By Dane Feldman
Photo by Dane Feldman.
The Verandah is located in the Omni Amelia Island Plantation Resort on Amelia Island, Fla. I’ll start by saying that this restaurant is one of my all time favorites, of Florida or elsewhere.
The menu at the Verandah doesn’t change often, which I can certainly appreciate considering how fresh and nuanced the menu items are. This trip to Amelia Island garnered two dinners at the Verandah and both nights I ordered the same entree.
During this trip’s first visit, my parents and I ordered raw oysters on the half shell and fried green tomatoes to start. Before bringing out the appetizers, the waitress served us warm corn bread and a delicious corn succotash amuse bouche on the house. I had forgotten that we were served the same amuse bouche back in April.
For dinner, we all ate the Blue Point crab encrusted grouper served over mashed potatoes and topped with a frisee garnish.
The second time we dined, we ordered the Verandah Sampler appetizer, which came with crab cakes, fried green tomatoes, and barbecue shrimp. I ordered the crab encrusted grouper again for my main course.
The Verandah earns bonus points for their homemade habanero mango hot sauce, which they bottle themselves. I’m pretty sure my mom has had dreams about the stuff.
The Verandah has one of my favorite cocktail menus out there. The Southern Basil-Berry Smash (Woodford Reserve bourbon, Dry Sack sherry, Cointreau, fresh lemon juice, and muddled basil and strawberries) is a drink I have tried–and failed– to concoct as perfectly on my own. I ordered this cocktail during the first dinner, but had to try the Indian Summer Martini the second time around.
The Indian Summer is essentially a beefed up gimlet, with Hendrick’s gin, St. Germain, and fresh lime juice. The elderflower notes from the St. Germain really took this cocktail to the next level for me. I think I’ll be making my gimlets with St. Germain from now on.
From the consistent complementary amuse bouche and the homemade hot sauce to the knowledge of the wait staff, the service at the Verandah is hard to beat. We hadn’t visited the restaurant in nearly six months, but we were remembered and treated as if we were regulars. We qualify as regulars as much as anyone, though, considering how far away we live. The Verandah is a true dining pleasure and certainly shouldn’t be skipped if ever you find yourself on the plantation.