Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Chef Gerald's Is Cozy, Expensive and Worth It

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Chef Gerald's Is Cozy, Expensive and Worth It

Article excerpt

Byline: BELINDA HULIN, The Times-Union

Although recently opened, Chef Gerald's in Ponte Vedra Beach has all the ingredients of a beloved neighborhood restaurant.

The space is small and intimate and a little off the beaten track. The decor is comfortably low-key, the service efficient and friendly, and the patrons -- whether they know each other or not -- seem to have a sense of camaraderie. The menu offers enough variety to stave off boredom on repeat visits and the prices -- well, there you've got me.

Chef Gerald's prices qualify as a neighborhood restaurant only if you live on one of the better-heeled avenues of Ponte Vedra Beach. For the rest of us, it's a bit of a splurge. A worthwhile splurge, but a splurge nonetheless.

On a recent, rainy evening, my husband and I took refuge in Chef Gerald's window-walled dining room to sample the kitchen's self-described "global flavors." A first course of Chicken & Andouille Gumbo ($6) took the chill off the evening quite effectively. As a Louisiana native, it also warmed my heart to find an authentic, roux-based, properly-seasoned gumbo at a local restaurant. We were served a generous bowl of dark soup, studded with tender pieces of chicken and sausage, plus just the right amount of okra and tomatoes.

A more elegant, but no less satisfying, starter was the Jumbo Lump Blue Crab Strudel ($11), a buttery, flaky pastry envelope generously filled with hot, tender pillows of crabmeat. A pool of tropical fruit coulis added a refreshing grace note to the dish.

Entrees include a range of adventurous preparations, including game and buffalo brisket. My husband decided on Live Maine Lobster ($22 per pound), which turned out to be a wonderful choice. Unless I'm at a lobster hut in Maine, I usually avoid whole lobster in restaurants because most arrive chewy at best and rubbery at worst. …

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