The first night we were in Fernandina Beach, we had reservations at Cafe Karibo on 3rd Street as guests of the manager. It only took a few minutes to drive over from the Residence Inn. We parked around the block and walked a short distance. The neighborhood around the restaurant was charming, with a residential feel. There were several quaint restaurants and shops on the block. Even after dark walking was not scary, as it can be in some cities.
The atmosphere at Cafe Karibo was like a neighborhood pub, with some wooden benches at tables that would seat six, and smaller tables for two to four. If it had been warmer out, we might have opted to sit on the patio. It was beautiful even in winter, but just a bit too chilly that day. It was pretty busy for a Wednesday night. We found a table and soon after, our waiter appeared to take our drink order.
While they do serve wine and beer, we both ordered the Peach Iced Tea, which was a great blend of flavors. The Restaurant Week Menu was offered, as well as the regular menu. You can see the Restaurant Week Menu here: Cafe-Karibo.
We decided on the Caprese Salad and the Crab Cakes for starters. Both were excellent! I know I have had Caprese Salads in many different places, but this one seemed to be the best I have had yet. The Balsamic Vinegar they used was thick and sticky, which is quite different from what I am used to. It just made the whole thing better! There was also a noticable difference in the flavors of the red and orange tomatoes.
Anyone who knows me knows I love crab, any way I can get it. I was not disappointed by these wonderful crab cakes. The only thing I didn’t like was that they did have a bread crumb coating, so they were not gluten free, but I ate them anyway. They were served with brie and a cranberry chutney, something I would have never thought of on my own, but enjoyed immensely. Even Fabgrandpa ate half of them, and he usually does not care for crab. You know I am going to have to re-create them at home now.
Fabgrandpa chose the Coquille St. Jaques, or Sea Scallpos with Shitake Mushroom Sauce. These were jumbo scallops, served over smashed potatoes, covered in the mushroom sauce, and had a side of grilled vegetables. The veggies included red and yellpw peppers, zucchini, carrots, and asparagus. He said it was delicious. The only problem he had with it was there was so much he was not able to eat all of it. That man has never walked away from a scallop before, ever. I am not sure if the sauce if gluten free or not, I forgot to ask.
For my entree, I chose the Pan Seared Red Snapper. It was served over the same smashed potatoes as Fabgrandpa’s meal, and had the same side vegetables. This plate was gluten free: there was no breading on the fish, and no gravy or sauce on the potatoes. The fish was seared crispy and golden brown, and had a very tasty fruit salsa on top. (I think it was the papaya chutney, but not sure. It was delicious, though) The vegetables were cooked just right–not mushy, not too crisp.
We both declined dessert, which was a choice of Strawberry Cake, Mud Var, Creme Brulee, or Chocolate Ganache Cake. We just couldn’t hold another bite. At that point, we were glad that we had parked around the block!
The Cafe Karibo menu includes a good selection of Soups, Salads, Sandwiches, Appetizers, and entrees to fit just about anyone’s taste. A few of the offerings are gluten free, such as the one I had, the Pan Seared Red Snapper. You might also try the Shrimp & Grits, the Rum Marinated Pork Tenderloin, or the Fresh Catch of the Day. (The information here about gluten free menu items is from my own observations of those items, and are not indicated as such on the menu. As always, be sure to ask about the ingredients when you are ordering)
Cafe Karibo is located at 27 North 3rd Street in downtown Fernandina Beach, Florida. Reservations are recommended for parties of 6 or more, and maximum split check limit is 8. 904-277-5269