Daniel recommended a restaurant for our trip to St. Augustine – Cafe Eleven. He noticed it while staying at the nearby Hampton Inn. With an interesting menu and an array of beer choices, he thought we’d enjoy the place.
Located on A1A near the coastline, Cafe Eleven is housed in an unassuming rectangular building with ample parking. The interior is one large, open space. You proceed to the counter upon entering for a menu. Specials are posted at the register. After ordering there, take a seat and someone will bring your food out to you when it’s ready.
I chose one of the specials: a panini with basil chicken, spinach, onions, provolone and Italian dressing. The sandwiches are not served with a side, but for an extra buck, you can choose either pasta salad or a side salad. Almost all the sandwiches, whether hot or cold, run around $7.
I was surprised that chips were not offered. I would have liked that option. To me, some crunchy kettle-cooked chips are the perfect accompaniment to a sammie. After overcoming my disappointment, I chose the pasta salad described to me as rotini with green peppers and a creamy Italian-style dressing.
We chose a table outside with an umbrella even though it was too overcast to need the shade. In fact, it was almost too cool to sit outside, but heck, I was in Florida and I was determined to dine al fresco at least once. Ron enjoyed his beer and I sipped away at a diet soda.
Our sandwiches arrived and looked impressive. Mine was loaded with well-seasoned chicken breast, carmelized red onions, melted cheese and sauteed spinach. The Italian dressing was added in the perfect proportion – provided flavor without making the crisp, pressed bread soggy. A generous side of pasta salad sat beside my sandwich.
The sandwich had great flavor. The bread was the perfect combination of toasted and chewy. I did not care for the spinach, but that is a personal preference. I would have liked it placed raw on the sandwich instead of previously sauteed. To me, cooked spinach has a slimy texture so I removed most of it.
The pasta salad was decidedly underseasoned. Additional salt would have helped, but more of the creamy dressing was needed to flavor the pasta and green peppers. It would be nice to add some additional veggies to the pasta salad as well. On the bright side, the pasta was cooked to a perfect al dente and the peppers tasted crisp and fresh.
The price is a little higher than comparable eateries, but I felt the quality of ingredients justified the price tag.
I recommend Cafe Eleven for a healthful, casual meal. Check out their website to see when they are offering live music, too. THREE FORKS for Cafe Eleven.
I ordered the Muffalata – basically it was a big sandwich with Salami, Turkey, ham, some sort of Olive Sauce, some sort of Red Pepper Sauce, provolone and swiss cheese, all on an herb laden slab of bread. And I say slab because it was huge and tasted excellent.
Oh, I forgot to ask if they charged for water. Somehow I do not think they do. I couldn’t find it on their menu if they did or didn’t. But checking out their menu you will notice the fine selection of draft beers and bottled beers. The beers are not as cheap as I’d like but hey that’s just my tight ass. My 16oz draft was $4. (a bargain almost as that is half the price I paid the next day at Altell Stadium)
I was also too cheap to buy a side. I agree with Susan, I think chips would be better than some of the sides they have, at least to go with a sandwich. I love pasta salad, but my experience with pasta salad is that I never get enough and I pay way too much for what I get. Just my opinion, but we all know that if we wanted to feed a bunch of people quick and cheaply, pasta salad is a good dish to serve up.
The sandwich was awesome, and very filling. I’m not much on olives, but this was very good, and blended well with all the flavors.
I will remember this place next time I’m down this way, and would not hesitate to eat here again. I wish most places around here would put this much effort into their sandwiches. The place also seems to have a lot of musicians coming in for live music. When we were there, they had the Stones blaring on the radio – that’s always a plus, they must have known that I can’t get no satisfaction when I go out to eat.
Because I felt like it was a good deal, they have live music, good food, and play rock and roll. I’m giving it
(but I reserve the right to adjust that if someone informs me that they do indeed charge for tap water)Cafe Eleven 501 A1A Beach Boulevard
St Augustine, FL 32080-7951