Did you hear it? David’s had been for sale, but then in March, the David’s Restaurant community breathed a collective sigh of relief when they got the news: Executive Chef David Echeverri would not only stay on as chef, but he would be the new owner. Devoted regulars knew him already and knew that he knew them, so they were assured he’d continue to serve them their menu favorites. All was well in top-tier fine dining on Amelia Island.
A native of Colombia, Chef David draws on the tastes of many cultures, as Colombian cuisine is a mix of Caribbean, Latin, Spanish, and Arabic cuisines. “A variety of experiences for the cultures and palates people bring with them to David’s” is how he describes his vision for the restaurant. My friend Lilly and I stopped in to see how Chef David’s holiday preparations were going. What we found was a young chef using fusion flair to enhance beloved classic menu items.
First, we had Grilled Octopus, a favorite of the Chef’s. His octopus cuts like lobster, and its light flavor carries the other flavors on the plate. David’s chimichurri has a piquant, green pop: Originally Argentine, chimichurri is now globally popular, meaning every chef has a signature take on the fresh, herby blend. Accompanying two small croquets of sweet plantains and bacon is his own hogao, or Colombian creole sauce, and chorizo crema, all garnished with rolled cucumber and passionfruit gel.
Another of Chef’s favorites is Wagyu Beef. Avocado-jalapeno aioli and pink oyster mushrooms accentuate the flavorful meat. Earthy Callahan mushrooms add flavor to this dish and others. Hard to believe those meaty umami mushrooms are from Nassau County, but it’s true. If you enjoy beef and Wagyu isn’t your style, worry not, for David’s is a steakhouse: Select from dry aged New York Strip, Prime Ribeye, and Filet Mignon. Want some surf with your turf? Choose from two enticing options of Filet Mignon with Lobster Tail.
On your first visit, you will be forgiven for thinking that the building David’s occupies cannot possibly house the storied David’s Restaurant. A friend remembers going to this building with her grandparents in the 1960s to pay the light bill on their summer cottage. But step inside and you’ll experience the elemental appeal of this basic historic space: up front is a convivial lounge with a daily happy hour and dedicated bar menu. In the main dining room, you feel transported with atmospheric watery, icy décor.
The menu itself divides into elements Ice, Wind, Fire, Water, and a Fifth Element. The FIFTH ELEMENT is comprised of additions like Shaved Truffles, Foie Gras, Mushroom Risotto, Blue Cheese Crumbles, Wild Blend of Sauteed Mushrooms, and a Five-Ounce Lobster Tail. Under WIND, you’ll find myriad other small dishes.
ICE is for caviar: choose Russian fish eggs from Osetra or Siberia, or the ever-popular Kentucky Hackleback. If you prefer hatched fish, WATER offers favorites such as Scallops, Dover Sole Meuniere, and Chilean Sea Bass.
Desserts vary, but are made with Chef David’s care. Sweet news for restaurant-goers is that David’s is now serving every night of the week. As with all restaurants, take-out remains a popular option. David’s is located at 802 Ash Street in downtown Fernandina Beach.