St. Augustine, FL 2016
I have dreamlike memories of visiting St. Augustine with my mom and brother when I was young.
I remember being enchanted by the quaint streets and historic buildings. I remember eating lunch in a small building where Gregorian chants wafted through the dimly lit space and servers wore brown robes, tied with rope. In recent years I couldn't seem to find anyone who shared my memory. But on a visit to the old city, last year... I SPOTTED A SIGN!
Strolling St. George Street
It was a year ago, that Don and I wandered down this historic, pedestrian street in St. Augustine.
We were almost past the building, when the spotlight forced my eye to notice the short, round monk on the hanging sign.
I left Don outside. "I've just got to see!" I rushed through the wall opening and headed inside to see if the place looked like the restaurant of my memory.
I don't remember the space being quite so colorful. I seem to remember dim lighting and maybe even sitting on church pews. But that could just be how I chose to remember.
Right away, I was greeted by a man with a big grin and an Hawaiian shirt. He was serving a couple seated at the tiny bar.
"Hi..." I smiled back as my eyes wandered in every direction., struggling to recall.
"I can't believe this!" I just felt giddy. "I'm pretty sure I remember being here when I was a teenager!"
Hank was eager to hear what I remembered, so I ran out to fetch Don. We joined the others at the tiny bar, standing across from a display of about 20 carved monks.
I told Hank, that I remembered eating lunch here in the early 1970's.
"I remember waiters wearing brown robes." He laughed and told me I remembered correctly. He offered to go get a robe and put it on for me. I would have encouraged that, but I didn't believe he really had any.
Then and Now
I peeked in the attached room and wondered if that was where I'd eaten before. Hank said his dad opened the restaurant in 1972. Hank took over the biz just a few years later, in 1976, He closed after 30 years, then reopened as a wine and coffee shop. Too bad, since I was hungry.
Hank brought out an old menu with prices that made me hungry for 1972. Coffee for 25-cents and a glass of wine for 90-cents! Frugal Friar Chopped Steak for $1.65 and a Heavenly Ham and Cheese Tostado for $1.85!
Sadly I could not once again dine with the sound of chanting monks. But we could at least have a drink. I had noticed the sign when we entered. "Warm Up... Hot Pirate's Grog" Pirates are kind of the opposite of monks, but a cold front was blowing through the open door and it did sound good.
The couple at the bar from Tampa, recommended the grog. Another couple who had been sitting in the side room came in to join the fun. They'd been sampling some of the many wine options. Hank I believe had been sampling some of the goods himself and was in festive spirits.
I'm guessing this is the rum that Hank was going to put in the grog.
There was so much chatter and distraction, I can't remember what was going on here.
Here I am with my sample, but I failed to photograph the final grog. I believe it was made with some kind of spiced cider, heated in the glass cups. Again, not exactly like a monastery, but it definitely warmed me up.
Hank talked about lots of stuff, but I don't think I ever got real answers for any of my questions. I did learn that Hank's dad is still alive at age 88. We also learned that Hank's business is up for sale. It suddenly made some sense, that the side room was cluttered with boxes. Or maybe not. Hank might just be slow about unpacking his wine shipments.
Grapes for Sale
There were lots of price tags, like on the illuminated glass, grape clusters. $275 was a little steep for us, but one couple had enjoyed just enough grog, they were on the verge of making a purchase when we left.
So I didn't get a proper feast, but I did leave satisfied. It's always a treat to learn that a vague memory was not just a dream. The older I get, the more these oddball memories will haunt me.
It's odd to think how this next generation will handle their mystery memories as they age. If there's enough cloud storage out there, they'll have a picture for every darn memory. Too easy, I say!
The Dining Blog
This is a blog about Dining Adventures. Sometimes, I talk about food. Below, you can read how this started.
On July 4th 2011, I set a goal to try 50 culturally diverse restaurants in one year! (I knew that was possible, living in the Houston area) I spent the year pulling in friends and family to join me, on some unusual dining adventures. I met some curious people, tried some scary foods and explored places and cultures I never would have otherwise. Even though I met my goal, I learned too much to end my adventures in dining. I have continued blogging about memorable dining adventures of all kinds, near and far... and all the discoveries and funny things I've learned along the way!
Locations and types of dining adventures, are listed further down.