With a few friends, I went to Taverna on Friday, September 18 for the soft opening. I can honestly say this is one of the best meals I have had in Jacksonville since last dining at Orsay in Avondale. The setting is contemporary and comfortable with a few rustic touches.
Their full-menu will entail a variety of Tapas, Appetizers, Salad, Sandwiches, Pasta, Pizza and Entrees. They intend on regularly incorporating new menu items and seasonal options, while also maintaining staple dishes.
Here is a sneak peak at their full-menu:
Wines by the glass are in the $5 - $10 per glass range including Sparkling Wine. Our server was helpful and offered us a tasting before committing to one specific glass. The service was marvelous, attentive and well paced. We had everything we needed from full water glasses, to warm bread with oil and balsamic for dipping without feeling like the staff was hovering.
We started off with a beautiful Cheese Plate of three assorted cheeses (Saint Andre, Triple Crème, France; Manchego, Sheep Milk, Spain; Humboldt Fog, Goat Milk, California) accompanied by Fig Compote, Honey, Pecans and Oil Brushed Bread. The Fig Compote was a nice alternative to the standard dates, apricots and berries you traditionally see with cheese plates. Meat Selections are also available a la carte.
1 for $4
3 for $12
5 for $20
On to the next course: Salads!
We sampled three tasty leafy dishes.
Caesar, Boquerones (white anchovies), Parmesean Croutons ($12)
Refreshing spin on a Caesar Salad. The white anchovies, if you havent had them, are enjoyable and significantly less salty.
Olive Oil, Poached Artichokes, Shaved Fennel, Baby Arugala, Marcona Almonds, Parmigiano-Reggiano, Oranges, Picholine Olives ($10)
While I enjoyed this salad, I feel there could have been slightly more citrus to balance out the Olive Oil.
Baby Spinach, Roasted Pears, Gorgonzola, Candied Pecans, Bacon ($9)
The pears were cooked perfectly and added just a subtle touch of sweetness.
Gambas al Ajillo (shrimp with garlic & chili) - from the Tapas/ Appetizer offerings ($10)
The server forewarned us that this flavorful dish comes with the heads of the shrimp on something that may turn some individuals off. My friend was cool with it and thoroughly enjoyed these three jumbo shrimp.
Fresh-made Pappardelle (pasta), Lamb & Wild Mushroom Ragu (half $10/ full $20)
This fresh pasta can best be described as a wide fettuccini with a thinner, lighter texture. I could order this again and again. The lamb was tender, plentiful and married perfectly with the mushrooms and fresh cheese. The half order on this is the perfect size if you are ordering a salad or appetizer as well.
Sautéed Mussels & Clams, Roasted Fingerling Potatoes, Saffron Chorizo Broth (half $12/ full $24)
Here you will see the half order, which is a pretty sizeable portion. Just like the Gambas al Ajillo, the broth on this is full of flavor and well seasoned.
Cream Catalana with Summer Berries & Biscotti ($8)
Very close to traditional Crème Brulee and just as delicious.
Assortment of Cookies included Hazelnut Biscotti, Lemon Thyme Cookies and Pine Nut (Pignoli) Cookies
These were compliments of Taverna, which is why you do not see a price. Pignoli Cookies are one of my favorite, favorite cookies and these did not disappoint.
Chocolate Pavé with Whipped Mascarpone and Candied Pistachios ($8)
This can best be described as chocolate cake meets a wonderfully rich chocolate mousse. It is moist, sweet and almost impossible to stop eating.
We ended our meal perfectly; enjoying these sweet treats over cappuccino and espresso.
I look forward to visiting this eclectic spot in San Marco again and welcome the addition to the neighborhood! If you have the opportunity, be sure to check it out.