The reason Jax Restaurant Reviews started was to promote locally owned and operated restaurants in the Jacksonville and surrounding areas. Flavor Palette in Ponte Vedra is a perfect example of the type of place we love to highlight. Flavor Palette was started by Chef Tommy McDonough and his wife, originally from Philadelphia, but now calling Northeast Florida home. He invited us out to his just barely over a year old restaurant (as of this writing) to show us and the rest of Jacksonville what he has to offer.
Flavor Palette is mainly a salad and sandwich type of restaurant, but don’t let the simplicity of the menu fool you. What they do offer is a wide range of flavors from all over the world, all between two pieces of bread, in a pita, or on a salad.
For an appetizer, we decided to try the Poutine. Poutine is a Canadian dish usually consisting of fries covered in brown gravy and cheese curds. Chef Tommy’s version is an American twist on the Canadian traditional. Nothing says “‘Merica” like supersizing and Chef Tommy certainly doesn’t disappoint. The portion size was huge and more than enough for sharing. The fries are covered in brown gravy, cubed cheddar cheese, bacon, caramelized onions, scallions, and as an added bonus for our visit, shredded short rib meat. The fries were cooked perfectly. Crispy on the outside, light and fluffy on the inside. The gravy was smooth and velvety. The bacon added a wonderful crunchy texture. However, the best part of the poutine was the shredded short rib meat. It added an extra beefy taste to the dish and elevated it to another level. The shredded short rib meat isn’t on the menu for the Poutine, but I’m sure if you ask nicely and pay extra, he’ll add it for you. God bless America and God bless Chef Tommy’s Poutine.
We only ate about half of the Poutine for fear of filling up too quickly for the rest of the meal. We tried two of Chef Tommy’s sandwich offerings. I asked him what his best selling sandwich was, and interestingly, it was something not actually on the menu: Philly Cheesesteak. Part of his menu is a “build your own” sandwich where you choose the type of bread, protein, cheese, veggies, etc. So while the Philly Cheesesteak officially isn’t on the menu, you can have it made via the “Build your own.” Chef Tommy makes his Philly Cheesesteak traditionally with chopped steak, peppers and onions, and a hoagie roll. For the cheese, which I know can be a point of contention for Cheesesteak purists, I chose smoked provolone. I like provolone. Don’t judge me. Chef Tommy’s Philly Cheesesteak was fantastic. The steak was tender and juicy with onions, peppers, and cheese mixed throughout. Every bite was perfect. The hoagie roll was toasted nicely on the inside while soft and chewy on the outside.
My dining partner decided on the fish tacos. Chef Tommy does something unique with his fish tacos and changes the fish up daily; whatever he gets in fresh that day is what goes in the taco. For the day of our visit it was grouper. He does his fish tacos “double-decker” style; a hard shell taco with a flour tortilla on the outside. Chef Tommy seasons the grouper with blackening spice and cumin and then grills it. It’s all loaded in the taco and topped with shredded lettuce and house made pico de gallo. It also comes with a side of Sriracha mayo. The fish was beautifully cooked and flaky. The spice had a little heat, but not overwhelming. The pico was good, but a little too much cilantro for me, but I’m not a huge fan of cilantro anyway. If you love cilantro, then this pico is right up your alley. All in all, this was a great fish taco, great texture throughout, and bold flavors in every bite.
Both sandwich offerings came with a side of house made thin-cut waffle fries. They were light, crispy, and delicious.
Flavor Palette is a great up-and-coming little restaurant. Chef Tommy is doing some great things with sandwiches; bold flavors, a definitive vision, and a menu that reflects both. Promoting local restaurants is what we do and places like Flavor Palette make it easy for us to do so.
880 A1A North Scenic and Historic Coastal Byway #9
Ponte Vedra Beach, FL 32082
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.