Joe’s 2nd Street Bistro

With a welcoming atmosphere and innovative, classic cuisine, Joe’s 2nd Street Bistro in downtown Fernandina Beach has set the standard for over 20 years.

Last Friday night, I finally found the time to sit down and enjoy an evening at Joe’s Bistro with longtime friend, Brett Blalock. The past few times I’d been into Joe’s, I was swinging through on my way to some mini-adventure and I would pop my head in the kitchen door to say hello to Chef Ricky Pigg, grab a little grub, and skedaddle.

Tonight would be different. Since retiring from the Army, Major (R) Brett Blalock has been keeping himself busy working with Westrock in town and helping a legion of brothers and sisters to stay on the right path online and in person. You may have seen him around town pounding the pavement in laughably short shorts and a fifty-pound rucksack. He’s out there most days, exorcising his own demons or helping a friend get to know their own. If you see him, toot the horn to say hello. We were getting together to raise a little Cain and enjoy some fine food. We did both with great aplomb, with my sincere apologies to anyone sitting nearby since neither of us know how to use our inside voices.

We were seated in Joe’s open and well-appointed dining room at a table by the window. Brett took a seat where he could see all the exits, and I took one where I could see all the food coming out of the kitchen. (We all have our priorities.) Chef Ricky came out and greeted us with a bottle of Cab Franc in hand. It was the perfect wine for the occasion. A limited run edition, in hand-painted bottles, a unique wine for an equally unique evening.

We had to maneuver through the menu a little, since the only weakness in the Major’s armor is his shellfish allergy. We shared the Tuna Martini and a Bistro Salad to get things going. Brett ate his tuna with a fork; I got to enjoy mine with the crispy fried wontons that come on the side. This is the perfect starter for someone who loves tuna, but doesn’t eat a lot of raw fish. The tuna fillet is seared and tossed with fresh tropical fruit and avocados, a true delight. The Bistro Salad was simple and refreshing. I love the subtlety of the tarragon vinaigrette.

For our entrees, we engaged the menu by land and sea. Brett chose the Short Rib, Chef’s favorite, and I chose the Triple Tail special created by Sous Chef Adam Fortenberry, another local fellow who is making his way in the culinary world. The fish was bronzed and finished with a Tuscan cream sauce loaded with sundried tomatoes, spinach, and capers. Brett’s Short Rib was braised to perfection and served over an updated corn succotash that expanded his appreciation for the classics. The Major is a solid chef in his own right and gave the meal a huge thumbs up.

We decided to forgo dessert for a few minutes at the Green Turtle before our curfew was up and our families called us home. Go see Ricky and Mari and the gang at Joe’s 2nd Street Bistro, they are open Wednesday to Sunday from 5:30 to 9:00 p.m. Call for reservations.