A Feast for the Eyes and Mouth
The Cummer expands its menu and seating for an artful outing
829 Riverside Ave., Riverside
Caron Streibich covers dining out throughout Northeast Florida. If you have information about new restaurant openings, menu changes or other food-related news, contact her here. Streibich is also the host of our regular Folio Weekly Bite Club gatherings. Follow the Bite Club on Facebook or Twitter to learn more about it.
Surrounded by art and culture inside and out, The Café at The Cummer offers a relaxing escape from a busy day — and with the addition of an outdoor deck, dining beneath an oversized oak tree has never been easier.
The Café's menu features fare from several local purveyors, such as bread from The French Pantry, coffee from Bold Bean Coffee Roasters and vegetables from Blue Buddha.
Start with the tomato bisque ($5) with boursin cheese crouton. Also warm and comforting is mac 'n' cheese ($8), a hearty portion of elbow noodles mixed with a creamy blend of cheddar and gouda, then topped with a layer of crispy parmesan panko pieces. (For an additional $1, you can add bacon, caramelized onion or truffle.)
Use your bisque to dunk the Southern grilled cheese ($10) — a stack of thick green tomato slices and rich sheep's milk manchego cheese pressed between slices of buttery French Pantry bread.
Seafood fans will enjoy crab cakes ($10) served atop a sweet corn relish. With hardly any filler, the pair of plump cakes is drizzled with a sweet-and-spicy red pepper remoulade. (Tip: Crab cakes can be added to any salad.)
A chopped kale salad ($8) mixed with slivered Marcona almonds, red onion, golden raisins, diced bacon and goat cheese crumbles makes a colorful, tasty impression tossed in a citrusy housemade lemon-thyme vinaigrette and topped with two oversized pieces of crisp flatbread.
The massive quinoa and black bean chef's garden veggie burger ($9.50) arrives on a soft French Pantry bun, piled with sweet caramelized onions, a juicy slab of tomato, lettuce and roasted red pepper aioli. The combination of quinoa, a fluffy grain high in protein and fiber, and black beans provides a filling meal.
Sandwiches are served with orzo salad, napa cabbage slaw, house salad, chips or fruit.
Dessert options include homemade cookies ($2), a rich molten lava cake ($5) and my personal favorite, rosemary lemon squares ($4).
Perhaps most impressive part of dining at The Café is that Executive Chef Jamey Evoniuk cranks these flavorful dishes out from a tiny 300-square-foot kitchen.
Open 11 a.m.-3 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday (museum entrance fee not required), The Café is also open until 8 p.m. Tuesdays (museum admission is free 4-9 p.m. Tuesdays) with tapas specials, $4 local Intuition Ale Works brews and $5 glasses of wine at 5-7 p.m. Sunday brunch is available noon-3 p.m.