Article written by: Jillian Hillard
To create the perfect brunch, there are a few MUST elements. Most obvious, great food and company, but add in perfect weather and a picturesque setting, and voilà!
Let’s start by creating the setting. Nestled just on the outskirts of St. Augustine is the town of Lincolnville. With a rich history of its own, it’s hard not to stare in awe at its many Victorian-style homes, and particularly the large and lovely Victorian-style house with a wraparound porch just next to a sign sharing the town’s historic significance. The house is home to restaurant and bed and breakfast cleverly called Preserved due to all the time spent to restore it to its former Victorian glory. Charmingly enough, it was formerly owned by Thomas Jefferson’s daughter Maria Jefferson Shine and her husband,Dr. William F. Shine. With a reservation ready, we were seated on the porch at their version of the Chef’s Table, which had a window that peaked into the kitchen where all the magic of preparation was happening. Top this off with the sun shining in at 75 degrees with a slight breeze coming in from the salty shores at the perfect time of 11am on a Saturday, and your table is set for the perfect brunch.
As with any idea brunch, spirits are a necessity and Preserved did not disappoint. We all went the route of mimosas, but each with its own twist. Matt settled on tradition with his classic orange juice mimosa, while my mother and I ventured out – her trying the Poinsettia and myself the Shrubmosa. Each were stupendously delicious in their own right and hit the spot in providing that little morning kick you can’t get from coffee. A Poinsetta traditionally features cranberry juice, Cointreau and a hint of orange be it from juice or zest. A Shrubmosa can be many things, but you have to discover this particular one to truly understand its pun-intended, intoxication.
The next element and perhaps the most weighted, the food. Our noticeably British waiter had the gift of persuasion for as soon as he said “shall we start you with our homemade, warm blueberry scones with rhubarb jam,” the only answer was “yes.” So fresh you might mistake it for a cinnamon bun-scone hybrid, they were melt in your mouth good.
The highlight had to be the main entrees and when I mentioned an element of a perfect brunch is company that to me means company who is willing to share their dishes for a true sampling of the many offerings. I went with the eggs benedict with crispy prosciutto. You know you are at a great brunch spot when they don’t ask “how you would like your eggs poached,” they just make them the way they are supposed to be made. My only critique of this dish is it left me wanting a bit more of the crispy pieces of prosciutto as they were somewhat spearing. I had convinced my mom to get their other version of eggs benedict with 102 bridge eggs and cornflour fried oysters … it was the right choice. After my bite, all I could mutter was, “It tastes of everything in the South.” And if that wasn’t Southern enough, Matt’s dish came next, the classic Shrimp & Grits with antebellum grits, Florida white shrimp, crisp bacon and creamed corn. Southern cuisine is all about comfort and I could have curled up on the porch after eating this and dozed in the warm sunshine a happy lady.
The perfect brunch, with two of my favorite people. We left bellies full and ready to take on the St. Augustine Distillery.
Learn more about James Beard nominated Chef Brian Whittington, Preserved’s local food culture and its history at www.preservedrestaurant.com.