Here at EU Jacksonville, we want to spread the word about everything tasty here on the First Coast. We’ve talked to some of our area’s chefs about what they think you should order at their restaurants this season and why.
By Erin Thursby, EU Food Editor & Executive Director of GastroJax
(Downtown) More and more deliciousness is making Downtown Jacksonville a dining destination, but we think you should remember that Cafe Nola has been making Jacksonville delicious for quite some time. I’ve never left there unsatisfied. It can be found on the lower level of the Museum of Contemporary Art (MOCA) in Downtown Jacksonville, next to the Main Library and Hemming Park on Laura Street. It makes for an impressive place to have a business lunch, a date (you can even take in some art at the MOCA if you take their hours into account) or just a post or pre-Art Walk indulgence.
Besides a particular summer salad that I’m in love with, the fantastic shrimp and grits, and the fact that every meal I’ve had there has been delicious, I come back for their signature butter, which is always a little sweet because it’s mixed with an in-season fruit.
Chef Kathy Collins has chosen something very Southern indeed: fried chicken topped with pickled mustard seed, made in-house, sprinkled with bacon powder (also made in-house), which is white, and provides little, intense bursts of bacony flavor. It’s her pick for a fall dish at Cafe Nola, says Chef Kathy, because it’s not as starch-heavy as many standard fall entrees tend to be. “It’s hearty but not weighty,” she says. The fried chicken sits on rainbow baby carrots and braised red cabbage, finished with an apple glaze, a little sweet to balance out the savory and tart.