Trip ’Round the Globe Starts with a BITE

The Patio Place is a must. Almost everything about dining at this little gem tucked along the outer edge of Downtown Fernandina Beach makes for a perfect experience. The fun, inventive menu, a wonderful staff and amazing atmosphere lifted me onto a cloud.

One of the loveliest things about Patio Place is that it really feels warm and welcoming. They want you to hang out and enjoy yourself. Fluffy companions are also welcome; there’s a water bowl available on the patio and complimentary dog treats; maybe even a pat or two.

Take some time with the menu — you’ll need it. Owner Amy Petroy and her husband have traveled all over the world and wanted to bring the flavors of their journeys back to the States. Choose from bratwurst from Germany, bruschetta from Italy, crêpes from France and more. Do not let the variety trick you into expecting prefab, processed food. We toured the globe with the menu and everything is fresh and flavorful.

We’ll start in India, one of the more unexpected sections on the menu. There’s a Poppadums Platter! For those unfamiliar with poppadums — it’s a very thin, cracker-like gluten-free sheet flavored with spices; cumin comes through most clearly. Three chutneys – mango, tamarind, mint – are included. The mango’s like apricot jam, sweet but not overwhelmingly so. The tamarind is its own entity; a slightly thick, rich brown sauce that’s a little tart, sour and a little sweet. My favorite? The mint, a somewhat thinner sauce that has a little tang!

Next, we went to France to sample the menu’s most featured items  – crêpes. Gluten-lovers and gluten-free folks alike can enjoy digging into the savory crêpes because gluten-free buckwheat flour is used. Order the Tango ($11), a steak crêpe with sweet onions and spinach; chimichurri sauce adds layers to the savory flavor. The sauce’s slight tangy aftertaste was not my favorite, but my dining companion said I was crazy — he devoured it. If you’re thinking breakfast, order the Classic Brittany ($7.50), which includes a sunny-side-up egg, ham and cheese.

The salad that accompanies these crêpes is pretty darn decent. With a rich balsamic house dressing, fresh greens and tomatoes, I wouldn’t mind eating a little more of it.

We tried the Brazilian Bowl ($8.50) from South America. This spicy rice, beans and meat dish includes orange segments, which give it a bright explosion of freshness. Atop the rice, there’s well-seasoned pork tenderloin chunks and fork-ready sausage.

For a sweet finish, the Sweet Sweet Cinna Sugar ($4.50) with a scoop of ice cream ($1) is the way to go. This delish dessert is not too rich and not too sweet; it reminded me of the cinnamon sugar toast I had as a child.

It’s all about the little touches at this ‘stop and smell the roses’ type place. Enjoy the food, play a game from a broad selection (Battleship was our favorite), and embrace the conversation.