A name can do a restaurant a great disservice. Give patrons the wrong impression and they may never stop by to make judgement calls on the things that really matter in the food industry. The name Deco doesn't seem too frightening itself but the "Fine Dining" subtitle, regardless of its veracity, may be enough to drive people away in these unsure economic times.
Thumbing our noses at the economic apocalypse, and being in the neighborhood one day, we decided to venture over to St. Augustine's Deco for what we hoped to be a nice lunch despite fears that we would be confronted by tiny portions garnished with high prices.
The purple and pale green building isn't hard to miss even though its set back a bit from the US 1 in the south of St. Augustine. The lack of windows contributed to my apprehension as I approached and stepping into the dim interior from the harsh Florida sun left me temporarily blind as my eyes adjusted.
The atmosphere is nice and calm. The light trickling in through the end windows, invisible from the outside is just enough to provide a soothing ambiance without making you feel too claustrophobic. I let the menu sit on the table for a few seconds, worried about what I may find inside. And then, the shock...
Everything was more than reasonably priced. No more expensive than your typical restaurant even though there was plenty of atypical food.
I rarely order appetizers but I couldn't resist trying the blackened gator tail and, for those not prepared to eat reptile, we got some hummus. The gator tail, while not something I'd choose to eat often, was surprisingly good. Lean, tough, and tasting not entirely unlike chicken. Being my first foray into reptilian flesh, I had no idea what to expect but, all in all, it was fairly indistinguishable from its feathered cousins.
For my main course I ordered a crab, spinach, onion, mushroom, and swiss cheese omelet. Being a lucky chap, both the gator tail and my omelet came with jalapeno grits. Since I'm from the Southern Hemisphere and not the Southern US, I haven't had a long relationship with grits and avoided them for years based on visual prejudice. A few good restaurants have been offering cheddar and or jalapeno grits as of late and, even as a carbophobe, I find them irresistibly delicious. These were no exception. The saltiness of the wild crab in the omelet made for a strange juxtaposition with eggs but it too was delicious and quite large, again breaking the preconceived notion that "fine dining" meant small portions.
We all left satisfied, stuffed, and carrying left overs. I felt the total price was reasonable and justified, even after the gluttony induced disorientation had worn off. So don't pay attention to the "Fine Dining" subtitle when deciding whether or not to venture into that strange green and purple building. While it may actually be fine dining, you won't find yourself paying exorbitant prices.
980 Santa Maria Blvd.
St. Augustine, FL 32086