For those of you familiar with the Blackfly brand, it may come as no surprise that their newest project, The Blackfly Cafe and Taproom, is a wild success. An extension of the man behind it all, Vaughn Cochran, the taproom is focused on Caribbean-style cuisine based on quality and authenticity. Cochran, best known for his artwork of all things tropical and his passion for fly fishing, calls the Cafe and Taproom an attempt to share his experiences in the world of angling and in the Bahamian lifestyle. Running a restaurant is nothing new for the brand; the Blackfly Restaurant in St. Augustine quickly became a local hit, and models the same focus on distinction and versatility that the Taproom possesses.
The Blackfly Restaurant in St. Augustine is best known for their conch fritters, a recipe that came from Vaughn’s business partner, Clint Kemp. Kemp’s grandmother was a local Bahamian her entire life, and had the art of conch fritters down to a science. The fritters are now a staple at both restaurants, and they are simply fantastic- with a rugged exterior and a soft interior, with chewy pieces of flavorful conch spread throughout. They meet right in the middle of buttery and crunchy, and are topped with just a dash of sea salt to enhance the flavor.
Another staple at the restaurant is the cuban sandwich, which some call the best cuban north of Miami. Cochran himself spent months working with his chef to perfect the sandwich, which ultimately paid off, as the cuban at the Cafe and Taproom has grown a reputation of being stellar. Quality is something the brand is focused heavily on, as the bread for the sandwich is imported all the way from Tampa to capture the South Florida feel that can sometimes be hard to find in Jax. The shipment of bread comes every other day, to ensure the freshness of the sandwich as a whole.
While some could argue that the conch fritters or the cuban sandwich is what makes this establishment distinct, the ultimate answer is that it is not simply a restaurant–it is an experience. Dining at the Cafe and Taproom feels like taking a trip to Key West without ever leaving the comfort of your North Florida home. The experience, coupled with Blackfly’s heavy focus on quality food and quality service, makes it impossible to dislike.
Versatility is another attribute that makes the Cafe and Taproom remarkable. There is something for everyone, from the outstanding cuban sandwich, to the mojo roasted chicken, and the constant fresh and daily changing desserts served. Maybe it is their wide variety of brews, imported from Belgium to all the way here in Florida. Supporting the local brews, they carry Aardwolf’s Berlin Pale Ale, Intuition’s I-10 IPA, and Intuition’s Double Elimination on tap. Though, the beer on tap is constantly rotating, so they are sure to keep a healthy variety. Also, true to their Bahamian roots, they serve Kalik, the official beer of the Bahamas.
The target audience is not a certain age group, a certain gender, or even a person who fly fishes (which happens to be what the brand is built around); the cafe and taproom is for someone who enjoys quality, appreciates their surroundings, and who is concerned about the environment.
If you are looking for something unique, and completely unlike any other restaurant in Jacksonville, give the Black Fly Cafe and Taproom a try. It is a breath of fresh air, with an overwhelming sense of consistency and variety. It is located at 11702 Beach Blvd #109. Give them a call at (904) 646-0007.