The French Pantry Reminds us to Slow Down, and Eat Well for a Change
by Donny Mak
on Monday, February 4th, 2013 at 1:00am.
The French Pantry in Jacksonville FL - Proscuitto, Artichoke & Mozzarella Bruschetta
By: Alan Aptheker
It's the worst kept secret in Jacksonville. The French Pantry on Powers Avenue is unique because it depends solely on reputation and quality – no foot traffic, little to no signage, and nobody just drops in because they happen to be driving by. It’s only open from 11:00 to 2:00. It’s a luncheon destination that requires some planning, and though it lives up to expectations every time, it’s simply not designed for the “Type A” terminally impatient. Budget at least 90 minutes of your time and $15 to $18 of your money. There’s typically a 30-or-so minute wait in line. Is it worth it? If your constitution will bear it, the answer is yes, absolutely. It’s not for whiners. If you can just get over it, and get past the location and the logistics, it’s more than likely you’ll fully understand the allure, because the food trumps everything else.
The French Pantry in Jacksonville FL - Macarons
No paper menus, just a list of staples and specials charmingly scribbled on chalkboards. Like the Metro Diner, the dishes are almost comically enormous. Too many lovingly prepared 5-star-quality selections to name here, and just those names and menu descriptions are an indication that you’re not in Panera anymore: Turkey, Pesto and Goat Cheese sandwich; Parisienne French Dip with Brie; Rare Roast Beef with Boursin Cheese; Turkey, Bacon and Guacamole. And there’s always an array of six or seven bruschettas to choose from: We saw a Shrimp, Artichoke, and Goat Cheese version, Raspberry Salad and Prosciutto, and one bruschetta that was the most eccentric we’d ever seen: applewood smoked bacon, fontina cheese, spinach, caramelized onions, drizzled with white truffle oil. The desserts are out-sized as well, and expertly crafted, such as their piled-high Napolean, the strawberry topped Fruit Brown Butter Tart, and a signature of theirs, a mighty slice of “Wedding Cake.”
The French Pantry in Jacksonville FL - Fresh Bread
There are so few places in town where the artisan quality, freshness, decadence and portion size all sync up to make a lunch experience truly noteworthy. The French Pantry may convince you after all that in food, like in life, good things are worth waiting for.