Flagler Beach, FL, June 20, 2016–
The Island Grille at the Topaz Hotel is located at 1224 Oceanshore Blvd. in Flagler Beach, 3 Miles east of I-95 (Exit 91) & 12 Blocks South of SR 100 and is truly a wonderful find! The Island Grille which is located inside the hotel was once a 1920’s private mansion owned by the one of the most successful landowners in the area, Dana Fuquay, and featured one of the first in-ground swimming pools in the area. Being raised in the Ormond Beach and Flagler areas, I can’t believe I haven’t found this place sooner being right in my own backyard! Especially, coming from someone who is always on the hunt for local history and smaller locally owned businesses.
Choose a brief drive either North from Ormond Beach or South from Palm Coast and St. Augustine and enjoy the great scenic views of the Atlantic Ocean along the way as you head to the Grille. Plenty of parking is available, as my co-worker and I observed one Thursday evening. Also, I couldn’t help but observe the buildings structure with its three distinctive archways in the front and the veranda that wrapped around the second floor. Towards the North side of the hotel you will see a ramp leading up to the restaurant’s outside seating area with an entrance to go to the inside dinning, or there is access from the main entrance of the hotel as well.
We chose to sit inside, but they also offer a lot of different sitting options with tables lining large windows in unique rooms that overlook A1A and the ocean and there is outside seating as well. As I looked around, the atmosphere has a really relaxed feeling and it instantly made me feel as though I was on vacation within their Island beach theme decor and a tiki bar located just inside the door. The restaurant’s other inside seating area transitions you back in time to the early 1920’s with antiques displayed throughout.
One of my favorite areas located within the restaurant can be found towards the west side of the building typically used during weekends for their famous Sunday Brunches. It has a large beautiful white modern stone mantel above an original brick fireplace. A painted portrait of Henry Flagler himself is centered above the mantel.
Our server, Michael, was very friendly and greeted us right away. Our meal started off with a salad consisting of a spring mix lettuce, blackened shrimp, sweet mandarin oranges, with speckled goat cheese, homemade candied walnuts and was blended with a light vinaigrette dressing. The eggroll appetizer had a modern twist to the classic eggroll and was delicious. In addition to cabbage, carrots, and celery, there are pieces of tender roast duck served with a spicy orange sauce on the side and it was presented on a plate lined with classic spicy mustard and soy sauces.
Our two main entrees were the specials for the evening comprised of a honey wasabi horseradish encrusted salmon with white rice infused with a hint of coconut, and sautéed zucchini, carrots, red onions which were seasoned lightly and perfectly cooked with just that little bit of crunch. It was paired with a white wine from New Zealand called 13 Celsius with fruity notes and wasn’t too sweet. It was one of the best white wines I’ve had in a long time.
The second entrée was boneless short ribs glazed with a plum tomatoes reduction served with fresh red mashed potatoes and a fresh vegetable melody on the side. It was paired with an excellent Merlot by Robert Hall Paso Robles California.
We were getting pretty full by this time, but who doesn’t have room for dessert, right? We tried the Crème Brule with fresh strawberries and blueberries on top. It’s a popular item because I overheard guests say they weren’t leaving without one. The sugar coating was outstanding! It was torched to perfection and not over burnt. I literally couldn’t stop eating it and knew I also had to try their lemon cake with fresh blueberries baked into the cake with cream cheese citrus filling.
Overall, the experience was wonderful! The atmosphere was pleasantly inviting and clean. The food was fantastic with Chef/owner Gary Maresca skills in the kitchen. The Island Grille offers daily specials and a good variety of options on their menu at reasonable prices.
Owners Joe Rizzo, David Ladin, Chris Zwirn, Carla Cline and Gary Maresca truly have a Florida Treasure on their hands. The Island Grille is open Monday – Thursday 7am-9pm, Friday & Saturday 7am-10pm, and a Sunday Brunch from 10am-2pm.
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If you would like more information about this topic, please contact Nichole Dominguez at 386-405-3404 or email at Nichole@awakelate.com.