By Dane Feldman
Photo by Dane Feldman.
PLAE, like the Verandah, is located in the Omni Amelia Island Plantation Resort on Amelia Island, Florida. It is also one of my family's favorite spots to dine when we are in Amelia Island because the menu is often eclectic and the service is great.
This year, my parents and I each enjoyed our own salad (romaine lettuce, tomatoes, roasted chickpeas, cucumber, carrots, hearts of palm, brie, and balsamic dressing) followed by seared ahi tuna with seaweed salad and three dipping sauces. For my main course, I ordered the cedar plank salmon with caramelized grits and granny smith apple jam, which was served with mushrooms and green beans. These grits had to be the best I've ever had.
PLAE has small plates, medium plates, and large plates, so sometimes when we dine there we share everything. This time around, all three of us were sure we wanted an entree, but PLAE is definitely a great place to share.
I ordered a salty dog (vodka, fresh grapefruit juice, and a salt rim), which I enjoyed. The salty dog is my go-to whenever I'm at PLAE, but it's not quite the highlight of my meal the way the cocktails at the Verandah sometimes are.
The service at PLAE is what really makes this restaurant so unforgettable. My parents and I like to dine there on our last night of the trip each year because it's closer to where we stay than downtown Fernandina Beach making it a bit more stress free the night before a flight. This time around, when my mom called to make a reservation she was notified that the restaurant was bought out by a party of 50 and so it wouldn't be open to the public.
She told the hostess over the phone how much we enjoy dining at PLAE and that we saved dining at PLAE specifically for our last night in the area. The hostess put the owner and head chef on the phone who immediately promised to seat us as long as we didn't mind sitting in the bar area. My mom agreed.
When we arrived, we were seated at a table in the bar area where only one other group was dining. The jazz band played in the far corner just softly enough that it wasn't intrusive. Our waitress checked with us to make sure we were comfortable regarding the party in the other room and, of course, we didn't mind. After taking our order, the waitress came back with complimentary salads. Already we knew we would be treated well despite the attention given to the party.
When we finished dinner, the chef/owner came out to thank us for being flexible. He gave us complimentary honey cake and brownies to take home and had a long conversation with my mom about how he remembered us from our last visit.
The food at PLAE is definitely great, but knowing that we received such wonderful treatment from a knowledgeable and helpful group of wait staff made our experience that much more enjoyable.