We rarely make a big deal over our anniversary dinner. The truth is, we’re typically traveling somewhere and having a low-key dinner.
We met on October 28, 2002, on a blind date. For our first date chose to meet at a Korean BBQ in Philadelphia’s Italian Market. We knew that dinner would be interactive, and if the conversation went south, at least cooking at our table would keep us busy.
Thirteen years later, we exchanged wedding vows on the same date in a simple wedding ceremony surrounded by family. Instead of a typical wedding reception, we decided that we’d take the twelve of us to the luau dinner at Disney’s Polynesian Resort. We knew that none of our family had been, and the dinner and show were entertaining.
As we said, we like something low-key and don’t care to make a big fuss. No special anniversary dessert, no candles, and CERTAINLY no singing!
Our 19th Anniversary
We always like to do local places, and we’re both fans of spicy food. So, not far from our hotel, we saw Harry’s Seafood Bar and Grille at the foot of the Bridge of Lions.
Harry’s Seafood Bar and Grille
Harry’s Seafood Bar and Grille
46 Avenida Menendez
St. Augustine, FL 32084
Harry’s Seafood Bar and Grille is part of a small group with five locations across central and northern Florida. Established in 1987, they feature a mix of Southern, Creole, and Cajun foods. Offering local seafood with spicy options, we figured it would be a great option.
Harry’s does not take reservations but does call-ahead seating to help reduce waiting time. The St. Augustine location has relatively limited parking, but we quickly found metered parking on the street.
We arrived just before the designated call ahead of time and were told we’d still have close to a thirty-minute wait. Which we thought was fair considering it was damp and starting to drizzle a bit. Which pretty much eliminated the patio seating for part of the evening.
Cocktails and Dinner
We were given a pager and made our way to the second-floor bar. We found seats at the end of the bar and enjoyed a drink. The bartender was fast and friendly. Several people were dining at the bar, and he was on top of everything.
Chuck ordered one of the Craft Beer, and Mark opted for a Signature Cocktail. The Hurricane was made with Light and Dark Rum, Orange Juice, Pineapple, and a splash of Passion Fruit. In true New Orleans fashion, it was plenty strong.
Shortly after getting our drinks, the buzzer went off. We trekked, drinks in hand downstairs to the host stand – only to be seated back upstairs about five feet from our seats at the bar.
Cajun and Creole Specialties
We started dinner, sharing an order of their Boudin Balls. Six deep-fried balls of Cajun Sausage, Rice, and Creole Seasoning. They were served with their House-made Remoulade Sauce. They were hot, not greasy, but quite a bit more Rice than Sausage.
Additionally, Mark tried a cup of She Crab Soup. This was probably the weakest dish of the night. It was barely lukewarm and not very flavorful and not much Crab. Not worth $6.49.
For our entrees, we both went with two of Harry’s Seafood Bar and Grille Signature Dishes. Chuck tried the Shrimp and Scallops Orleans, with Mark opting for the Andouille Grouper.
The Shrimp and Scallops Orleans was nice size portion of lightly blackened Shrimp and Sea Scallops over a crispy Grit Cake with Tasso Ham Cream Sauce and Collard Greens. The seafood was perfectly cooked, and the Tasso Cream Sauce added lots of flavor. Bottled Hot Sauce on the table helped bring the heat.
Mark’s Andouille Grouper was a decent portion of Blackened Grouper Fillet crusted with Panko Breadcrumbs, Parmesan Cheese, and Cajun Sausage. It was topped with a Red Bell Pepper Sauce and served with Smashed Potatoes. The Bread Crumbs and Cheese overwhelmed the Cajun Sausage, but the dish was nice.
Service with a Smile
The biggest disappointment of the dinner was our server. He lumbered up to the table, brought water, and we think he might have said his name, but he was very quiet and not very engaging. We specifically waited to place our entrée order until after our appetizers arrived as, on too many occasions, we’ve ended up with both sitting in front of us.
He, unfortunately, did not attempt to recommend anything or tell us about specials. Later in our dinner, we heard the server at a table near us talking about additions to the menu. He took orders and brought food. He never checked to see how anything was or suggested dessert.
In this case, a friendly, engaging server could have saved a somewhat mediocre meal at harry Seafood Bar and Grille. But instead, we left disappointed and celebrated our anniversary with Ice Cream on the streets of St. Augustine.
*cover image from Harry’s Seafood Bar and Grille social media page