Brett’s Waterway Café is the centerpiece of downtown Fernandina Beach. Perched at the westernmost tip of Centre Street, it presides over all the island’s favorite festivities. It is from this vantage point that Chef Brett Carter has been setting the bar for culinary excellence in Fernandina Beach. His sense of style and flavors remain fresh, and his commitment to quality unequalled. Many a young culinarian has worked alongside or looked up to Chef Brett, and our community is better for it.
On a recent Friday afternoon, I met up with some of my favorite people on the porch at Brett’s to wind down the work week. When I arrived, I found my friend, Christie, already at our table and chatting it up over the porch rail with Captain Kyle McCarthy of Amelia River Cruises; he and I had just said hello in the parking lot. Dozens of people milled about as revelers anxiously awaited their sunset cruise, creating a sense of anticipation and excitement on the dock and the porch, making us feel like we were right in the center of everything. There were pelicans and people everywhere, boats came and went, the sun started its evening descent, and for a moment, everything was right.
A few minutes later, Christie and I were joined by my parents, and soon after our very good friend, former co-worker, and Brett’s veteran server Cortney Gray came right behind them to get our drink order. Dad kept it simple with Budweiser, but the weather was perfect and the table behind us had a pitcher of Rosé Sangria full of fresh peaches and grapefruit, and so I had to side with the ladies.
As the tour boats headed out, they took with them much of the volume. Conversation flowed easily, and Cortney came back to let us know about the menu features for the evening. We got started with an order of Brett’s Café Chips, homemade potato chips topped with sweet and tangy pulled pork, sliced jalapeños, and melted cheese. We also asked for an order of the Bam Bam Shrimp; perfectly fried local shrimp drizzled with their signature Bam Bam sauce. It’s a sweet-and-savory shrimp explosion with just a hint of heat.
We came for drinks and appetizers, but when the Lucy Ferguson headed for Cumberland Island, dinner service began and the Scallop and Pork Belly evening special was the temptation of the table. We decided on the scallops and an order of Fried Shrimp to share. The pork belly was silky smooth and paired wonderfully with the scallops, which came surf-and-turf, divided by an island of creamy and delicious risotto and roasted asparagus. The sear on the scallop was the perfect crispy contrast to its delicate flesh, finished with a lemon butter sauce. The dish was perfect. The Fried Shrimp were breaded lightly and fried golden brown, served on a nest of crispy French fries with all the accoutrements. A definite crowd pleaser.
While Brett’s Waterway Café is the perfect spot to celebrate a Friday afternoon and welcome the weekend, their delicious food and hospitality make it a great place to celebrate anything at all. They are open Tuesday to Saturday from 11:30 a.m. to 8:30 p.m., with the dinner menu beginning at 5:30 p.m.