George Singeltary is the Fine Dining Food Editor for the Examiner. His writings focus on both great restaurants and individual dishes that deserve special attention. To qualify as a fine dining top pick a restaurant must provide great food, great service and a great environment in which to relax. Few restaurants can bring these elements together; fewer still can do so consistently. The following list represents the best of the best in Jacksonville - those restaurants that excel in consistently delivering great food, great service, and great ambiance. You can read George's articles in the Examiner here. For 2013, in reverse order, here are George's picks for the top fine dining restaurants in Jacksonville.
Even though this is a chain restaurant, we feel that the Jax location consistently serves delicious food at reasonable prices with top-notch service in a cool atmosphere. We have tried the Orlando J. Alexander's and the Jax version stands out as the superior restaurant. Jacksonville Fine Dining Examiner strongly recommends the prime rib, grilled pork tenderloin, and key lime pie.
This restaurant is a relative newcomer, but we are excited to put it on the list of the best in the area. The interior of the restaurant exudes "urban Jax" with the brick accents. We enjoyed their meatball appetizer.
Lobster mac and cheese, great salads, and solid fish and meat entrees are staples at this long-time Jax Beach favorite. This is an upscale, fine dining restaurant that requires you to dress up and has what we would consider a "dinner-club" feel.
This Ruth's Chris is a far step above the other iterations of this upscale steakhouse. The view of the river and downtown Jacksonville are possibly the best in the city and the service and food meet the high Ruth's Chris standards. We've actually been going with the lamb chops at Ruth's Chris rather than the steak lately and we really enjoy the dish.
We are huge fans of the Roy's in Jax Beach. The restaurant is run professionally and it shows. Each table has multiple servers that see to your every dining need. We strongly recommend the lakanilau sushi roll, andouille crusted fish, and chocolate souffle.
The final chain restaurant on our list is the newly built Seasons 52 restaurant located in St. Johns Town Center. At each of these restaurants (especially the Altamonte location) there always seems like there's an 80's vibe going on...and we're ok with that! We like that this restaurant tries to break the mold of the high-calorie and creamy dishes that we see so often at chain restaurants. Our favorites at Seasons 52 are the spicy chipotle shrimp flatbread and the cedar plank roasted salmon.
Clearly the best tapas restaurant in Jacksonville, this small restaurant serves great dishes like the fresh chorizo and pears and a special tres leches cake. Make sure you book your reservation ahead of time, especially on the weekend, this restaurant fills up fast!
We like Orsay for its excellent cheese plate, creative mixed drinks, delicious steak frites, and delicious desserts like the homemade s'mores. The interior at Orsay is very cool and often features a younger crowd. The dining room in front is great for an upscale meal and the bar towards the back has a different, more laid back vibe.
Consistently delicious, Bistro Aix has been a staple on nearly all of our "best of" lists in for Jax. We consider Bistro Aix the best restaurant in downtown Jacksonville. Service, ambiance, food, drinks, Bistro Aix has it all. The menu is frequently changing and often features locally grown ingredients. A few of our favorites include the spring rolls, Stilton blue cheese filet mignon, and their homemade desserts.
Likely Jacksonville's most upscale restaurant, Azurea embodies what we want from a fine dining restaurant. Chef Ted Peters works wonders each night with his seasonally inspired menus and ingredients. Like Bistro Aix, Azurea frequently features locally grown vegetables, meats, and other ingredients. This, along with attentive and knowledgeable servers, great ocean views, and one of the best wine lists in the area make Azurea our number 1 restaurant in Jacksonville for 2013.