The Chef Selects: Michael McKinney of Restaurant Orsay Talks Scallops

Chef Michael McKinney's Scallop and Truffle Crudo

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


Chef Michael McKinney, The Chef Selects, Chef Michael McKinney, Restaurant Orsay,Restaurant Orsay has been one of the standard-setters in Jacksonville for upscale cuisine for some years now, and if you’re looking to impress, it should be on your shortlist. The base here is French, but with American Southern influences and a modern take, so you’ll find international flavors represented. While they do have an excellent wine menu and beer selections, we highly recommend that you delve into their craft cocktails. Upscale isn’t always synonymous with hip, but Orsay manages to be elegant without feeling stuffy, which is a signature feeling throughout the Black Sheep Restaurant Group.

Chef Michael McKinney says that they “change a handful of items every season, but with this last menu rollout, we expanded by a large amount, added about eight different items rather than just changing.” Some dishes have a relatively similar base (like seared scallops) but get heavier and more comforting with the change to Fall and Winter.

The Chef Selects, Chef Michael McKinney, Restaurant Orsay, Scallop and Truffle Crudo, Black Sheep Restaurant Group, Photo by Erin Thursby

The Chef touts the virtues of their Scallop and Truffle Crudo as something you should be ordering on their new menu. He expects that besides this menu item, Orsay will be running more crudo specials this season. A crudo, if you haven’t tried one, is a dish of raw seafood or fish dressed with oil, citrus juice, and seasonings. This particular gorgeous little dish features slices of raw scallop, topped with contrasting thin slices of truffle, red radish, Georgia olive oil, tarragon, and Maldon sea salt. The large crystals of the finishing sea salt gives the dish a dramatic punctuation of salty crunch, slightly dissolved in the olive oil.

The Chef Selects, Chef Michael McKinney, Restaurant Orsay, Sea Scallops, Black Sheep Restaurant Group, Photo by Erin Thursby

If you like scallops but aren’t so daring as to try a raw crudo, Chef McKinney says that this season’s Sea Scallops are a clear winner. They dress the dish with a pecan riesling vinaigrette, using pecan oil from the local farm Congaree and Penn, along with roasted butternut squash, parsnips, ruffled potato-leek puree, and delightfully crispy brussel sprout leaves.

For those that are more into turf than surf, Chef McKinney recommends the Braised Short Rib. The dish includes savory duxelles bread pudding, roasted heirloom carrots, swiss chard, cauliflower, pearl onions, and braising jus.

About Erin Thursby