at most things green. Chef Carey, rising to the challenge, promised a vegetarian plate she could not resist if she let him choose the contents. She agreed, but added a side of french fries, just in case.
One thing we all agreed on was cheese. Our first course was a delicious cheese board featuring four different cheeses with toast points, berries, jams, nuts, and honey. Abigail happily gave me a full report on each cheese, assuring me it would be perfect for the article. She found everything to her liking, and we left the board mostly empty.
While I received my ripened dairy dissertation, I was surprised by the chef with a seared scallop course. The dish was simple: two scallops well-seared and sliced in half horizontally, with a peach glaze, a few micro greens, and thin slices of chili pepper. The flavor was transcendental, whisking me to my childhood eating peaches canned by my grandmother from her pantry in Sopchoppy on the Panhandle. The sweet flavor of the scallop played perfectly with the zip from the chili and peppery greens. The glaze perfectly balanced the lively flavors for a spectacular appetizer.
Next our entrees arrived, first Lydia’s Steak Frites, a perfect medium rare, and for me, a steaming Bouillabaise full of shrimp and mussels. The showstopper was Abigail’s vegetarian plate. This veritable cornucopia of vegetarian treasures would satiate the most discerning meatless diner. The board was nearly a yard long and filled with wonderful offerings like Spinach-Stuffed Tomatoes, Yellow Carrot Puree, a lavender-colored Risotto, Flash-Fried Okra, Grilled Asparagus, Grilled Spring Onions, Roasted Cremini Mushrooms, and other little accents that made the dish extraordinary. We took a great deal of it home, where it made a few more meals for her.
When our plates were cleared, the girls enjoyed a slice of Hummingbird Cake while I sipped the last of a glass of wine and reflected on the meal. There is nothing like spending time with family and loved ones, and that is precisely how everyone is treated at Lagniappe. Located at 4810 First Coast Highway near Harris Teeter, they serve lunch and dinner seven days a week and feature a Southern breakfast menu starting at 10 am on Sundays.