Marker 32 has been a Jacksonville fine dining favorite since 1992. Where so many other restaurants in town have come and gone Marker 32 continues to grow and change in order to meet the needs of its guests. In our experience these guys seem to have a true knack for reinventing themselves every few years while still staying true to the thing that made them successful from the beginning, great fresh seafood. I’ve been a few times over the years and each time the food is consistently very very good. This particular visit we experienced one of the best dishes we’ve had all year. Read on to find out which dish we were so impressed with.
Things started off with an Amuse bouche. Salmon belly, chili flake, Australian sea salt, brown butter pecan. Killer amuse’s pack tremendous flavor in one bite. This one fit that description perfectly. It delivered a tinge of sweet, some savory, a hint of tart and a nice salty tone. Can we just have a plate of these bites as an appetizer next time? Next we tried an appetizer. Deviled egg and fried oyster, house Caramelized Tasso, sriracha aioli. My goodness!!! This appetizer is incredible. They’ve married two of my favorite things plus killer tasso ham. Amazing fried oyster. So many restaurants use cheap oysters and fry them into mush. These guys used select oysters and true oyster fans can tell a HUGE difference. Next we tried the soup of the day, a creamy artichoke and cabbage vegetable soup. This one was nice blend of slightly creamy, slightly spicy and wonderful vegetables just soft enjoy to be enjoyable. I will warn you that you’ll need to be a big veggie fan to enjoy this one.
After the soup we tried Marker 32’s kale salad- candied pecans, creamy bacon cider vinaigrette, house pancetta, candied pecans, crispy tobacco onions, luxardo cherry drizzle. This is a killer salad! Folks who are on the fence about kale but order it because of the nutritional benefits often worry about their salad being bitter. A very well prepared kale salad with the right dressing and accoutrements isn’t bitter at all. This one fit the bill. A great blend of flavors and very nutritious to boot.
We got a chance to sample Marker 32’s take on lamb stew. Winter peas, cipolini onions, and mashed potatoes. This dish was very tender, texture similar to pot roast. If you like lamb and you enjoy pot roast this dish has your name on it.
We tried two types of fish: Grouper- green chili grits pork, red pepper gastric and Trigger fish with sea island red peas(similar to black eyed peas) and rice. Both were cooked perfectly and the accompanying vegetables and sauce were a great match for the natural flavors of the fish. Marker 32 virtually never misses on seafood.
After trying some seafood we dug into some red meat with the Medium ribeye over truffled arugula fries. The steak was cooked perfectly. Overall a solid ribeye.
The last dish before dessert was the New Zealand braised venison shank osso bucco with blackberry gremolata over whipped sweet potatoes with pine nuts. The osso bucco was Incredibly tender and full of flavor. It’s rare to find pine nuts as part of any dish in Jax and just as rare to find blackberry used to add flavor to meat. I’ve never been a big fan of osso bucco but this dish made me a believer. Each flavor married perfectly with the next from the savory meat to the slightly tart blackberry gremolata to the sweetness of the sweet potatoes with pine nuts to add just a touch of something extra. On top of all of that it’s served with one of the bones in so you can scoop out the marrow and enjoy on the wonderful bread made in house. This is as close as it gets to perfection in a dish. You can expect to see it on our next list of “ten things you’ve just gotta try in Jax”. As a funny side note: The photo we were able to snap of this dish was so beautiful that cellar 6 in St Augustine posted it on their Instagram account(without our permission) acting as if it was something their chef had made. If you want a good laugh here’s a link to the photo on their Instagram: https://instagram.com/p/1OcDA_OdFb/
For dessert we enjoyed a Chocolate truffle tort. Hardcore chocolate lovers rejoice! This thing is chocolate heaven. Chocolate sauce topped with chocolate tort topped with chocolate ganache topped with a ledge of white chocolate and a touch of nuts on top. If you love rich dark chocolate you must order this dessert.
In nearly every dish we tried there was a wonderful layering of flavors that is so rare to find in Jacksonville cuisine. Each flavor built beautifully on the next and left you feeling as if you’d taken a culinary journey. There’s no question this is a journey I’d love to experience again.
Don’t be alarmed by the small portion sizes in the photos. Marker 32 invited us out to try the restaurant and share our experience. We were served portions that allowed us room to taste a large number of items on the menu.