October 17, 2023
The revamped space boasts seven unique dining areas that exude a big city vibe and old steakhouse flair. As you enter the establishment, the bar area is divided into two distinct spaces for the raw bar and the Alley Cat Lounge (a tip of the hat to Vicki Dugan, the previous owner, for her love of cats). The Velvet Room, designed like an old speakeasy, offers an intimate experience that’s perfect for enjoying oysters and champagne. If you’re looking for a larger space, head to the Garden Room which can be used for meetings or private dinners. For those who want to enjoy the outdoors, the Oak Bar and additional seating are perfect for Sunday brunch or cheering on the Jaguars on a pleasant fall afternoon.
Not only does City Grille and Raw Bar offer exceptional fine dining, but it also pays homage to the past. The wine racks from the former establishment have been preserved in the Tuscan room, and the Tree House room overlooks the 300-year-old tree on the back patio, which customers of the Wine Cellar will remember.
We are seated for what transpires into one of the most exceptional dining experiences of Cinda’s Cellar. As we enjoy our craft cocktails, Executive Chef Kevin Gaston and the former electrical engineer turned level one Sommelier, John Nagy, collaborate to create the perfect recipe and wine pairing for this month’s issue. The duo has worked together for over a decade, and their expertise is evident. It’s decided that our 2019 Keenan Cab Franc will pair best with their Seared Foie Gras and the 30-day dry-aged steak, topped with a black fruit compote, demi-glace, and asparagus.
Gaston heads to the kitchen to prepare the main course while we are treated next to a sampling of delicious mentions from the raw bar—Oysters Romanoff with a bit of Taittinger Brut Champagne, a delightful Hamachi crudo paired with a 2022 Nortico Alvarinho, and a delectable escargot in tarragon scampi butter with a 2022 Brotte “Esprit” Côtes du Rhône. As the evening progresses, discussion turns to the couple’s love for design, food, and travel and which places have most inspired the menus. The evening finishes with a bananas foster bread pudding and a tawny Port.
Although not every meal can always be this decadent, the event of dining together can always be revered. The restaurant will soon feature wine dinners on its event calendar, so stay tuned for more exquisite meals. Dining together is a generous way to give our time to one another, so gather your friends and family and indulge in one of the best presentations of food and wine in Jacksonville.