Restaurant Review: Kitchen on San Marco, Jacksonville FL

Once I turned 21, the Gastropub quickly became one of my favorite kinds of restaurants. I like to go out to bars with friends. When a bar offers food as well, it makes then environment to hangout and relax so much easier. If someone gets hungry, you don’t need to leave. Everyone can get what they want.

Gastropubs are a hybrid between a bar and a restaurant. Now yes, it’s true that many bars serve food. Likewise, most restaurants serve alcohol. It’s really the expectations that are setup by labeling your place of business a gastropub that sets it apart from other places within the food industry. A gastropub typically offers a higher quality, elevated, and fresher experience from the rest. It doesn’t just serve drinks. They create their own using flavors you won’t find anywhere else. Likewise, it doesn’t just offer bar food. Gastropubs take bar food and elevates it to a whole new level. It finds a way to balance familiar flavors with new experiences. The best gastropubs take their unique food and drinks and use them to form their own identity.

Naturally, one of the first spots my wife and I found when we moved out to the west coast was a gastropub. When we moved back to FL, I searched for the same thing. I am happy to say that I think I finally found that place in Jacksonville. Located near the riverside area on San Marco road, Kitchen on San Marco offers a gastropub experience with southern flair.

Kitchen on San Marco Front

Walking into Kitchen on San Marco, I was caught by the atmosphere and service. I made a reservation online ahead of time. We were shown to our table immediately, there was no waiting. I should note that they were not busy at the time. I assume we would have been seated immediately even without the reservation. It was nice to have the option to make one. It picked up by the time we were leaving with satisfied patrons enjoying their meals and time. The restaurant featured a large bar seating area, roomy booths, and high top tables. The atmosphere was warm and inviting. It seemed like the kind of place that allowed for both a nice dinner, or a place to relax and keep the drinks flowing – the perfect combination for a gastropub. Our server was super friendly. She knew the menu well and kept the drinks refilled. She checked on us frequently, but wasn’t annoying. Continue reading

Cook the Blog Returns

March 16, 2014. That was my last blog post. It has been awhile. After almost a year and a half, Cook the Blog emerges from the shadows reinvigorated and ready to discuss food, restaurants, recipes, travel, and life. But why now? And what took so long? Did I get lazy?

In short, yes, yes I did. But there’s much more to it than that. As with most things in life, my time off from the blog was not due to a black or white reason. It was due to many grey, green, blue, black, white, and purple reasons. Not to mention all of the red reasons – way too many red reasons.

When I look back at my original blog entries, they seem kind of sterile. With this second go around at the blog, I hope to fix the tone. I want to inject this blog with personality. Make it feel like my food blog, rather than a generic food blog. With that in mind, please allow me to explain my absence.

The last time I was constantly, actively writing on this blog was mid-2013, right before I got married. In July of 2013 I married my high school sweetheart (and the love of my life). At that point, we had already been together for 8 years. I really didn’t expect anything to be different, partially because we had lived together for years before getting married. What I have learned from the experience thus far is that no matter how well you know a person, no matter how long you have been with them, you never truly begin to build a life with someone until you get married. It takes effort, energy, and hard work to build that life and honor that commitment. It took me longer than it should have to figure this out. Now that I have, I work every day to ensure I am the best husband I can be.

Wedding Photo

After a quick honeymoon, we were off for adventure.  Continue reading

Recipe: Broccoli Casserole

I know, it’s been awhile. This is my first real post in months. All I can say is, life happens. 2013 was a busy year for me. Probably the busiest year of my life. I ended 2012 by finishing my Master’s degree. What followed can only be called the domino effect. Finishing my degree led me to many job interviews and eventually a new (and wonderful) job. In 2013, I spent a lot of time working with my fiancée on our wedding and finally tying the knot. Then, my wife finished her degree and got a new job…in Portland. We spent a week driving across the country. Ever since then we have been adjusting to a new life. If you are reading in Tallahassee, if you want more restaurant reviews, keep reading. I have been visiting FL quite frequently. I still have reviews in FL to post. But, this blog is expanding. We plan on having more adventure, and I want you to come along for the ride.

This brings me to my first new recipe in a long time. This recipe is nothing fancy, but it’s important to me. This is a family staple. This is typically a side dish that we serve at any family event. I associate this dish as a side dish to any major holiday, especially Thanksgiving. Shortly after we moved to Portland, I was craving this dish, but I didn’t want to spend the time to make a Turkey or Brisket to go with it. That’s where my twist to this dish came in. I added chicken to the dish to make it a full meal. No side dish needed.

Normally, my recipes tend to take more time to make because I like to make the entire meal from scratch. When I have time, I make my pasta from scratch. This isn’t necessary for this dish. I made this once making the soup and the biscuit topping from scratch. For whatever reason, it didn’t that much of a difference. I reverted back to making it the way it has always been made in my house.

The best part of this recipe is that it scales easily. This is the easiest dish to make a bigger or smaller portion for. It can be eye balled for the most part how to increase or decrease the ingredient amount. For the purpose of this recipe, it assumes that the dish is being made in a 13×9 casserole dish.

Ingredients:

Bisquick (about 2 Cups)
¼ Cup Milk
1 Can Cream of Mushroom Soup
½ Small Onion
1 Bag Frozen Broccoli
1 Clove of Garlic
Butter (about 3 – 4 Tablespoons)
Chicken (about 1 full sized chicken breast)
Shredded Cheddar Cheese
Olive Oil (about 2 Teaspoons)
¼ White wine (can easily be replace with water or chicken stock)
½ Teaspoon Garlic Powder
Salt
Pepper

Continue reading

Virtual Blog Tour: Crazy Dumplings Cookbook

Hi everyone. I first wanted to start by saying a big THANK YOU to everyone who participated in the Cooking Planit giveaway. I was very happy with the response I received. A winner has been chosen. I will announce the name as soon as I get confirmation from Cooking Planit that the spices have shipped. Keep reading for more giveaways in the future.

CrazyDumplings

Now I have a special treat. A new cookbook is coming out via kickstarter soon and the author is currently on a virtual book (or blog) tour. Today, I am going to share with you some information about the cookbook and a few of the recipes as a sneak preview. The cookbook is called Continue reading