Farm To Table Fresh at the Augustine Grille

At The Augustine Grille in Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida, Chef de Cuisine Brett Smith runs a class operation with a simple concept - seasonally influenced, fresh local ingredient-focused cuisine.

Sourcing ingredients from farms, creameries, ranches and vinyards where the people care deeply about the quality of what's coming to the table, he and his crew are creating honest, balanced dishes with integrity and genuine flavor.

On a recent visit with the Folio Weekly Bite Club,  we were treated to a sample of the best of the seasonal menu.

I'm still raving about it, and I can't wait to return to taste my way through the menu before our quiet beach town becomes the PGA Tour Golf fan zone. Welcome, The PLAYERS Championship visitors!

Freshly grown beets taste of earth and sugar and the minerals they draw from the soil. Peppery arugula and the beets came from Fresh Start Hydroponics - growers Chip and Connie Foy were seated at the next table. Before dinner, over cocktails and appetizers in the grand lobby, they treated us to a display of hydroponically grown lettuces, and explained the advantages of their technique.

Tasting was believing - wearing a light coating of shallot vinaigrette and a sprinkling of cracked pepper, sweet heat met earthy ripe Truffle Tremor Chevre - a particular favorite of ours from Cypress Grove Chevre in Arcata, California. On any given night, I could make a meal of this one plate, a slice or two of that bread, a glass of wine, and be perfectly happy. But on this occasion, we moved on to ecstatic. 

On the DelKat Family Farm in Hilliard, Del and Kathy Conner are raising all natural premium Berkshire pigs,without the use of medication, antibiotics, or growth hormones. 

Sweet and supple, the simple cut my grandma referred to as "fat back" and relegated to seasoning stews and pots of boiling potatoes was elevated to a gastronomic delight in this small plate of Pork Belly, Red Pea, Andouille and Greens

This was my single favorite dish of the evening. There is nothing more to say here - I'm gonna let that picture tell the tale.

The greens came to the table from Twinn Bridges Farms. I was seated next to farmers Scott and Denise Francis whom I'd had the pleasure of meeting recently at our local Beaches Green Market at Jarboe Park in Neptune Beach. 
I had just purchased a beautiful bunch of rainbow chard from their stand the Saturday prior, and it was a pleasure to break bread with them at the Augustine Grille over such a wonderful meal.
Every course was a special treat - house-baked fresh bread with sweet creamery butter followed an amuse bouche of fresh crab salad nestled in a crisped wonton wrapper in a playful take on crab rangoon.

Mayport shrimp, grits cake, greens and tasso gravy made their way to our table via Safe Harbor Seafood from Mayport, Florida, and Anson Mills (grits). 

The shrimp were perfectly cooked, but mine were much too salty  - my only complaint of the evening. The sweet grit cake held its own and soaked up the assertively spiced tasso nicely though.

A respectful hush fell over the crowd when the next course was served. House dry-aged, prime, natural strip loin, gnocchi, brussels sprouts were treated with the reverence afforded a PGA Tour superstar addressing the ball on the famed Island Green at 17. 

Creekstone Farms Black Angus beef is dry-aged on site for sixty days - concentrating the flavor and enhancing the tenderness. Nutty sweet baby Brussels sprouts and pillow-soft gnocchi stylishly accompanied. There was not a scrap left on my plate. 

Successful wine pairings were offered throughout the meal, and the red that accompanied this steak was a particularly nice house red from Long Meadow Ranch. It made perfect sense, supporting but not overpowering the meaty rich strip loin. 

Dessert. Crunch, Pot de Creme, Truffles. Silky cool vanilla pot de creme was contrasted by the heat of Graham's Tawny Port, lending notes of raisins and almond to the dish as it was sipped. The understated star of the show was the Crunch bar - a chocolate pastry crunch shell with a rich ganache topper that we lovingly referred to as an "Adult Kit-Kat." It was the topic of many a tweet that night and in the days following. If you have the opportunity to dine at the Augustine Grille, do not, I repeat, do not skip dessert.

When our dinner service was done, the chef brought the entire kitchen and front of the house crew out and introduced them to our group. We actually lept to our feet and gave them a standing ovation. I kid you not. I can't imagine dining there without doing that now, but I will endeavor to maintain a dignified exterior posture while my tastebuds are doing somersaults and backflips.

Thanks again to our hosts at the Augustine Grille, the Folio Weekly Bite Club, and all the purveyors whose life's passion was represented at our table. It's easy to see why Slow Food First Coast has awarded the Augustine Grille with its "Snail of Approval." Check them out and plan to join us on the upcoming Tour De Farm.

Augustine Grille on Urbanspoon

The Augustine Grille 
at the Sawgrass Marriott
1000 PGA TOUR Boulevard,
Ponte Vedra Beach, FL 32082


  1. I worked with Brett for several years and am glad the Grille is getting the praise it deserves!!

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