Ten months removed from our first Moxie Kitchen + Cocktails review, we figured it was a good time to revisit why we feel the way we do about Moxie. Moxie was exactly the 6th restaurant we ever reviewed. We flat out loved it then and we love it now. It’s not because we loved every item we tried there, and although good, the service isn’t the best in the city. No, Moxie doesn’t stand out in the conventional ways. We love it because they’ve found a way to make upscale dining fun. We love Moxie because they challenge you to expand your palate while at the same time offering things that conjure up memories of childhood like kettle corn and deviled eggs.
We love Moxie because it offers a willingness to challenge the culinary status quo in this city in a way few others have been bold enough too. Show me another restaurant in Jax where you can get an upscale version of the kind of food you might find at the county fair to start and minutes later be delivered a first class filet mignon from beef raised and finished in Florida. You can’t. There isn’t one. Where else in Jacksonville can you go to dinner and take a culinary adventure? There are a few places, but not many. Moxie offers diners the chance to take a fun whimsical journey through the best of American cuisine. I’ve tried to think of a restaurant to compare it to in Jacksonville and I simply can’t think of one. For me personally, the closest comparison I can make is celebrity chef David Burke. Like David Burke’s, Moxie’s menu has a whimsical quality to it. What upscale restaurant has a Sloppy Joe on their menu (open faced, brisket and short rib, provolone, farm bread)? Moxie. Where can I find fried cheese curds in Jacksonville? Yep, Moxie Kitchen + Cocktails again. Too often upscale restaurants have an uptight sort of quality to them that keeps many people away who don’t feel comfortable in that sort of atmosphere. I feel like Moxie is the kind of place where I can finish a day of shopping at the town center by dropping in for a couple of drinks and snacks from their snack menu. At the same time it’s the sort of place that attracts some of the swankiest folks in town for their Saturday night out. Moxie truly is a place where there’s something for everyone.
The other big reason we love Moxie is because they offer a certain authenticity and attention to detail that’s unmatched in the Jacksonville restaurant scene. Many restaurants buy local high quality ingredients but few take it to the level that Moxie does. On the top corner of Moxie’s menu they list the local suppliers they get their produce from. I count 18 different local farms and craft artisans they get their products from. When you eat at Moxie from top to bottom virtually everything you eat will have been sourced and bought local. You want to keep your dollars local? Dining at Moxie Kitchen + Cocktails is a pretty darn good way to do so. Not only that but studies show the closer you’re able to consume fresh produce to the time it is picked the more nutrients that produce will contain. Local freshly picked vegetables will taste better and also be better for you than those shipped half way across the country or internationally.
Eating at Moxie is an adventure. It’s best done with no preconceived notions of what our food should taste like. We’re all guilty of ordering off a restaurant menu with a preconceived expectation of what that meal SHOULD taste like. Take for example, the chicken pot pie. Early on, it was one of the entrees people just didn’t get into. When I think of a chicken pot pie I think of southern comfort. Most people in Jacksonville do. Before I even take my first bite I’m already tasting heavy cream and chicken in my mind (and smiling I might add). Moxie’s chicken pot pie was nothing like that (it has long been replaced on the menu with a seasonally changing roasted chicken dish). Normally when you eat chicken pot pie you know there are vegetables in there but you hardly taste them. When you ate Moxie’s chicken pot pie you distinctly tasted every vegetable. You didn’t get the overwhelming fatty goodness you were hoping to experience. Your expectation was not met and that can be disappointing. Now, what if you had never had a chicken pot pie before? If you enjoy vegetables I’d venture to say you probably would have really liked Moxie’s chicken pot pie. It offered a variety and depth of flavor that is actually pretty rare in this dish. Bottom line, if you walk into Moxie and try something totally new to you, then you’ll probably absolutely love it. And you’ll probably love many of the familiar dishes, too. But definitely come to Moxie planning to take a culinary adventure and you won’t be disappointed.
The other comment I’ve heard about Moxie Kitchen + Cocktails is that it’s too expensive. That just doesn’t make a lot of sense to me. Compare Moxie to other higher end restaurants that compare (Taverna, Black Sheep, Bistro Aix, Orsay) and I think you’ll find that with the exception of their steaks, their entrees are $2-$3 less on average. They also now offer lunch portions of their entrees at any time of the day. If you have a lighter appetite then that’s a good way to go.
Jacksonville’s restaurant scene has grown tremendously in the last decade. We’ve gone from being a town known almost exclusively for seafood and BBQ to a restaurant scene offering a variety options that grow by the year. We firmly believe that chefs visiting Jacksonville to consider whether or not to make our city home to their next restaurant will look to the success or failure of restaurants like Moxie to help them make their decision. If chefs on the cutting edge of our culinary scene are succeeding then others will be willing to attempt their own journey to push our food scene forward. We encourage you to give Moxie a shot. It’s just the sort of place you have to try for yourself and form your own opinion about. Order a dish and come with no expectations and I suspect you’ll be pleasantly surprised how delicious Moxie truly can be.