Any excuse is a great excuse to get out on the water with the family. On an island like ours, there are lots of options, but sometimes ol’ Mother Nature gets all huffy and puffy, and we have to retreat inland. On a recent Saturday morning, the breeze pushed us out to Lofton Creek for a little mini-adventure. I had recently scored a 1973 Sears & Roebuck aluminum canoe from an old friend and was anxious to get it in the water. I took along my beautiful daughter and biggest fan, Lydia. The deal was sweetened with the promise of lunch at the Mustard Seed Café while we were out and about.
The Mustard Seed Café is located inside of Nassau Health Foods, under a sprawling oak tree in the Amelia Plaza Shopping Center. The owner is Buster Beaton, a northeast Florida native and lifelong proponent of healthy living, who had come to Fernandina Beach years earlier to teach at Fernandina Beach High School.
He soon recognized an opportunity to fill an unmet need on Amelia Island and opened Nassau Health Foods. Years later, his commitment to bringing quality products to the marketplace led him to dip his toe into the restaurant world, and ten years later, with the help of chef Shawn Meeks and their farm partners, The Mustard Seed Café is quietly putting out some of the best food on the island.
Lydia is my youngest and most adventurous daughter in the culinary sphere. When we visited sushi restaurants when she was young, Lydia would bite the heads off baby octopi and delightfully say, “Mmm, brains.” Today however, we decided to keep it simple. Despite her taste for the dramatic, Lydia has fallen in love with Caesar Salads, and so no opportunity to enjoy one is missed.
At the Mustard Seed Café, crisp organic romaine is tossed in their homemade dressing with crunchy croutons, shaved parmesan cheese, and candied pecans, then topped with the protein of your choice. Lydia picked grilled chicken. She wasn’t really excited about the croutons or pecans, so she ordered them on the side and I got to enjoy the sweet and spicy pecans. I went fairly traditional as well, choosing to go with the Southwest Brasstown Burger, a handmade burger made from all-natural, pasture-raised beef from Brasstown, North Carolina.
To be perfectly honest, when the beef is ground, seasoned, grilled to perfection, and served all-the-way on a toasted ciabatta bun, you can’t really tell the difference. It is delicious, of course, but along with that full tummy comes the satisfaction of knowing that the meat was raised in a healthful and ethical way, and then prepared by folks who believe in serving the best products around. The burger was served with a side of chips and some pickled cabbage, which was delicious. I added a bit of the cabbage to my last couple of bites of my burger for a killer flavor combination.
The Mustard Seed Café specializes in healthy foods prepared with fresh local ingredients. They are located at 833 TJ Courson Road, in front of the Walmart and Winn Dixie, and serve from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. Monday through Saturday, offering breakfast until noon.