It must be a pretty cool place when your excitement to blog about it is even a good fraction of the excitement of your actual visit. This post we’re talking about food (really delicious, gluten-free food), so I can’t say writing fully matches the excitement of eating all of this deliciousness (that would just be weird…). I am pretty excited to write this post though (especially to make other gluten-frees aware of this place). Writing this post comes right after finishing a post on another favorite from St. Augustine- the St Augustine Distillery- so no worries about losing motivation.
I’ve gotten pretty good at tracking down gluten-free options when traveling (Yelping, finding blogs, lists, just results from Google) and St. Augustine was presenting some solid options. I already had some biscuits and gravy (which was a first) at Creative Juices Natural Cafe. One other place that certainly caught my attention from my research was The Floridian, which some posts claimed had gluten-free chicken and waffles. Similar to the biscuits and gravy, this was something I’d never had before (gluten-free or otherwise). Unfortunately I couldn’t find the chicken and waffles on their menu, but the menu was very clear about what could be made gluten-free and there were some really good options.
The Floridian was competing (in terms of priority) with a restaurant a little bit south of St. Augustine with gluten-free crab cakes (Mantanzas Innlet Restaurant). The menu at Mantanzas stayed consistent between lunch and dinner, while The Floridian had a number of things I wanted to try only on the dinner menu. Thus The Floridan it was for my one dinner in St. Augustine (don’t worry Mantanzas and gluten-free crab cakes is coming later!).
After my tour of the Distillery I wasn’t that hungry, so I went and explored the Historic District and got to The Floridian around 7 or 7:30. The place was very busy and the wait was going to be about 45 minutes to an hour (even for a solo eater like me). There is a small bar of 5-6 chairs, but these were all full. I decided to put in my name and went and walked around some more.
When my table was ready I received a text and headed back. They set me up at a table outside on a little deck, which was perfect. Now I just needed to decide what I was going to get… Some decisions are easy, like the decision to get the Church Picnic Chicken. It’s cornmeal-fried chicken breast with fingerling potatoes, arugula, bacon, and corn salad mixed with some basil aioli. There then is a cherry tomato salsa and herb pesto oil on top of the chicken. Yes that is gluten-free! Now can you see why I was so excited to write this post?!
Now beyond that, decisions at the Floridian about what would be good to eat still are easy, but narrowing it down to a reasonable amount of what you should actually order is what’s difficult. A spicy melt sandwich with fish, pickled pepper shrimps, a Georgia cheese board, pork and corn fritters, and chips and dips were all things that caught my interest and were (or could be made) gluten-free. I ended up going for pork and corn fritters (Fritters Sandia), which came stuffed with goat cheese.
Neither decision disappointed at all. The fritters were soft and moist with some great flavor from the pork, corn, and goat cheese. This was definitely what I like to call a gluten-free guilty pleasure, because the kind of fluffy-almost-fried-doughy-texture makes your brain think you must be eating gluten. The goat cheese especially made it creamy and all around a total package of flavor and texture. It was a good sized dish for just one person, but I was not going to let some silly stomach lining stop me from enjoying all of it.
The Church Picnic Chicken was spectacular visually, tactilely, and gustatorially (shockingly for how much I write about food I had to look up the word for sense of taste). I’ll admit a small part of me first was like “dang this is gonna look awesome on Instagram!” I took a good number of shots, but then needed to take a bite ASAP (despite being well satisfied by the fritters). I was very happy with the “fried chicken-ness.” Sometimes the breading on gluten-free fried chicken/chicken tenders can peel off easily and that was not the case here. There was a lot of crunch and spice from just the chicken itself. The menu has the arugula, potatoes, etc. tossed in a basil aioli and the overall dish finished with herb pesto oil. The sauce on the chicken seemed more like a creamy aioli to me than an oil. I didn’t think carefully enough while tasting to try and figure out basil vs. herb pesto, but regardless of what it was it was delicious. On the flip side whatever was flavoring the potatoes, arugula, bacon, etc. was also doing a great job. There were a lot of great complementary flavors and textures (crunchy, soft, juicy, whatever texture you use to describe arugula haha). This was a dang good dish and a gluten-frees dream!
I was stuffed! From the moment I finished my meal until the waitress came back I was convinced I was done. She asked if I wanted dessert and I hesitated, but what’s the harm in at least hearing what there is gluten-free. Right?… I had a strong feeling I was going to regret it, but I went for the brownie with sea salt caramel and whip cream to go. I ended up walking around St. Augustine at night for a while before eating it back at my hotel. It was delicious don’t get me wrong, but brownies aren’t my go-to dessert and I think it was just too much food and too much sugar in that moment (after having too much sugar all day). That’s no reflection on the brownie itself though, which was quite a heavenly combination of chocolate, caramel, and whip cream.
I’m not going lie The Floridian ranks towards the top of one of my most enjoyable meals in general. A lot of delicious, high quality, “comfort” food, while also being quite gourmet and having a lot of flavors and textures. The fritters were a gluten-y, cheesy delight and the fried chicken was just an overall excellent dish on top of just being gluten-free fried chicken! Hands down (actually hand buried deep in the ground), I’d highly recommend The Floridian to anyone in St. Augustine for its delicious food and atmosphere, but it gets a shake-you-by-the-shoulders-urgent recommendation for gluten-frees!
The Floridian- 39 Cordova Street St. Augustine, FL 32084