One Tuesday, I wondered where my friend, Karen Langshaw, and I might find a good place to relax and let the good times roll, and we decided on Lagniappe, located on the south end of Amelia Island. Lagniappe is always buzzing when I’m there, but there is room for all in its generous bar, large dining room lined with booths, two separate smaller dining rooms, and patio with a fire pit.
Karen began with a signature house cocktail, the “L” Fashioned, with house Creole bitters and a Luxardo cherry. Cherries for grownups, Luxardos are tiny, almost black, nutty, and elegant beauties from Croatia and Italy. For me, how better to grasp the good times than with the Les Bon Temps cocktail, a citrus peach-lavender treat. Laissez les bons temps rouler!
Our server, Chris, answered our questions in the detail I adore. “This restaurant is essentially home-cooking done very well,” he said while describing some house specialties. Popular appetizers include fried green tomatoes, pork belly, fried chicken wings, corn dog, poutine with daily special gravy, and gumbo. The pimento cheese and pepper jelly with my fried green tomatoes truly reminded me of my Augusta childhood. Karen’s Heritage Pork Belly was savory, with a sweet bit of apple chutney, crunchy arugula, and shaved pecorino, all finely balanced.
Owner and Chef Brian Grimley is English, but he has truly captured the flavors of the American South. After an engineering degree in England, he landed in the Tidewater region on the Atlantic coast. He studied diligently in his self-taught culinary quest, spending time in New Orleans, Charleston, and Savannah and crafting his own style from ideas learned from Paul Prudhomme, Jacques Pepin, and others. Executive Chef Brett Heritage is a graduate of the Fernandina Beach High School Culinary Program, graduated from FSCJ culinary school, and has been working in local kitchens ever since.
Casual fine dining is what to expect at Lagniappe. On the menu are sandwiches, burgers, crabcake on brioche, and po boys on Leidenheimer’s French Quarter Pistolet, the bread that has defined the po boy since 1929. And that corn dog is no ordinary corn dog. As our server, Chris, said about home-cooking done very well, this is a Lobster Tail Corn Dog! Brian knows his way around shellfish after having developed a popular seafood restaurant known for its Maryland crab. Each time my friend, Sherry, eats at Lagniappe, she takes home an order of Mayport Shrimp Mac ‘N’ Cheese to enjoy later. My take-homes have included the incomparable Crispy Brussels Sprouts.
How does Hoppin’ John with Pickled Collards sound? My entree of Blue Corn Crusted Catfish came with these and Crawfish Etouffée, creating a heady mix of flavors and textures. Karen’s Veal Scallopini reminded her of piccatas she has loved, but better, with its rich lemon-caper beurre blanc, saffron rice, asparagus, and fried leek.
Do you know what a Lagniappe is? Pronounced lan-yap, it’s the Cajun word for little something extra. We took home a lagniappe of our own, the Tres Leches cake, which was so moist and delicious. What an easy place to be, full of joie de vivre! Lagniappe, located on First Coast Highway, is open daily for lunch and dinner from 11 am to 10 pm, with breakfast on Sundays from 10 am to 3 pm.