With all these beautiful, sunny days we’ve been having, all I want to do is be outside – eating. This led me to embark on a brunch trip to St. Augustine to visit Preserved Restaurant. This charming, historic, blue and white Victorian transformed into a restaurant just a few years ago is located in St. Augustine’s Lincolnville District. What’s Lincolnville? It’s a historic district located on the southwest side of downtown St. Augustine – close to the St. Augustine Distillery. The locally-sourced southern cuisine is full of flavor and variety for all appetites as well as an impressive wine menu, making the 45 minute drive from downtown Jacksonville well worth it.
As you drive up to Preserved Restaurant, you’ll be pleased to see a parking lot for patrons – because we all know parking in St. Augustine can be challenging. Seating is available on the wraparound porch as well as the courtyard where you can enjoy the Florida sunshine and occasional trolley passing by. Inside the restaurant is a little more elegant but still has a charming, homey feel. At night, candles and lights transform the mood into a more elegant setting inside and out.
Preserved serves weekend brunch and supper Tuesday – Sunday. The brunch menu includes some southern favorites like biscuits and gravy, French toast, fried chicken, and eggs benedict by the executive chef and owner, Brian Whittington. You might recognize this James Beard-nominated Chef as the former executive chef at Orsay in Jacksonville. When I learned this, I thought to myself, can the Orsay quality, service and unique twists on food travel down to St. Augustine to serve up delicious southern cuisine? Well let me tell you, it absolutely can. And does!
To start brunch we ordered the shrubmosas ($8) and house made scones and jam ($4). The citrus infused scones were topped with a vanilla glaze and came with strawberry preserves. Perfectly baked – not dry or too sweet and the preserve really complimented the citrus. For those who don’t love super sweet, you will enjoy this. Perfect for sharing.
Then came the biscuit and gravy ($4). Definitely not for sharing because this savory biscuit was so good, everyone should just order their own. You can order 2 for $7. Some sausage gravies I’ve had have been salty, bland or greasy. This sausage gravy was none of those things but was full of flavor.
For the entrees, we ordered the Mayport Shrimp & Grits ($14) which came with a side of greens and the House Smoked Salmon Benedict ($11). The shrimp were perfectly cooked and large. The plate came with grits, crisp bacon and creamed corn. Although only a few pieces of bacon came on the plate, it was super thick and tasty. I wanted more. The grits and creamed corn were full of flavor that even someone who’s not a huge grits fan will love this dish. Although I’m from the South, I’m one of those people who won’t eat grits plain and I really enjoyed the flavor of these grits.
The house smoked salmon benedict came with a large serving of smoked salmon, two soft poached eggs and hollandaise on an English muffin with a side of potatoes Lyonnaise. The salmon tasted super fresh and had a great smoked flavor and although it was a little too salty by itself, the saltiness was perfect when you combined the egg, greens and sauce. Probably the best hollandaise I’ve ever had too. The potatoes were cooked perfectly and gave a nice variety to the traditional home fries I would have expected on the dish.
Finally we ordered dessert. The crème brulee ($9) has a traditional vanilla flavor and is topped with fresh berries. The caramelized sugar was crunchy, yet not too thick, and melted in my mouth. Hands down this was the most flavorful crème brulee I’ve ever had. Preserved also makes their own ice cream in-house, which I can’t wait to try next time.
Now I have to mention the service. This was my second visit to Preserved and again for the second time, the service was top-notch. The wait staff were extremely kind, knowledgeable and took time to make sure we enjoyed our experience. Although we didn’t spend hundreds of dollars, not even $100, they made us feel like we were special. From the presentation of each dish to the full flavors and variety of food choices, Preserved is a must visit restaurant (make reservations) in the heart of St. Augustine. You will leave Preserved feeling full, happy and wanting to go back.
Cassie is a Jax native, Osprey and San Marco resident. This dog-mom loves exploring local restaurants and traveling to new cities. Professionally a CPA, she spends her free time discovering food, wine and beer on the First Coast and working out to burn it off. It’s all about balance, right? Follow her on Instagram @sweetplussavory