Ok, I think I might have found a hidden gem. This was a “comp’d” dinning experience for me, but let me just say this right now, it had no influence AT ALL on what I’m writing. You can ask my wife @EconTiff (her twitter handle) There is some great food being served here. To be honest, if it wasn’t free, I probably would have gone a long time before trying it. I’m glad they reached out to me. If you go by the Urbanspoon and Yelp! reviews, you will see that it appears they have re-invented themselves. I will get into that below in the Extra section.
9726 Touchton Rd, Ste 105
Jacksonville, FL 32246
Location: Do you remember where Urban Flats was located, over in that area of Taverna Yamas, Mellow Mushroom and Tinseltown? It’s there, you can see it from Touchton Rd, that’s the best way to get there.
Food: I’m not going to go over everything I tried, but I will talk about a few of my favorites. This one snuck up on me, the Stuffed Poblano $6 (Menu Description: Roasted poblano pepper filled with cheesy beef and rice. finished with a smoked cheddar cheese.) This dish was about the size of my fist, pretty big. I really liked this, the mushroom wasn’t mushy, it still took a knife to cut it. The meat was really spicy, I actually thought it might have been chorizo but it wasn’t. The dollop of sour cream was a nice touch to cool it all down.
I also tried the Bacon Mac ‘n’ Cheese $8 (Menu Description: Our house mac ‘n’ cheese tossed with applewood smoked bacon.) This was really good, the cheese had a nice sweet taste to it and the bacon balanced it back out. They didn’t go skimpy on the bacon either, there was plenty in every bite. This is a must have.
The Tasty Meatballs $8 (Menu Description: Meatballs and mozzarella cheese wrapped in puff pastry. served with fresh marinara.) I think stole the show. You get three big balls (#TWSS) of heaven in an order and at first I was sharing with my wife but that changed quickly. These were cooked perfectly on the inside while keeping the pastry outside nice and flaky. The meatball itself had great taste and it had a little kick to it. Right up my alley. Try this and let me know what you think.
For the entree, I went with the Blackened Fettuccini Alfredo $17 (Menu Description: Fettuccini tossed in our home-made alfredo sauce then topped with parmesan.) This ranks up there with something I would expect to get from Capital Grille. Very tasty, the noodles were a little on the al dente side, which I like. I want some chew to it. The sauce wasn’t heavy and over the top, nice and to the point. Perfectly seasoned and a very large portion size.
For dessert I had the White Chocolate Blueberry $6. (No menu description). This came in a nice ramiken and to be honest with you, I had given up on cheesecake since Pele’s Wood Fire took theirs off the menu. This one at Taste Food Studio would have given it a run for it’s money. This thing was money. I couldn’t get enough of this and it was a big portion. I like my cheesecake with a little thickness to it and this had it. This will be on my list for best dessert in Jacksonville (I have to create a category, it’s that good).
Extra: Ok, so if you look at the reviews on Yelp! and Urbanspoon you will think this place has split personalities. I’m not going to lie, when I saw the Urbanspoon ranking, I was regretting accepting the invitation to this private tasting. I had to ask the owner how was this place so different. Not to get into all the details, but it came down to an angry ex-chef posting reviews and frankly, the owner was uninspired and had gotten lax. After seeing the reviews, it appears it woke him up. He hired a new chef, reinvented the menu and tried to recreate his restaurant. I think he has turned this thing around. I never tried the older menu, but what I did try, was great.
I think you should give this place a chance, and if you’ve been here before the new menu came out, try it again. Let me know if you are getting something I didn’t from the food. I want to know if I just got the “food critic” wonderfulness. I think this place gets it, they have a clue.
– Great location, huge area to hangout, inside or out
– Full bar
– Great value, on this one I think as the customer, you are ahead in value
– New menu that seems to get it right this time
– Locally owned
– Kid friendly
– I honestly can’t think of one right now. That’s a good thing because I’m picky.
Other items I tried and liked: Shrimp and Grits, Pork Belly Taco, Braised Short Ribs, Grilled Filet Medallions, Parmesan and Truffle Fries (actually liked the truffles this time, go figure!).