Tuesday, May 22, 2012

22nd Annual Jacksonville FOODFIGHT

Today I am bringing you a post that does not have anything to do with a recent trip to a local restaurant but with the chefs involved in making these local hot spots happen.  

The 22nd Annual Jacksonville FOODFIGHT will be held at the EverBank Field East Touchdown Club on Thursday, June 7, 2012. The event will feature more than 60 local restaurants, beverage distributors and caterers engaging in a friendly competition showcasing their signature dishes. In addition to the fabulous food and spirits, live entertainment will be provided by the local band Split Tone.
More than 1,200 guests are expected to attend the event and enjoy the samplings provided by the best in the industry. Last year, nearly $100,000 was raised at the event - a record total - with all proceeds benefiting Second Harvest North Florida.  Their mission is to distribute food and grocery products to hungry people and to educate the public about the causes and possible solutions to problems of domestic hunger.  Opening their doors in 1979, the Lutheran Social Services food program began as the Nourishment Network, but became the food bank in 1981 as its services expanded. In 1984, the food bank became a certified member of the national organization, America’s Second Harvest, which changed its name to Feeding America in 2008. The mission of Second Harvest North Florida is to feed hungry people by soliciting and judiciously distributing food and grocery products and to educate the public about the nature of and solutions to the problems of hunger.

This benefit is near and dear to me, as a chef with the Jaguars I have been able to assist by donating product to Second Harvest over the years and have participated in this event for the last few years professionally.  If there is anyway you can make it, I would love to see you out there.

I am sure a lot of you are now asking, "How do I get in?"  You could easily support the cause by purchasing a ticket.  But I have a solution for those of you who are itching to get in and cannot necessarily afford a ticket or simply prefer to spend your tightly knit budget in other ways.  I will be raffling off two tickets to those who help support this blog.  All you have to do is "Like" the Second Harvest of North Florida page, then "Share" this page on Facebook tagging me and Second Harvest and you have earned yourself an entry.  For my Twitter friendly readers "Share" this page on Twitter and tag me, @Jag_Chef and @JaxFOODFIGHT in the post and you have earned yourself another entry, up to four entries a day.   To ensure your efforts are not overlooked, be sure to post a comment here informing me of your efforts. The more you share, the more entries you get, the better chance you have at winning the tickets.

Monday, May 14, 2012

Brick Restaurant

3585 Saint Johns Avenue, 32205

The Avondale area has been loved by many for the classic styling of all the historic buildings located there.  Brick Restaurant gathers it's name from the building it was placed in, an all brick exterior.  The front patio sits directly adjacent to the sidewalk, but there is not much foot traffic causing congestion.  Indoors is a huge dining room with high open ceilings, large pieces of art hanging over the high back booths lining the walls.

We sit down to begin to browse the menu that is said to be Modern American and notice the huge wine list.  Reds, whites, blends, and sparkling with some very respectable names included.  Beers on the other hand were very much lacking, Stella Artois and Bold City Breweries Killer Whale Cream Ale were all they had on tap and 18 bottled, I give kudos on the majority being craft beers, but to only dispense one of the cities local brews is a bit of a let down.

Jumbo Lump Crab Cake, $14
An American classic on the eastern seaboard, this was bound to be a nice starter.  Once the plate arrived it left me feeling a little disappointed.  Expecting a few smaller cakes or a nicely sized large one, all that arrived was a single crab cake, served with a small chopped salad and Louis dressing as an accompaniment..  The crab cake was light and not bogged down by excessive filler.  Though at $14 for a single crab cake it was a little on the small side. Though I guess part of that cost came from the half lemon served with my 3-4 oz of crab cake.

The Brick "Wedge", $6 ($5 to accompany entree)
I was initially excited to try this salad, naming it after the restaurant it is being served in promises big tastes, and hopefully a modernization of this classic as well.  Alas, the salad was severely lacking.  A sixth cut of  a head of iceberg, 3 uncut grape tomatoes, and a very thin very lacking blue cheese dressing without a lot of blue cheese in it.  For a dish that would be considered a flagship item bearing the name of the establishment, this dish was a huge flop.

Bacon Burger, $11
A very traditional straight forward burger, nothing fancy, but done well.  Served medium-rare, just as ordered on a toasted bun with iceberg lettuce, red onion, and pickle chips.  Served with a choice of couscous, french fries, coleslaw or a baked potato and with mayonnaise, ketchup and yellow mustard without having to make the request.

Potato Crusted Grouper, creamed spinach, $23
I saw this on the menu and I began to dream of experiencing another person's take on Daniel Boulud's classic potato crusted fish from Le Cirque.  The dish arrives to be nothing more than under seasoned mashed potatoes smeared on top of a thin piece of grouper and simply baked.  Not as exciting as a $23 dish should be.  The creamed spinach was on the plate as a sauce for the fish but did not bring any more excitement.  The dish is served with the same choice of sides as all the others: fries, coleslaw, couscous, sweet potato fries or baked potato.  There was some brightness to the dish, the fish was cooked very well and I got the other half of my lemon from the starter with my entree.

Key Lime Pie, $7
A very classic and straight forward dessert perfect for the warm months in Florida.  Not sure if these are made in house or locally but it was a nice piece of pie.  A light graham cracker crust with what seemed to be a Key Lime curd filling and a nice dollop of fresh whipped cream on the side.

Apple Walnut Bread Pudding, $7
Traditional bread pudding that almost pushes the use of cinnamon.  Pushes it far enough that I think if it were made with anything other than apples it would be too much.  You can add non-homemade ice cream for $2.  And it might be something to consider because all you get with the bread pudding is a little caramel sauce on the plate.  Nothing to help break up the monotony of a custard soaked bread with apples and walnuts.

In an area of town where you have authentic Middle Eastern at The Casbah fare and damn good BBQ at the newer Mojo No. 4 within walking distance and many more outstanding eateries within a short bike or car ride, Brick is just not up to par with competitive cost and quality of food.  As well they advertise a Modern American menu that just serves classic dishes ranging from the 1970's through the 1990's without out as much as an updated plating technique.  Though from the sounds of the people I have talked to about Brick, the average patron goes to enjoy a glass of wine and a sandwich or burger, which do happen to be the better deals on the menu.

Brick on Urbanspoon