Jacksonville Magazine’s Best 50 Restaurants in Jacksonville 2019

The Cole Slate Team
The Cole Slate Team
Published on January 24, 2020

Aqua Grill Review – 1/24/2020
Cole Slate – St. Johns, Florida

Even though I try and create an open invitation scenario for this dinner tour around town, first eight to respond (I make a reservation for ten), our night out at Aqua Grill was another double date. Y’all need to join us! Thanks for joining us, Brian and Sydney 😁

Laura and I arrived a tad early, and ventured into the bar area while we waited for our partners in consumption. Laura is still involved in dry January; so just like last week, she chose an overpriced glass of bubbly water to quench her thirst. I decided to try a couple of the signature cocktails to add to my experience, and our review. Cocktail number one was Ponte Vedra’s Hottest Margarita. It was very tasty and presented very cute. It definitely wasn’t the “hottest” margarita I’ve ever had, as I am a big fan of jalapeño margaritas, but it was still good!

Ponte Vedra’s Hottest Margarita

Brian and Sydney arrived, so we headed to our table. We sat at a high four-top in a little section next to windows that overlooked the kitchen, which made a pretty cool atmosphere. It got a little smoky back there once, luckily it wasn’t our food! The hostess that sat us was very nice, as was our server for the evening. She definitely went over the top to make us feel comfortable, welcomed, and assisted with our overall experience. In addition, she was also very straight-forward and blunt when asking her opinion on our dish selections. We absolutely appreciate that quality in our server!

It was appetizer time, and I had already scoped out a crab claw special I wanted to try. The ladies of the table saw the charcuterie board, and Brian and I were unable to talk them out of it. I swear I could go to the lunch meat and cheese sections at Publix and throw something together on to a fancy plate at home. There were so many better options! Brian and I also split some Oysters Rockefeller as well. The crab claws were good, and came with a delicious sauce as well. The cheap-o in me came out when we only got three claws for $19 though. As they were delivered, I was hoping a second food runner was following with a second plate of claws. The charcuterie board was good too. The meats on it were decent, but the stars for our table were the cheeses and jam, honey, and fixins that accompanied the meat. Brian and I enjoyed the Oysters Rockefeller too, but they didn’t necessarily stand out to me. 

Pre-dinner, Sydney and Laura each got a wedge salad. They wouldn’t shut up about it, they enjoyed it so much. I believe the wedge salad actually ended up being their favorite dish of the evening.
I ordered my second signature cocktail of the evening, Locals Only. This cocktail was also delicious, I believe I preferred the Ponte Vedra’s Hottest Margarita; but this one was cuter with it’s pink color and rim garnish.
Our dinners arrived, and we were all excited! I ordered the Seared New Bedford Day Boat Scallops. Scallops with this description of course had me salivating, ” roasted onion – applewood smoked bacon lobster cream – capellini pasta.” My scrumptious scallop dish was fantastic, and definitely lived up to my expectation! Sydney was equally as happy with her Mahi dish. Brian and Laura both ordered the Vidalia Crusted Grouper entree. They thought it was good, but lacking seasoning. Once they added salt from the table, they were a little happier.

Seared New Bedford Day Boat Scallops

Dessert was offered, but we were all too full. Our lovely server then enticed us with an espresso martini offer. Brian and I couldn’t say no. It was amazing, probably the best espresso martini I’ve ever had (Not that I’ve had a ton…).  

All in all, we were happy with our experience; but here is my thought process: Both of us (Each couple) drove 40- 45 minutes to get to the restaurant, which isn’t too far, but it’s certainly not convenient either. When touring each of the Jacksonville Magazine’s Top 50 Restaurants, my expectation is that our experience at each establishment will make me want to go out of my way or create an excuse to eat at these restaurants. So, though I am absolutely NOT unhappy with our experience on Saturday, I ‘m also not going to go out of my way or make a special trip back.

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