It takes a little over three hours to drive from our house to Fernandina Beach, Florida. The car was piled high with beach gear, two toddlers, a wiener dog and our co-dependent anxiety ridden Jack Russell terrier. By the time we arrived at the condo our nerves were shot from listening to the little people strapped in the car seats complain and keeping the dogs from driving us into a semi. We needed a drink, something to eat and walked across the street to The Surf.
The Surf is located on at 3199 S. Fletcher Ave (A1-A) in a sprawling white and deep sea foam green building. The weather was beautiful and we opted to sit on the deck. A solo musician with a guitar played on t he deck as the patrons sipped beers and other cold drinks. A spot in the shade opened up and we slid into the table with the kids in tow. The table was plastic and looked like it came from a pool store. The chairs were made of PVC and covered with blue nylon cushions that sagged and creaked. In another place they would be annoying, but at a beach joint they were perfect. It was a chill atmosphere and just what we needed to start our vacation.
Our waitress appeared with crayons for the kids and took our drink order. Becky and I both ordered a beers. My Pacifico arrived in a pint glass and the first sip taken with a view of the ocean immediately relaxed me. Looking over the menu The Surf offers a variety of items including salads, sandwiches, and a variety of appetizers. Becky placed an order for the fried pickles while I was drawn to the lunch baskets. The baskets come with one items and fries, no substitutions allowed. We both ordered the fried shrimp while the kids got chicken fingers.
Service was relaxed and the restaurant was packed. We were in no rush and enjoyed another beer and snacked on the fried pickles. The chips were battered, fried, and served with a slightly spicy dipping sauce. The kids were hesitant at first, but soon were fighting over the last pickle in the dish. Our lunches arrived after a short wait. Each lunch was served in a mini-fry basket and lined with wax paper printed to look like newspaper. It was a nice touch and something I had not seen before.
A half dozen golden fried shrimp were nestled in a bundle of crispy French fries. The shrimp were perfectly cooked, while the fries had been left in the oil a bit too long. Normally this would bother me, but with my flip flops kicked off, sipping a beer and looking at the ocean I overlooked the less than perfectly executed fries. The kid’s chicken fingers were of the hand cut variety rather than frozen out of a bag. They were delicious and the honey mustard sauce was also very good. Tony Bourdain was right, food does taste better in your bare feet.
The Surf is all about hanging out in a relaxed atmosphere soaking up the beach vibe and people watching. The food is decent, the service is good and the beer is cold. When it comes to a beach spot, that is a winning combination. The restaurant serves lunch and dinner seven nights a week and also offers breakfast weekends from 7 – 11 a.m. They can be reached at (904) 261-5711 and online on Facebook and thesurfonline.com (it needs updating and is full of gibberish).
Sweet Tea & Bourbon’s Rating: