Jacksonville’s new TasteCasting team recently assembled at one of Jacksonville’s Top 25 restaurants and perennial favorite – bb’s – where we were treated to a four course tasting menu – courtesy of owners Barbara and Karin. Our host for the evening was Executive Chef Carlos Ramirez.
Originally from Columbia and trained at Johnson and Wales, Chef Ramirez’ prowess in the kitchen is matched by his attentiveness to the restaurant’s clientele. He spent a great deal of time with our TasteCasting team, thoroughly describing each dish as it was presented and answering all of our questions.
We were treated as honored guests, and we are grateful for the special attention paid to our group by of one of Jacksonville’s premier chefs.
To begin our tasting we were treated to a Shrimp Bisque – creamy and sweet like shrimp fresh from the sea, with just enough heat.
Next up was an assortment of salads. bb’s is one of Jacksonville’s power lunch spots, and their salads are a local favorite.
Mediterranean Chicken Salad boasts shredded white meat of chicken on a bed of greens, with tender haricots vert, briny kalamata olives, sweet grape tomatoes, tangy, full flavored feta cheese and a bright, light lemon herb vinaigrette.
Pan Asian Chop Chop Salad is a study in contrasting tastes and textures – field greens with juicy grilled chicken, macadamia nuts, pickled ginger, rice noodles, sweet soy, wasabi drizzle and sesame ginger vinaigrette.
Grilled Salmon Salad reminded us of autumn – chargrilled salmon served on a bed of greens over a dried fruit and nut couscous, and topped with a dollop of pumpkinseed pesto.
A personal favorite is the Goat Cheese Salad –
Field greens are tossed with sweet slivers of Medjool dates, candied walnuts and strips of Black Forest ham. Warm, tangy goat cheese is nestled in thickly sliced toasted baguette and drizzled with honey.
Crispy Fried Rock Shrimp salad was dressed with tangerine cream and a lemon herb vinaigrette. The sweet little shrimp were studded with black sesame seeds.
The entrees showcased a range of flavor profiles, while bringing into focus the Chef’s Latin heritage.
Sofrito Spiced Half Chicken was earthy and filling. Topped with fried onions and served with saffron rice pilaf, baby spinach, and drizzled with mojo infused aioli.
One taster’s Chargrilled Skirt Steak was perfectly cooked – i
t came with chorizo whipped potatoes, roasted plum tomato, caramelized onions and cilantro chimichurri She was quite taken with the addition of chorizo to the whipped potatoes. A simple pairing – almost instinctive – and brilliantly executed. Subtle touches like these define the bb’s experience.
Grilled Wahoo was topped with parmesan-peppercorn crust and served alongside a lighter than air sweet corn and shrimp fritter and haricots verte. Arugula-lemon pesto and white truffle aioli elevated the dish to something truly memorable.
Cellentani Pasta was perfectly cooked and sauced with a rustic pomodoro, studded with clams, spicy Italian sausage
, onions and zucchini, and finished with dollops of goat cheese.
One benefit to tasting size portions is that we got this far and still had room for dessert!
There is something for everyone in the dessert case at bb’s and sister restaurant Biscottis. There are ten to sixteen dessert selections on any given day, and the selection changes hourly.
Their desserts are widely considered to be some of the best in town. Desserts like these are an obligatory indulgence.
We enjoyed tasting portions of a few of the most popular selections. Dessert portions are ample, and sharing is encouraged.
Among the selections the night we visited:
White Chocolate Raspberry Cheesecake Cake
PeanutButter Mousse Cake
Cappucino Mousse Cake
The Classic Carrot Cake with cream cheese frosting was a team favorite. Incredibly moist, dense and flavorful.
bb’s Chocolate Truffle Cake is legendary – this taster recommends a jammy Cabernet to sip along with it.
It would be easy to overlook the Croissant Bread Pudding with all the fancy cakes and tortes beckoning from behind the gleaming dessert case, but do yourself a favor and try it next time you’re there. It is worth every calorie. Our tasters kept coming back to it, even after tasting just about every offering in the dessert case!
bb’s is consistently voted one of the top 25 best restaurants in Jacksonville by numerous local publications, and has received the wine spectator ‘award of excellence’ year after year.
They boast an award winning wine list with over 50 wines by the glass, many $7 and under,and a full bar – they make fab martinis and mojitos! They have catering and take-out menus as well. Also worth noting is bb’s Brunch menu – served Saturdays 11am – 2pm.
A big, warm Thank You to Barbara and Karin, the staff at bb’s, and especially Chef Carlos Ramirez.
bb’s truly is a groovy place to b!
1019 Hendricks Ave. Jacksonville, Fl
Hours: Monday – Thursday 11am – 10:30pm
Friday and Saturday 11am – midnight
Post photos courtesy of TasteCasting team members Jodi Kasten, Stacy Starling and Nancy White.