Mark and I had the amazing opportunity to check out St. Augustine’s newest bar/restaurant, The Ice Plant, this weekend. To say I was completely blown away would be selling it short. I was not paid or asked to write a review, however, I truly want everyone to know how incredible this place is!
Our night began as we approached the industrial-looking building. This is where Philip McDaniel, the warm and energetic manager of the distillery, greeted us and led us into some meticulously renovated rooms underneath the main restaurant area. He explained that this is where the venue distills its own spirits then gave us a quick tour and history of the space. The distillery led into the restaurant’s kitchen where we got to meet a few of the chefs and watch them homemaking the night’s pasta and learn about the restaurant’s grass-fed beef.
Exiting the distillery/kitchen area, I peeped in the old-timey restroom (um, how cool is that sink??!) before Philip led us up a beautiful, old staircase and into the restaurant/bar area.
This is where things got pretty incredible.
After taking in the industrial, reclaimed wood and metal decor, a sweet woman with black-rimmed glasses and 1920s flare greeted us and sat us at the bar.
We promptly met Zack, a brilliant mixologist who was just as excited to answer my many, many questions as I was to ask them. Of the probably twenty-five things that we discussed, he most notable explained how he concocts the bar’s grenadine, how the size and shape of The Ice Plant’s ultra pure ice is used as a tool to enhance each drink, and the method to his madness in designing every one of the bar’s unique drinks. Amid the books he uses for drink inspiration, the care he takes with making each individual glass of deliciousness, and his excitement to educate–Zack is truly a connoisseur of his trade. His precision and knowledge is absolutely impeccable!
We also met Joe, he’s the guy with the egg in his hand in the picture above. Joe totally fits the scene of The Ice Plant: suspenders, slicked back hair and a subtle coolness that flows out of him. He can be seen making my drink above. Yup, it had egg whites in it. It was incredible. Creamy, ultra smooth, and a bit ginger-y as it was topped with aromatic bitters.
Joe also whipped up a fantastic “Florida Mule” for Mark. Ginger-y, citrus-y, ice-cold and very refreshing in a copper mule cup; this was my favorite drink of the night (because of course I had to taste test it too!).
We had dinner plans afterwards so we did not want to order much food, but we had to try something. Both Zack and Joe spoke exuberantly about the Bacon-Wrapped Dates with bleu cheese sauce. We promptly ordered and inhaled. True, pan-fried, thick bacon wrapped around plump, sweet dates dipped in melty bleu cheese– I could have eaten a hundred of these things. They were out of this world–salty, sweet, and more salty. Just order them, seriously.
Mark and I people-watched for a while before heading off to dinner. It was fun to see people’s faces as they stepped off of the staircase. The “ahhs” just kept coming.
The sound of glasses clinking, the faint waft of bacon in the air, and the company of lots of suspender-clad, smiling folks gives The Ice Plant that homey, I-want-to-stay-a-while feel.
It was mentioned on numerous occasions that The Ice Plant plans to be open beginning Wednesday, September 11th, just in time to take part in the Mumford & Sons festivities this weekend.
The distillery and Ice Plant are located at 110 Riberia Street in downtown St. Augustine.
I could not recommend a more welcoming, fun, charismatic place to have dinner, celebrate, and enjoy some down time. It is truly exceptional!
Have a fantastic Monday!