by ERIN THURSBY
When I first heard about Shula’s 347 opening, I immediately got nostalgic. I grew up near the first Shula’s, opened inside the Miami Lakes Inn. My father owned an autograph shop on Main Street called History in the Writing just a scant block away from the upscale sports bar, where he met his cronies and watched football games on the big screen.
Since the first Shula’s opened in ’89, they’ve opened about 30 across the country. It’s named and owned by Don Shula, who’s best known for coaching the Miami Dolphins. He’s one of only 5 coaches to win consecutive Super Bowl titles. He’s won an incredible 347 games in his career, hence the name of the restaurant.
A 347 Shula’s exclusively serves Premium Black Angus Beef steaks and burgers. They also serve the outstanding Shula’s Cut, utilizing the same custom cuts and aging process from the renowned Shula’s Steak House.
This Shula’s is far more spacious than the one I knew growing up, but they still use some of the decor touches that made the original Shula’s such a classy sports bar. Well-spaced black-and-white pictures in the same style of frame give it a unified decor. They depict all sorts of sports greats, mostly in football, but also in other sports. To give the place a Jacksonville feel they have locally oriented pictures such as the Florida Theatre and shots of a local beach.
It’s essentially a steakhouse with an unassuming sports theme. Gorgeous wood floors punctuated by metal (etched with quotes from Don Shula), spacious booths and private meeting rooms all make this a perfect place for a sales or board meeting. All of the large screen TVs are AV capable, so you can hook up your computer for a presentation or a video.
To get things going, I ordered a cocktail from their full bar, the sweet-but-balanced Absolut Perfection. It’s a dynamic cocktail with citrus notes (Absolut Mandrin and fresh lemon juice) that’s an energetic blue (Blue Curaco) garnished with a sugar rim. Martini selections are $12 and their-by-the glass wine list ranges from about $7-15. By the bottle the range is from $38-120, with most at about $50.
The appetizer I tried was the only disappointment of the meal. Their BBQ Shrimp are slathered in a copious amount of strong barbeque sauce. They come with an incongruous lemon half, which must only be for decoration because I can’t imagine using it with that sauce. It was overkill. The poor shrimp are overpowered and then drowned. I couldn’t even taste the basil the shrimp was stuffed with. Don’t get me wrong, I love barbeque sauce, but a little goes a long way. If you order this appetizer, just get the sauce on the side!
Luckily, everything else was delightful. I reveled in the perfection of their tomatoes. They have a tomato ripening room, so the tomatoes only go into the fridge to chill just before serving. I just hate it when tomatoes get that mealy texture because they’ve been in the fridge for too long. Shula’s 347 prides itself on using local growers whenever they can and you can taste it in their tomatoes. The baby greens salad, served with spiced pecans, creamy goat cheese and dried cherries exudes a tasteful interplay of flavors and a pretty presentation.
But steak aficionados will want to go straight for the really good stuff: the Shula Cut. Every steak is a center cut, well aged and expertly handled on the grill. If you love steak, you should make it your business to order the filet mignon.
They also scored a touchdown with their raspberry sorbet. It’s inconspicuous on the menu, simply placed in a laundry list of desserts, with no mention of the beautifully sculpted almond praline edible dish it’s served in or the fresh raspberries and mint that adorns it. It was an incredible and delectable variance in textures and flavors that kept my mouth happy.
It’s clear that Don Shula’s excellence in sports has been translated into an excellent dining experience.
a new upscale sports bar
by ERIN THURSBY