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ROAD TRIP: St. Augustine

Great food, awesome tunes, FRIENDSHIP!

By Mike Sanford, GLOB Editor

T042219GASsfhinking about a Road Trip to St. Augustine for a first time experience at the St. Augustine Amphitheater with Gainesville Lunch Out Blog Image Editor Erica Corbett to see rising singer-songwriter Leon Bridges, and dinner with my daughter Jana and her husband Chris Heller and their children Penelope and Leo has literally been all I have been thinking about for the past few weeks.

Add on top of that information I am finally going to the GAS Full Service restaurant to give their Jalapeno Popper Burger a try. The Food Channel's Bobby Deen call's the Jalapeno Burger the 'Grand Canyon of guilt." Last Summer Chris sent me a link and an image of this deep fried orb of goodness and I've been thinking about it ever since.

Erica is a ninth generation St. Augustinian and Gas was also her selection for dinner since it was closed to the Amphitheater and our entertainment venue for the evening.


GAS is a hip, retro-modern, reasonably priced hot spot favored by the locals. It's worlds away from touristy historic district spots in so many ways. The retro theme may be kitsch and cheeky, but the menu is modern, updating comfort food with an emphasis on burgers. For those looking to be a little better in the health department, there's some divine tofu, marinated in mojo and grilled. As with most hipster spots these days, there's a very worthy craft beer list here.

Gas has a varied menu of entrees including OFF THE HOOK seafood, including a catch-of-day, and shrimp. The red meat protein selection from the BUTCHER'S BLOCK are a rib eye steak, flank steak, and a char-grilled double cut pork chop pork chop entrée that really sound delicious. The DINNER FARE category of the menu includes six options including a portobello mushroom with marinated tomatoes, provolone, basil with wild mushroom, roasted garlic cream sauce.

The Gas Daily Blackboard special was Fresh Flounder with Baby Asparagus. FOLLOW THIS LINK for a complete Gas Full Service menu with entrée prices.



With a table of six of us counting Penelope and baby Leo Heller went started with starter of a plate of crudités and Pimento cheese spread, and the deep fried Gar Restaurant Reuben Rolls with corned beef, sauer kraut, Swiss cheese and Ranch dressing. The egg rolls were a nice choice. Split in half the four rolls were plenty for the four adults. Crispy, crunchy, with outstanding sauer kraut flavor these deep fried belly bombs fit the pre-meal spot slathered in sauce.

The Pimento Cheese had me thinking Elvis all the way thank you very much. Right out of the refrigerator the cheese spread on the crackers very nicely making this southern boy feel right at home.



Being the manly men we like to think we are Chris and I selected the J Popper Burger: A half pound burger stuffed with cream cheese, cheddar cheese and grilled jalapenos topped with lettuce, tomato, and onion for dinner. Chris choose some really yummy looking French fries. I opted for cole slaw as my side order.

Erica and I chose the sharing route and she enjoyed half of myJ. Burger and chose the Blackened Flounder and Baby Asparagus menu board special, image at top of this feature.



Jana went the veggie route and selected the Veggie Cuban Burger with Mojo marinated tempeh, topped with Swiss cheese, sauteed onions, Cuban mustard aioli, dell pickles on a pressed bun.

Conversation subsided as we devoured our fabulous pre-show meal. Over heard at the dinner table:

zzGLOBbullet 042218mug200EATING AT THE GAS FULL SERVICE RESTAURANT in St. Augustine brought a small sense of pride to this St. Augustine native's heart. The service from the minute we walked in was warm and accommodating.

David, the son of the owners, was ready to seat our group and suggested we take up more room rather than less so that we wouldn't feel crowded or crown other customers, which is not often the case with restaurants that have a smaller dining area and look to pack as many people as possible into their space.

The food was fresh and I loved that there were plenty of healthy options to choose from that accommodated the palates of young children as well as the health needs of carb-counting dieters like the GLOB Master.

The restaurant boasts a large wine and alcohol menu that was more reminiscent of the West rather than the East Coast yet still has many local options. It was nice to have a selection of craft beers on tap as well as new tastings in bottle or can. Our server, Lindsay was happy to provide tastings of anything before we decided on a refreshing and tasty Strawberry-Lime Abita.

My favorite food of the night was the appetizer of Reuben Rolls. While decadent, I was able to savor the taste of two of the five that arrived on a large plate without feeling full. This tasting was a delicious take on an old favorite.

The main course was light and flavorful. I choose the catch of the day, Flounder, which was perfectly cooked. I ordered it blackened but had the option of fried or grilled as well. It came with two sides of my choosing: I picked asparagus and creamed spinach.

Overall GAS is a restaurant perfect for a night out on the town and a treat out with young children and family. I will be returning to enjoy other entrees off of their extensive dinner menu.

- Erica Corbett



The Jalapeno Burger was good. I admire Chris 'both handing' his half pounder and eating it with burly, real-man gusto. I attacked my burger with excitement – and a knife and fork -- and was pleasantly surprised the jalapeno peppers added just the right amount of heat to a very juicy, tasty red meat protein. The gooey-ness addition of the two cheeses added a sublime, deliciousness as the cheese melted onto my plated encasing burger fall-out for additional enjoyable bites.

The Flounder Special would be my choice of the best entrée of the evening. The fresh flounder was cooked perfectly and the blackened seasoning was magical adding much character to the flounder filet palette.



Dessert. We actually ate dessert after all of that banquet like food! The desserts are made from scratch every day and ours was a Caramel, Sea Salt Brownie that was creamy, almost pudding like chocolate brownie, a mountain of whipped cream with dollops of caramel and chocolate sauce on the side.

OMG GLOBers! What a way to end an extraordinary meal with a table full of very special folks.




Up & Coming R & B bluer star Leon Bridges brought the full house St. Augustine Amphitheater crowd alive with a standing room only crowd of dancing-in-the-aisle music lovers. The back-up band was tight, the dual lead guitars impressive. Leon Bridges reminded me of Mick Jagger the way he was all over the stage eliciting assistance from the audience in a very fun sing along way. This artist has the music chops to go a very long way GLOBers.

"I don't like to write flashy soul songs," says Bridges in a Billboard interview. "I'm writing from the heart, stories about family and truth. I just want people to see a genuine person."

What an amazing show of a very talented singer songwriter.



Erica said it best as we walked back to our car after the magnificent show: "I will thank Jana and Chris for having dinner with us and for the gift of the tickets," she said still aglow with a fabulous evening. "Please tell Janat she was right, the show was incredible and I feel so lucky to have the chance to see Leon Bridges in such a great, intimate venue."

XO Sauce love letter

In Hong Kong in the 1980s, when expensive Cognac was all the rage, legend has it that some smart cook at the Spring Moon restaurant got it into his head to name the funky new condiment he'd come up with after the status mark on a bottle of Rémy Martin: "XO," extra old, rare, very expensive. The stuff was a hit. By the end of the decade, XO sauce was on menus all over Hong Kong and eventually the world.

As reported on the NEW YORK TIMES website with recipe - LEARN MORE

Genetics makes you feel full

The study subjects had been thin all their lives, and not because they had unusual metabolisms. They just did not care much about food. Now, a group of researchers in Britain may have found the reason. The people carry a genetic alteration that mutes appetite. It also greatly reduces their chances of getting diabetes or heart disease.

As reported onthe NEW YORK TIMES website - READ MORE

Flower remembers its pollinators

Can you remember what you did yesterday? If not, you might want to take a lesson from Nasa poissoniana, a star-shaped flowering plant from the Peruvian Andes with an unusual skill set. The discovery joins others recently painting an ever-broader picture of what plants can sense, learn and do. The study, although small and preliminary, "presents a promising and intriguing new system to study plant memory," said Peter Crisp.

As reported on the NEW YORK TIMES website with video - READ MORE

About that insect apocalypse

The journal Biological Conservation published findings from a study about global insect decline that did what few such scientific journal articles ever do: It hit the front pages of major media outlets around the world. The paper found that one-third of all insect species are in serious decline around the globe and, if trends don't improve, we could face near mass extinction of all insects within the next century.

As reported in this CIVIL EATS Q&A - LEARN MORE

In praise of Schmaltz

Alana Newhouse reached into her freezer and grabbed an icy hunk of frozen chicken fat and skin. She shaved off about two cups, letting it fall into a greased pan. "It's supposed to cook slow and low for a long time," she explained.  This is a story about schmaltz, in both senses of the word. It is a story about rendered chicken fat — a golden dream, a masterpiece of umami — and it is also a story about two Jewish women who were complete strangers, but got together to render said chicken fat.

As reported on the GRUB STREET website with recipe - COOK MORE

The many myths of yogurt

I grew up believing yogurt had limitless, bordering on magical, abilities. It could clear up acne, or help with a tricky bout of diarrhea. There are a surprising number of legends centered on yogurt floating around. With help from experts, and some deep digging, I went through each of these yogurt myths to find out which are based in truth and which are just folklore.

As reported on the TASTE website - LEARN MORE

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