The Fat Man From Space (FMFS) has once again beamed himself down to our island, this time providing his opinion on the upscale Ritz-Carlton’s Eight Sports Bar with the following galactic observations:
I made the trek south and tried the burger at Eight Sports Bar at the Ritz. It was a good enough burger – they managed to get medium rare right when so many can’t – but it came at a Ritz price that wasn’t worth it. Also, if that’s a sports bar, I’m Charles Barkley. What was I expecting? It’s the Ritz for crying out loud. Pretty sure there was marble in there, and lots of unused space. It was as cold and antiseptic as a French horn at a barn dance, with only a couple of odd socks at the bar and an unusually attractive but Ritz-standard holiday family wrestling to get food into two flailing young tykes.
I’m pretty sure “sports bar” in this case really means “spillover area for people hoping for a cancellation opening at Salt next door.” Sitting with the other two strays at the bar, the bowels of which apparently adjoin Salt’s via open corridors, the piano music from next door filtered through to clash discordantly with the piped music on our end as staff from elsewhere buzzed in and out to pick up drinks or loiter for a shift change or something. While valet parking for that kind of experience was as silly as predicted, all staff there from the valet guy to the bar staff to the minder (?) who escorted me from the lobby to the bar – possibly because my shorts were slightly frayed, marking me as a middle class security risk who was sure to break out in protest chants at any moment – were tip-top professional. I’ll definitely give the Ritz that – they’re pros. Plus it smells amazing in there (a signature fragrance that is available in several pricey forms in the gift shop, natch!). Personally I want something a bit less polished in my sports bar and don’t want to be treated like a moneyed executive on a golf junket. Okay a lot less polished. How about some good old fashioned trash talk from behind the bar, eh? No such luck, just a lot of “Mr.” and “Sir”. In summary it’s not a sports bar burger destination unless you happen to be staying at the hotel, and maybe only then if you’re waiting around for something else to happen.
Editor’s notes: Our visiting galactic gourmet and I have ranked the following burger joints the best on the island as follows: 1-Putt Putt at Main Beach. Yes, you read that right, Putt Putt! Try it. 2- T-Rays; 3- Salty Pelican; 4- Leddy’s Porch at the Florida House; 5- A tie with Halftime Sports Bar & Grill & Karibo and I’ve put Bright Mornings, one of the FMFS’s favorites, in limbo as it was recently purchased by Walter Cereghetti, a Swiss gentleman of Italian heritage and I’m curiously waiting to see what he does with what the FMFS says is one of the island’s best burgers but I’m doubting he’ll serve it with Spaetzle. Baxter’s, which we still have to try, but gets rave reviews from readers, and Gourmet Gourmet which just added a new menu and a burger to it as well as the new name of GG’s Bistro, may possibly shake up the top five, or we may have to expand the list, but all results are not yet in so stay tuned.
Drinking, Dining & Dancing: Local eclectic band, the five-piece Island Vibes will be performing this Sunday, Nov. 9, from 3-7 pm at the South 3rd St. Green Turtle for a benefit for the late Ritz-Carlton Chef Thomas Tolxdorf‘s family. Mr. Tolxdorf died in a tragic automobile accident and money raised will go to assist his family in these difficult times. The Island Vibes will share the stage with local and regional musicians and singers such as Jacksonville’s singer-guitarist Chris Kellam and that city’s group Blistur and vocalist Jennifer Burns. The event will be punctuated by auctions and raffles that include a variety of cool donations, including free stays at several Ritz Carlton properties including the Ritz Carlton, Grand Cayman, as well as local hotel and B&B stays, a signed electric Washburn Guitar, many dinners for two, salon visits, jewelry, gift certificates, and a classy gift basket from the combined vendors at the Fernandina Beach Marketplace. And it’s all free with free admission, free food but please take notice of the donation box. All proceeds of auctions, raffles and donations go to Thomas Tolxdorf’s family (wife Nathalie and two sons) and all musicians will perform free. Bring your credit card or check book. For more information: Contact Han Ramakers at 904/557-5228 or Angela Wallace Pierson at 904/261-5914 and to donate auction items call TJ Seaton at 904/430-7075. The Crab Trap has been offering 50 cent wings and cheap draught beer on Wednesday’s for a long time now, but Chef Jimmy Green has added an interesting touch to what I consider some of the best wings on the island and that’s a spicy bourbon selection that I and many others proclaim “really, really good,” but grab a bunch of napkins because these are as messy as they are tasty. Call ’em at 904/261-4749. Green Turtle and Florida House Mermaid Bar drinkers can now satisfy their appetites with a quick call to the new across South 3rd Street Pi, a pizza emporium established by husband and wife team Billy and Eva Hutchinson in the location of the now closed Kelley’s Courtyard. Pi, which has a tagline of “infinite combinations” offers some of the most interesting pizza possibilities I’ve seen on the island or anywhere else including a whopping huge $32 black truffle and Italian sausage 20-incher that feeds a whole lot of very hungry people and that, in my opinion, should be served with Champagne. You can also order gigantic slices for $4.00 and get meat or vegetable toppings for 50 cents each or specialty toppings for $1.50 each. These slices are the size a small pizza elsewhere and the specialty toppings include such interesting items as goat cheese, fresh eggs, local shrimp, clams, and truffle oil. All pizzas — except slices — are 20 inches and a regular cheese Pi pie goes for $16.00 with prices gradually increasing depending on the toppings. Folks, these thin sliced pies are excellent and you can add a salad or Stromboli and if you want to eat Pi’s pie at Pi, you can order beer, wine or a soft drink, tea, etc. And for those of you too lazy to walk across the street from the Mermaid Bar or the Turtle, they’ll walk it over to you. Hey, they’ll even cut it in squares like the folks up north if you want. Call ’em at 904/432-8535. Tonight beginning at 7 pm at Sandy Bottoms at Main Beach is another Crescendo Amelia Big Band performance, with the 21-piece orchestra playing tunes by Michael Buble, Frank Sinatra, Benny Goodman, Nat King Cole, The Brian Setzer Orchestra, Etta James, and others until 9:30 and then from 9:30-11 featuring pop, Motown, and modern dance songs from artists KC and The Sunshine band, Bruno Mars, Earth, and modern jazz artists Wind and Fire, The B-52s, Pharrell Williams, Chicago, and more. Get there early for a good seat. Call ’em at 904/310-6904. Downtown’s Courtyard Pub & Grill at 316 Centre St. features piano man John Springer Thursday-Saturday evenings from 6:30-10 pm and if you want to entertain out-of-town guests or just take a local friend or companion for a fun and relaxing evening this is the spot. Try their new menu and call ’em at 904/491-1898. Tonight (Friday, Nov. 7), before heading over to Sandy Bottoms or downtown to hear John Springer, you’ll have plenty of time to stop at Wines by Steve at his new location at 4924 First Coast Highway, and not only sample some interesting wines, but also enjoy Steve’s & Donna’s son Zack’s meatballs, all for just $5.00. And while you are there pick up a bottle or two of their special Holly Nog, an egg nog based wine that sounds odd, but tastes great and is perfect for the holidays for your own consumption or as a gift. Ask about discounts by the case for this stuff. Call ’em at 904/ 557-1506. You can’t buy Arnando “Papi” Gonzalez’s Puerto Rican specialty Sancocho, a sumptuous Caribbean meat and vegetable stew that contains plantains, yucca, sweet potatoes, mélanges, pork, corn, cilantro and much more, served over rice and topped with freshly sliced avocado. But Papi, who is now plying his trade in downtown South 3rd Street’s 29 South, cooked a pot up at home recently and was gracious enough to offer me a heaping container full, which I took home and consumed in one sitting. Somebody please put this on a menu!
“Read All About It!” Oh, Never Mind: If influence and credibility were currency then the local News-Leader would be bankrupt. Of the two candidates the paper endorsed for the Fernandina Beach City Commission, one (Sarah Pelican) lost badly to newcomer Robin Lentz, while the other (Charlie Corbett) is in a runoff election December 9 against a candidate (Tim Poynter) the paper’s editor, Michael Parnell, wrote an above-the-fold rambling, incoherent front page story about (Restaurateur seeks commission ‘seat’, Oct. 29, 2014) in a failed attempt to imply that Mr. Poynter found ways around the law when building and expanding his 55-employee downtown businesses — Karibrew, Karibo, and Timotie’s. But try as he might, Parnell was only able to conclude that Poynter followed all the appropriate city, county and state rules, regulations, and permitting procedures in building and expanding — a story that has generated bewilderment and anger, even among folks who weren’t eligible to vote in the election. I’ve heard only negative comments about the paper’s coverage of Mr. Poynter’s candidacy, many of them from apolitical folks, indicating to me that the paper’s credibility is somewhere South of that of the grocery store tabloids. The News-Leader publisher’s (Foy Maloy) bizarre and inept news and editorial direction have spawned additional island news and opinion outlets such as the online Fernandina Observer and this blog, among others, reminding me of a quote by the late Washington Post Managing Editor Ben Bradlee when he was complaining that a lot of the fun had gone out of journalism. The reason, he said, was “There are so many of these asshole watchdog groups out there now.” These buttinski watchdogs provide alternatives to what once was a News-Leader monopoly, thus countering Malloy’s and Parnell’s twisted version of local news and bizarre and inexplicable editorial positions that have turned the local newspaper into a mindless word jumble.
The “Moving” Pictures: When they were first introduced films were called “moving pictures” and moving is what is happening to the movies on Amelia Island as tonight, I’m told, is the last night that folks will be able to watch a film at the South 14th Street movie theatre as it’s packing up and moving to its new location in Yulee, which has another month before it opens, leaving the theatres at the River City Marketplace, the shopping center near the JAX airport, the closest to this area. I’m not much a movie fan, but it seems sad that we’re losing our theatre.
National and State Election Stuff: Following her election Tuesday evening Florida’s 5th District Congresswoman Corrine Brown told her constituents during a live TV interview that she was “on call 27/6.” I don’t know who is dumber, Ms. Brown, or the people that keep reelecting her. Politico reported that Tuesday’s election had an outcome that leaves the Democrat party with as few as 185 of the chamber’s 435 seats. The last time Democrats had such a small House delegation Herbert Hoover was president and Charlie Chaplin was making movies.
Local Election Stuff: An acquaintance reports that as she was walking down Atlantic Avenue in front of the Atlantic Recreation Center polling place she acknowledged incumbent City Commissioner and candidate Charlie Corbett and his friend, failed commission candidate Andrew Curtain, saying “Hello all,” only to have Corbett turn to his pal Curtain and loudly say: “See that sack of s__t …..” In addition to proving once again that Corbett is a classless, clueless, curmudgeon, it is also an indictment of the News-Leader that it would endorse this sociopath with an IQ lower than a barrel of hair. Oh, candidate Roy Smith, the third candidate in the Group Two commission race, is asking the 648 folks who voted for him in Tuesday’s election, to support local businessman Tim Poynter, Corbett’s runoff opponent in the December 9 voting. Smith is the only candidate who brought up the city’s looming pension crisis issue during the election and I’d like to hear more from the retired businessman on this topic.
Yo! Ho! Ho! And So On: Amelia Boat Club & Rentals (ABC&R) will celebrate an Open House next Thursday, November 13th, 4- 6 pm, at its marina offices at 251 Creekside Drive – Off Hwy A1A, the island side of Shave Bridge, Dock E at the Amelia Island Yacht Basin, with beverages and light snacks and boat tours to inform folks of its November membership discounts, which are only available at the open house, as well as promoting its boat and wave runner gift certificates for the upcoming holidays. The ABC&R is open year round with the exception of the Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s holidays. To find out more go to www.ameliaboatclub.com or call ’em at 904/572.3216.
Say What? I don’t know how to authenticate these statements from www.unbelievable-facts.tumblr.com but they certainly give pause for thought: “If aliens 60-65 million light years away from us looked at earth through a powerful telescope today they would see dinosaurs” and “When you remember a past event, you are actually remembering the last time you remembered it, not the actual event itself.”
More Pay May Equal No Job: Friend Benita Dodd of the Georgia Public Policy Foundation reports that the Seattle-based Freedom Socialist Party, campaigning for a $15 hour minimum wage, posted a job listing…for $13 an hour. Even better, the average market value of the job in question is around $20 per hour. Sometimes life’s jokes simply write themselves. She also reports that in Forbes magazine, Tim Worstall writes, “Higher wages leads to fewer people being paid wages.” Case in point: London Cinema workers celebrating victory in a campaign to adopt the “London Living Wage” were told about a quarter of the cinema staff was being fired because of the cost of the increased wage.
Speaking of Nonsense: If White House spokesman Josh Earnest is hoping to land a corporate PR job following his tenure with the current administration he certainly didn’t do himself any favors with his performance following Tuesday’s elections, unless he’s looking for a position as s stand-up comedian since his answers trying to explain away the huge Republican victory to the press corps generated more unintended laughter than has been heard in the White House press briefing room since the Jimmy Carter years.
Dave, always enjoy your writings. Having always been a hamburger fanatic, I have embarked over the last 6 months in my travels of finding the best hamburger in the United States. Now, keep in mind that my #1 is and remains the cheeseburger from T-Rays. But I recently found a close #2 and that was at the Tremont Tavern in Chattanooga TN. If you and Linda are ever up that way, give it a try. You will love the tavern as it is a neighborhood gathering spot on Hixson Pike and along with the burger came the most mouth watering delicious tater tots I have ever had. The TTs seem be having a revival as I have come across them more and more in my hamburger journey. Keep up the great writing as it is a great way for me to keep in touch with FB and AI.
P.S. Eric C. is right, don’t stoop down to the level of others but keep it on the high class side even if others aren’t there.
Oops, I got Ms. Schaefer’s site wrong. It’s http://bluefrog.ilovelakeoconee.com
Since I have known Dave Scott longer than anyone else who is reading his blog (he once worked for me at IBM), I can attest to his knowledge of bars, and how out of place he would feel at any Ritz-Carlton! What continues to amaze me about Dave the restaurant critic is how he manages to do all that eating AND drinking without becoming morbidly obese.
And Dave, I have to agree with what Eric Corbett had to say regarding your comments about his uncle. As someone who ran, unsuccessfully, for political office, we should feel free to criticize folks for their positions and/or accomplishments, but we should do that without demonizing them, and we should also be appreciative of anyone who does offer themselves to the voters. Don’t stoop, in other words, to the same level as the people running the local paper.
Finally, Dave, a small correction in that most of Ben Bradlee’s career at the Washington Post was as executive editor, not managing editor. And yes, I wish I had worked for him in my newspaper days.
Eric, once again I admire you defending your Uncle Charlie Corbett. You are indeed a good nephew and from what I know of you, a fine person whose company I always enjoy. Was describing your Uncle Charlie as a sociopath extreme? Maybe, but then when you shout out in a public place a vile scatological term toward a refined lady, repeatedly call me names in public locations and mock a lady’s weight in the commission chambers, then the definition of sociopath, which is defined as “a person with a psychopathic personality whose behavior is antisocial and who lacks a sense of moral responsibility or social conscience” begins to appear appropriate. But, then again, you may be right that it puts me on the same level as your uncle, although I pass on the scatological language, as I consider that a substitute for a lack of verbal skills. Maybe we can all celebrate a communal Thanksgiving in a neutral corner. Anyway, thanks for commenting.
Betty and Louis: First the blog. My good friend and winner of the Ann Margaret look-alike contest, the drop-dead good-looking, bubbly and talented Wendy Schaefer designed the blog for me and it appears that she will have to get up under the hood with her technical tool bag and do a tune up so it fits all screens. Ms. Schaeffer, based on Lake Oconee in Georgia, knows what she’s doing as she’s a graphic designer with more than 30 years of experience in marketing and advertising, generating electronic and print design for large and small companies around the country. She got her start in the early 1980’s when she was appointed Creative Director for the launch of Gannett’s USA TODAY, in New York City and Washington, D.C. In addition to helping me out in my past positions with firms in the US and Europe, Wendy has worked for such prestigious names as Coca Cola, UPS, Kimberly-Clark and others. View some of her work at www. bluefrogilovelakeoconee.com. And Louis you haven’t missed a blog, but Tasty’s is all over the place. The FMFS has it on his list, many I spoke to really like it, and others not so much. I’m indifferent, so maybe I need to go back for another taste. Stay tuned a I suspect the burger list will see a major shakeup and be expanded to include 10 joints.
Again Dave? It is clear you support Tim Poynter over Charlie Corbett (as do I), but can’t we support Poynter without disparaging Corbett? Corbett is not a sociopath and is also very intelligent. He has a college degree, served his county in Vietnam, and raised three wonderful kids – all highly educated with good jobs, two married with wonderful kids, and another engaged to be married very soon. A sociopath dummy does not graduate college and raise three great kids. Certainly we all say things we regret from time to time, sometimes in private and unfortunately sometimes in public. If he said what you said he said, that is regrettable, but it does not make him a sociopath. And his record as a commissioner, even though you may not agree with it, does not make him a dummy. He was elected fair and square by our citizenry and will serve the city until he decides to not run or until he is defeated.
As you know, I too have chosen to support Poynter in the race against my uncle. It is a decision that has not earned me any extra invites to Thanksgiving dinner on that side of the family this year, but I have stood up for what I thought was right. Through it all I have tried to be respectful and acknowledge that he is doing the best that he can in a difficult situation. When you call people names you stoop to the same low level as the NewsLeader, a paper you clearly despise. Further, your comments may have a different effect than your desired effect. I know of quite a few people that purposefully went out and voted FOR Tim in angry response to that hatchet job the NewsLeader printed the week before.
Let’s keep it positive. Let’s highlight the good in our candidate rather than pointing out the faults of his opponent. Any candidate willing to run and willing to put up with the election process and then willing to serve if they win deserves more credit than you are currently giving.
In fact, I am not sure which is worse – calling someone a name in public (as my uncle allegedly did) or saying someone is a sociopath and stating they are dumb as hair on a blog. I like you Dave and I like your blog too, but you have a place down here for comments so I just had to leave one. Keep up the otherwise great work!
Hi Dave. Miss you in The Fishwrapper. We’re hoping they shelve that relic Howard Pine, and bring you back. I can’t get through the first paragraph of his column without yawning. I have been meaning to tell you about a glitch with your blog. I used to have an iPad, and now an iPad Air. Your blog is cut off on the right side. I have to use my PC to read your comments. Perhaps the format could be tweaked for tablet users. Also, when I went to “contact” to send you this info, I typed, but nothing registered. I follow a few blogs and use my iPad constantly, and your site is the only place that I have had this issue. Keep blogging!
Did I miss one of your blogs? Or did you and the FMFS miss the burgers at Tasty’s? Or are they so bad they didn’t even make your list?