It was move-in day for the new freshman class at Flagler College. Since we have a nearly six hour drive, OK, make it seven-plus if you count a stop to eat, a stop for gas and a pit stop, we headed down a day early. Once settled into our hotel room we began the usual search and debate about where to go to eat. We finally settled on Aunt Kate’s across the Tolomato River up in Vilano Beach.

Aunt Kate’s website describes the restaurant as follows: “Situated in a grove of live oaks on the bank of the Tolomoto River, you can dine on the outside decks under the trees or inside in either the main dining room or the Victory bar. The trees, scarred by fire, still lean over the water, framing the ever-changing sunset. Wading birds feed along the shoreline while pelicans beg from fishermen on the docks. Occasionally, a manatee or dolphin will swim along the shoreline while passing boats cruise the channel.” I couldn’t have described it better myself.

When we arrived we had our choice of seating inside or out on the deck overlooking the river. There was a nice breeze blowing and it wasn’t too hot at the time so we chose to sit out on the deck. Our server took our drink orders and gave us a few minutes to peruse the menu. Jenna chose grilled shrimp with black beans and rice and mac and cheese on the side. ConnieLou got the fish sandwich with cole slaw. Since shrimp and grits were on the menu and described as “sautéed shrimp served over cheddar cheese grits topped with bacon and mushroom country gravy and served with a house salad”, I just had to give ‘em a try and paired ‘em up with a side of mac and cheese instead of the standard house salad..

Our orders arrived and our table got quiet…a good sign

So how did Aun’t Kate’s fare on the Thumb’s Scale? We gave ‘em an easy 6 out of a possible 6. My shrimp and grits and mac and cheese might just have been the best I’ve ever had and Jenna and ConnieLou didn’t have any complaints about their orders. Aunt Kates definitely made the repeat list.

So far I’ve avoided including pictures on this blog but the comment about the sunset in the description and the sunset we saw as we waited for dinner inspired me to take the rare opportunity to post a picture. Check it out…

Aunt Kates Sunset

Update – August 19, 2018

It’a been two years to the day since my original Aunt Kate’s entry.  We were back in St. Augustine to move Jenna into her dorm for another year at Flagler College.  We’ve been to Aunt Kate’s three or four times now and it has become a restaurant that we’ll usually go to at some point during any trip to StA.  We have fairly varied tastes and their menu has enough variety that we can all find something that we like…well, most of the time anyway.  This trip was the exception.

ConnieLou and Jenna were both fairly pleased with their selections.  Me…not so much.  Something possessed me to order the baby back ribs.  The description was appealing enough…” Slow smoked and glazed with our homemade Southern Comfort barbeque sauce.”  Unfortunately they didn’t quite live up to the description.

Let’s talk about the barbeque sauce first.  Sweet, smoky, spicy…think Sweet Baby Rays bumped up a couple of notches.  I like all barbeque sauces but some I like more than others.  Sweet thick sauces are not my favorites.  I tend to gravitate more toward tangy sauces like vinegar and mustard based sauces and even some ketchup-based sauces that are on the tangy side.  The sauce at Aunt Kate’s had a good flavor but was just too sweet for my tastes.  Since barbeque sauces are so varied and because everyone has their own taste in sauces I really didn’t let that play into my opinion.

Now for the ribs.  Slow smoked.  Really?  I couldn’t find a hint of smoke beyond the sauce.  In fact, when I tasted a bit of meat that had little or no sauce on it, I couldn’t find the smoke at all.  It tasted more like roast pork…as in baked, not smoked.  Wouldn’t have been a bad thing if I had ordered roast pork but I was expecting slow smoked ribs.  For once I wasn’t too displeased that our server got my order wrong and only brought me a half-rack of ribs instead of a full rack.  Just so I don’t sound like a complete Negative Nelly, the black beans and rice and cheese grits that I had on the side were quite good.

I’m not going to change our previous Thumbs Scale score for Aunt Kate’s.  It’s still darn good and we’ll definitely be back.  I just won’t be ordering the baby back ribs again.