Jacksonville Florida is approximately an hour from our house. St. Augustine is another thirty to forty-five minutes and Daytona Beach around three hours. The driving time to these locations is dependent on traffic and Big Red’s or Little Blue’s temperament. B. J. and I frequently skedaddle down to the Sunshine State for an outing.
This past weekend was another such jaunt. Big Red, feeling his oats, was feisty and ready to hit the trail. I reined him across the Torras Causeway, up the ramp and headed him south on I-95. Our goal: a weekend in River City. Big Red reared back, kicked up his heels, sprinted along and for a few minutes, he was King of the Road. B. J. fixed her “watch it preacher” look on me and I knew I had better bridle Big Red down.
Crossing the St. Mary’s River into Florida, we exited into the welcome center for a pit stop. While there, we connected “Blondie” our GPS navigation “girl” and programmed her for one of Florida’s finest restaurants, the River City Restaurant right smack dab on the St. John’s River in scenic downtown Jacksonville. We would lunch there. This would not be our first trip to the River City Restaurant but it would be our first daytime visit. We had seen the dazzling array of lights on the St. John’s at night but we wanted to see the place in the daytime.
Blondie never missed a turn. She took us through a picturesque section of town and into the pretty parking lot a few steps from the restaurant entrance. We could hardly wait.
Jacksonville’s premier riverfront restaurant located on the Southbank of downtown Jacksonville features a casually elegant 325 seat main dining room overlooking the beautiful St. John’s River and the skyline of downtown Jacksonville. The menu offers dishes created with global flavor and culinary expertise including fresh seafood, tender steaks creative pasta dishes and daily Chef’s creations.
The lounge attached to the main dining room features live weekend entertainment, both inside and on the outdoor deck.
We were greeted in fine courteous fashion by a superbly attired host. Our host asked us if we preferred to dine on the deck or inside. At first, we said the deck but when she escorted us out there it was a bit too cool so we opted for a cozy inside table with a great view as close to the water as we could get.
The charming, elegant interior of River City soon caught us up in its spell and whetted our appetites. Dressed in striking black apparel, our polite waiter provided us with menus and graciously recited the day’$ special$.
Just reading the menu was an appetite stimulus. For starters, the Bahamian Lobster and Conch Fritters caught our eyes. We had first eaten conch fritters in Key West and then again on the outdoor deck of a fine eatery in Nassau Harbor in the Bahamas. We believed that they would be good at River City. They were made from Lobster, Bahamian conch, sweet onion, red pepper, garlic and an island spice, and served with a key-lime honey mustard sauce in a fancy dish.
Shortly, our conch appetizers were on the table. We bit into them and boy howdy were they ever delicious! They kicked our taste buds into overdrive.
With all that savory food listed on the menu, making a choice for the entrée was a head-scratching experience. Finally, we settled on the Mayport Fried Shrimp. The Mayport Fried Shrimp are jumbo flash-fried local shrimp served with sweet corn hush puppies, fries, southern style slaw, house-made Bloody Mary cocktail sauce and dill-shallot tartar sauce.
While we waited for our order, we munched happily on the tasty conch fritters, admired the view both inside and out and listened to the music.
The outside panorama was spell-binding. Gleaming yachts surrounded us. Across the St. John’s River was Jacksonville Landing encircled by lustrous high rise buildings; it was an astounding spectacle (our next trip to Jacksonville will be a spend-the-day or weekend at Jacksonville Landing). In this amazing setting, B. J. and I would dine sumptuously today.
After savoring the bountiful and delicious Mayport Fried Shrimp platter, we went into an outside photo-taking tour of the place; to say that it is beautiful is an understatement.