Bringing the World to Riverside

New restaurant at old location serves Asian, Indian 
and Mediterranean dishes

Veggie curry atop basmati rice is available at lunch or dinner and is chock full of carrots, peas and cauliflower.
Caron Streibich
The Cornish hen with savory bread pudding and fresh green beans is one of several dinner entrées.
Caron Streibich
Choose from three bahn mi options: Asian pork with house pâté (pictured), duck confit and fried tofu with yeast and onion gravy. All three are topped with pickled diakon, carrots, cucumbers, Sriracha mayonnaise and sprigs of cilantro.
Caron Streibich
From the sandwich menu, cold-smoked salmon with lemon chive cream cheese, capers and red onion slivers top a crisp toasted bagel.
Caron Streibich
The house salad can be topped with your choice of a protein, including crisp golden tofu “fingers.”
Caron Streibich
The creamy white bean fondue of goat cheese, white beans and fresh herbs is accompanied by crispy crostini for dipping.
Caron Streibich
The mac ’n’ cheese needs more oomph.
Caron Streibich
Dessert options are limited: a fruit crisp (pictured), chocolate cake and ginger snap banana pudding.
Caron Streibich

2782 Park St., 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.

Riverside newcomer Café Freda delivers 
 a diverse menu in a comfortable, casual setting. Prices are reasonable and Chef Brian Freda and Sous Chef Kyle Cobb's "global comfort food" draws inspiration from Asian, Indian and Mediterranean cuisine.

Creative entrées, sandwiches and salads, along with a small (but sufficient) beer and wine selection, make it a good fit for brunch or lunch with friends or a quiet date night.

On a recent lunch visit, I ordered the veggie curry ($9) — chock full of potatoes, carrots, peas and cauliflower simmered in a yellow curry sauce ladled over fluffy basmati rice and topped with toasted almonds, mango chutney and a sprinkle of scallions. Not overly spicy, the crunch of the almonds and the sweetness from the chutney added complexity to the vegetables and rice.

The Asian pork bahn mi ($8) with house pâté, pickled daikon, carrot and cucumber, Sriracha mayo spread and fresh cilantro was tasty but felt inauthentic on a soft roll instead of a traditional crunchy baguette. Since it came with no side item, I ordered the mac 'n' cheese ($3). Next time I'll try green pasta salad or maybe black beans and rice.

For dinner, Café Freda had run out of a few items, so options were somewhat limited. The slow-roasted (in local beer, mind you) Cornish hen ($16) was a solid choice. Accompanied by a slab of moist, savory bread pudding and crisp, fresh green beans, it was quite filling.

Wanting to end on a sweet note, I ordered the fruit crisp ($5), but was tempted by the ginger snap banana pudding. The top layer in the small ramekin was not crisp or crumbly as I'd expected, but hard like a very thick cookie. After forcing my spoon through this crust, I uncovered a few bites of unimpressive chopped cinnamon apples.

Café Freda is open 11 a.m.-9 p.m. Tuesday-Saturday and 10:30 a.m.-2:30 p.m. Sunday for brunch. It's easily accessible by foot or bike for locals, but ample parking spots exist in front of the cozy building.

Although the former restaurants at this location — Bungalow on Park, Caribbean House and Alphadog — didn't last, I'm rooting for this underdog. With a few adjustments, Café Freda could make a lasting impression in historic Riverside. 

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