The Fountain Runneth Over
St. Augustine unites a rich history with a bright future
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The Ice Plant
Conveniently sharing the same location is the Ice Plant Bar. I rediscovered that love at first sight can be real and may come in the form of exposed brick, antique light fixtures, swiveling bar stools, cut glass decanters and craft cocktails. Even the sink in the women’s restroom made me gasp a little bit. Once you are done investigating every nook and cranny, sit back, relax and pretend you are in a 1920s speakeasy. La Dolce Vita is a refreshing concoction of St. Augustine Vodka, honeydew, lime and shishito pepper. High Country combines an earthy blend of Rutte Dry Gin, Luxardo Abano, ginger, lime, cucumber and micro greens. Both showcase the imagination brewing in the bartenders’ minds. The farm-to-table menu offered at lunch and dinner is some of the best food in town.
Cobalt Lounge, Sangria, Cellar Six and Tini Martini, to name a few, are other spots made appealing by their inviting atmospheres, drink specials and the lively crowds that gather there once the sun slips from view.
A Feast for Foodies
A handful of small, Southern cities have earned reputations as meccas for foodies. Count St. Augustine among them. Whether you are looking to eat on the run, enjoy fine dining or satisfy your sweet tooth, the options are abundant.
The Floridian’s exterior is a cheery sky blue while, inside, the restaurant offers local, seasonal and sustainable fare. Expect Southern style favorites with a twist including grit cakes with salsa; fried green tomatoes with herbed ricotta and basil aioli; and ’N Waffles featuring slow smoked BBQ pulled pork over cornmeal waffles with bourbon brown sugar glazed fruit, local honey, buttermilk ricotta and candied pecans.
Costa Brava at the Casa Monica Resort treats dining as an art form with its meze-style menu emphasizing coastal cuisine. A praiseworthy coastal catch is the sherry baked sea bass accompanied by artichokes, tomatoes, Castelvetrano olives, lemon, piquillo peppers and oregano. If red meat is more your speed, the blue cheese beef tenderloin is superb with its brandy-flamed pepper steak, peppercorn sauce and sautéed mushrooms.
You may notice passersby cooling off with whimsically colored frozen treats on a stick. The Hyppo specializes in gourmet ice pops in flavors such as cucumber lemon mint, melon and cracked pepper, blueberry lavender lemonade and dark roast espresso.
My first stop in the city was Cousteau’s Waffles and Milkshakes, which I learned about through Instagram. If you blink, you could miss the location, but once there, you can’t escape the indulgence. I enjoyed a light and crispy yet chewy waffle with toasted coconut ice cream, espresso whipped cream and mocha drizzle. It disappeared before the ice cream could melt.
Centuries later, the influences of Ponce de Leon, Don Pedro Menendez de Aviles and Henry Flagler still pulse through St. Augustine, but propelling the city forward are hotel managers, business owners, tour guides and welcoming residents. St. Augustine owes much to the past, but its contemporary appeal is due to those creating its future.