A Special Wedding Dinner for Two: Michael’s Tasting Room in St. Augustine

wedding carriage in St. Augustine, bride and groom in front of bed and breakfastWe do a lot of weddings at the Bayfront Marin House. I think they’re all beautiful, but I am a little partial to the guests who take advantage of our “Just the Two of Us” wedding package.

It is–as the name implies–for just two people, and that’s what I like about it. There’s a special bond when you sign someone’s wedding license as a witness…not to mention the fact that the couples getting married typically share either their cake, their champagne (or both!) with us and we all celebrate together.

The couples who choose to elope to a private ceremony usually go out to dinner after the ceremony, and we are happy to suggest beautiful, special occasion restaurants around town. Well, as of last night, we have a new option to add to our list–and it’s amazing.

wedding dinner in St. AugustineMichael’s Tasting Room at 25 Cuna Street is generally known as a fun place to go with friends, where everyone can sit and drink wine in a stylish restaurant, enjoying exquisite small plates created by chef Michael Lugo. And they are that–I still highly recommend it for a laid back gathering of friends or family.

But there’s a new option on their menu that I think would be perfect for our guests, particularly our newly wedded guests. Chef Michael has created a tasting menu fit for a king (and his queen)–seven courses, beautifully showcased, paired with wine or not. The new offering is called his Chef’s Table, and while that implies a long harvest table full of fellow foodies, he is happy to do it just for two, in a romantic and quiet section of the restaurant.

The hub and I went to Michael’s last night, and while being the innkeeper on call doesn’t really allow for seven courses, we were happy to slow down and enjoy the mini chef’s table, with just three courses. We opted not to have the pairings (two glasses of wine on a school night would wipe us out for the week!), but to order a generous glass from their nice selection.

For the first course, we enjoyed a spanish tortilla with an arugula salad and sweet small tomatoes on top, and a smoky tomato coulis underneath. The dish was a great blend of hearty and yet light–and a perfect way to start our meal. I am not familiar with Spanish tortillas, but I can describe it–it was like the most delicate frittata, with smooth egg and thinly sliced layers of potatoes.

For the second course, the hub and I diverged (our waiter gave us two options for the evening). The hub went with the pork belly, rich and tender with brussell sprouts (his favorite–I suspect he ordered the dish based on them along), squash, and a few sweet apples. I opted for the scallops with barbecue sauce, a sweet and tangy blend that showcased the delicate seafood. On the side was a manchego cheese polenta cake topped with a frisee salad. I’m a girl who likes my carbs, and the polenta cake did not disappoint.

For dessert, we were served an amazing Grand Marnier creme brulee, perfectly silky underneath the crust of sugar, and balanced with citrus, thyme and bitters. Chef Michael–who came out several times during our meal to explain the dishes and make sure we enjoyed everything–said he wanted a Grand Marnier creme brulee, but he worried that the sweetness could be cloying, so he added the aromatic bitters and the thyme to balance it out. I’m not an expert on those things (I can report on the dishes, but I don’t want to come up with them), but I can tell you the combo was just right to end the meal.

The service was impeccable (I’m a big believer that the flatware should be cleared between courses, and it was), and the pace was perfect–when we finished a little over an hour after we arrived, I felt as if I had taken a four hour break. And that’s a big deal when you’re always running from here to there.

I hope someday to have the time to enjoy the seven-course full table. In the meantime, I would definitely recommend this option to our married couples–whether you’ve been married for just an hour, for a year, or for decades. It was a wonderful night out–and definitely special.

(The mini chef’s table without wine was $45, and the full seven courses is $75–a great value and truly special event. Wine pairings are extra. Make a reservation at 904.810.2400, and tell them that the Bayfront Marin House sent you!)