Chef Michael Meeks worked his way up in the Jacksonville culinary scene. He worked in various hotels and restaurants, ultimately rising to the position of sous chef at The Omni Hotel in downtown Jacksonville. When the position of executive chef opened up at Frequency Restaurant in the newly renovated DoubleTree Hotel at Jacksonville International Airport, he jumped at the chance to take the lead in this beautiful new space. Honestly when we got the invite out from the DoubleTree at JIA we didn’t have the highest hopes. How often have you found a really good restaurant in an airport hotel? Aside from the very high end brands, I’ve found very few. Frequency Restaurant is the exception to the rule. The food they’re offering is well thought out and put together with care.
The first dish we tried was the deviled eggs appetizer ($8). This one came with 4 kinds of deviled eggs – pimento, bacon and blue, standard, and blue cheese with green onion. Born and raised in the south, I LOVE deviled eggs. If they’re on the menu I order them and I never get tired of them. The standard deviled egg was well done – not too mustardy. Solid. The pimento was also really good. Sometimes when they stray too far from traditional deviled eggs it just doesn’t work, but this one really did. You got a hint of what you would normally expect from a deviled egg tastewise and then the pimento cheese came through pretty strong. You’ve gotta like pimento cheese to enjoy this, but if you do then you’ll be happy with it.
Topped with roasted pepper cole slaw plus datil pepper aioli and full of crab, the blue crab cake appetizer we tried next was one of the better crab cakes we’ve had in Jax. After the crab cakes we got to the main attractions. The shrimp and grits were the first entrée we tried. These shrimp and grits ($25) were very good. They were prepared with a cajun flair, incorporating sausage and a red sauce as opposed to the typical southern shrimp and grits. The sauce was delicious and certainly was not lacking for flavor. As we ate it we couldn’t get over the fact that shrimp and grits this good was being served to us at an airport hotel restaurant. Frequency though is far better than the airport hotel restaurants I’d visited before this one. Our only knock on this dish is that for the price, they really ought to use local shrimp. We could tell by the texture of the shrimp that they had been delivered off the Sysco truck. We asked the chef and he confirmed this. Regardless, we really enjoyed this dish.
You’d also never expect an amazing burger at an upscale hotel restaurant, yet that’s exactly what we found here at Frequency Restaurant at The Jax Airport DoubleTree. Pickled vegetables made in house top the burger. Crispy onion straws added crunch. The burger patty was juicy and delicious. What more could you want? At the end of our meal we asked the chef what he made when someone asked for a vegetarian option. He suggested the vegetarian panini ($10) served on warm naan bread, filled with roasted/grilled seasonal vegetables plus tomato pesto and goat cheese. We gave one a try and actually were impressed to the point that we felt, as meat eaters, we’d even be inclined to order it.
We sampled two desserts which were both very well done. The first was a peach melba ($7). This came with house made slow churned ice cream (how can this be an airport hotel?), a warm peach melba sure to make any Georgia peach smile, and pralines which really added something special to each bite. Why don’t we see pralines in more desserts? They’re really a great addition! The last dessert we tried was the s’mores nachos ($8). The s’mores nachos were like a cross between sopapillas and s’mores. Needless to say, we were fans. If the picture of the smores nachos in this article doesn’t make you want to drive up to the airport to visit Frequency Restaurant, I’m not sure what will. Really the only negative is that the pricing is a bit high, with the average entrée right around $25. We’re guessing since many of their guests are charging things to their expense account, they can get away with slightly higher prices. A locals discount might really go a long way in getting folks in Jax to patronize the place.
For the final time today I’ll say it – I can’t believe a restaurant at an airport hotel really makes food this good! Chef Michael Meeks has taken his first opportunity as executive chef and hit the ground running. From a sauce that made his shrimp and grits stand out to the creative yet simple s’mores nachos, you’d be hard pressed to visit the Frequency Restaurant at the Jax Airport DoubleTree and not leave a fan.
Note: From time to time we’re invited out to try a restaurant or to taste new menu items. This meal is usually comped, as this one was. We’re under no obligation to write a positive review or any review at all when we’re invited out to try a place. Every review you see on our site will be an honest review of the place whether or not the restaurant provided us with the meal at their cost.