With its kitschy name and impeccable reputation, Bistro Aix is perhaps Jacksonville's most well known restaurant. So with a couple years of wanting to test that reputation we decided to use a particularly special occasion as an opportunity to pass first hand judgment on this posh little dining establishment.
The restaurant itself has one of the most strangely comfortable atmospheres you're bound to encounter. There's an odd mixture of classy and shabby chic decor. Exposed brick walls, warm lights, cold air, uniformed staff, and (barring a few bad apples) well dressed patrons. At first it seems a little intimidating but soon you find yourself oddly at ease.
But perhaps that was just the Strawberry Mojito. Personally, I'm not a big fan of the mixed drink. While I can appreciate a well crafted beer or wine, the alcohol plays a secondary role to my intentions. A mixed drink often seems like an excuse to mask an inordinate amount of alcohol and facilitate drunkenness. But Bistro Aix's master cocktail craftsmen, like those at some of their respectable peer restaurants around town, blend a wonderfully tasty and tasteful drink, playing upon the flavor of the spirit rather than trying to mask it.
Leaning towards the leaner side of human proportions, we typically shy away from appetizers but couldn't resist the allure of the crispy duck spring rolls. Thin shell, tasty innards, nicely complementary pineapple ketchup; a mouth watering appetizer indeed. So appetizing that we gorged ourselves a bit too much on the lovely bread and butter.
For our main courses we ordered the Grilled Tuna and the Mushroom and Fontina pizza. The tuna, served over whipped potatoes with baby spinach, was amazing. Quite a rich dish but not overwhelmingly so. The pizza was good and a bit atypical.
The bill comes in a cheeky little envelope labeled "the damage". Damage indeed but you do get what you pay for and in a charming atmosphere to boot. So the reputation is well merited.
In addition to the restaurant, there's also the ONYX Bar which has some great deals for happy hour, or L'Heure du Cocktail as they call it, Monday through Friday from 4pm to 7pm.
1440 San Marco Blvd.
Jacksonville, FL 32207