Submitted by Gerry Clare
Friday, February 8th, began a weekend of new beginnings on Amelia Island with a Grand Opening celebration at En Vogue Couture (8 North 2nd Street). Owner Patricia Morrow-Huffenbecher used to live here and moved to Hilton Head, where she operated a bridal shop. After she married, she returned to Amelia Island this past April to open her elegant shop here, hoping her fashions will “appeal to young women and keep brides here to shop, instead of going to Jacksonville.”
Modeling in the store at the opening were Mariah McMullen (in the white), Charlene Bratton (in grey) and the youngest model, Nicole Burling. For more information, visit the shop or go to www.envoguecouture.com.
The next stop Friday was the long-awaited opening of The Verandah and the Chamber ribbon cutting ceremony. The reception was lovely with wine and hors-d’oeuvres circulating. The Managing Director, Timothy Digby welcomed everyone and introduced the executive chef, Davin Wardynski, who talked about the new menu being “Florida comfort food with an attitude.” He also said that the restaurant would be knowledgeable about where the fish and seafood came from. For instance, he said the catfish would be local from the St John’s. He promised smoked mullet with the “new smoker,” and fresh entrees. The Verandah chef, Chris Pickeren was also on hand to welcome us all.
The remodel of the restaurant is more along the lines of fresh, open and modern, still with lots of glass and views. However, the bar is now separate as you enter with a wall between it and the dining area. This reporter and her husband can attest to the excellence of the food on the first night, having ordered the terrific grouper, beef tenderloin (both perfectly grilled) and the Caesar salad. Don’t forget to try the sweet corn soup.
The last stop for Friday before meeting for dinner was at A Taste of Wine by Steve at 5174 First Coast Highway for a wine tasting, hosted by Steve and Donna Raszkin. A lovely evening with lots of visitors, and although this shop has been here for awhile, this was the first time I was in the area for a visit. The shop is well-stocked with an interesting variety of wines, and the canapés and tastings were excellent. I particularly enjoyed “Muscadet,” which I had never tried, not being a huge fan of white wines, but loving reds after living in Seattle for 5 years.
The Raszkins put out a newsletter with all their events, or for more information you can go to www.ATasteofWinebySteve.com.
Saturday morning brought the re-opening of the Surf on South Fletcher for breakfast. The restaurant indoors has been retro-redecorated with high booths and lovely pastel colors. Breakfast from 7 to 11 a.m. on weekends brought a small group at 8 a.m., but reminded me of the old Surf breakfasts we used to go to 20 years ago, except with a lovely modern touch. The new chef, Don Fagen, presented an inviting plate for our French Toast, with colorful garnish and the food was good, the waitstaff attentive.
As the slogan goes, “Life (Breakfast) is Good at the Surf.” A job well done for the local owners, the Sheffields. Try lunch and dinner indoors as well.
February 9, 2013 7:00 p.m.