Last night I went to dinner at Salt Life in Jacksonville Beach with a group of friends and had a great gluten-free meal. Earlier in the day my sweet, sweet boyfriend called to make reservations, in an area of the house where he did not know I was listening, only to find out they don’t take reservations. Prior to hanging up I overheard him ask if they served Gluten Free food. It is always great to hear someone advocating for you even when they think you are not listening. After the phone conversation he quickly let me know that they have a chef that has Celiac disease and even though he was not going to be on duty that night, he was going to prepare a gluten-free menu for me that night. This was a huge relief!
We arrived and quickly indulged in the free valet parking (parking is a nightmare in this area because parking is shared with Mellow Mushroom– so valet is a must). We met up with our friends, and after realizing there would be a 1 hour wait we decided to head to the bar for a pre-dinner beverage. After waiting around 5 minutes at the bar we ordered 2 mojitos. They were delicious, however, we became envious of the pineapple mojito which is definitely the better route to go. They put the time into making these drinks the authentic way, they muddle the mint rather than just throw the mint in there. The original mojito was good, however it needed to be a tad bit sweeter. The pineapple mojito (round 2) had the perfect amount of sweetness.
Not soon after finishing our first drink, a table that seats 6-8 in the outside first come first serve area opened up. Tip: the restaurant crowds begin to diminish around 8:30-8:45.
The waitress was very helpful and brought over the specially printed gluten-free menu not long after we sat down. Items included their ceviche, oysters, edemame, most of their hand helds (without the bun of course), the Costa Rican Shrimp Salad, the house salad (not caesar), grilled vegetables and the grilled whole corn. I was quite surprised to note that none of the main dishes known as “the hook up” were listed as gluten-free (including the ever popular Poke Bowl). I opted for the steamed oysters to start and the Costa Rican Shrimp Salad as my main course that included fresh Mayport Shrimp; it was delicious. It came with avocado, hearts of palm, tomatoes and their yummy house dressing. It was healthy, nutritious and delicious. They don’t have their gluten-free menu online so make sure to call ahead prior to arriving to make sure they have one on hand to accommodate you. It was clear to me that the wait staff was not too aware of what a gluten allergy is so make sure to talk to a manager or make arrangements before hand.
All in all it was a great experience. I did not experience an immediate allergic reaction so I take that as a good sign. I am always impressed when restaurants that are not a big chain make accommodations for those of us with a food allergy. Thank you Salt Life, keep up the good work.