What a gem of a place! If you are seeking a leisurely evening meal or a relaxing night out in the Jax Beaches area, definitely consider going to Eleven South. Keep in mind that if you’re not aware of its location, you may not even know there’s a restaurant on that block of 11th Avenue.
Named for its address within Jax Beach, just East of A1A, and situated only a couple blocks from the ocean, Eleven South Bistro & Bar is nestled within the coastal neighborhood community. Surrounded by beach cottages, it blends right in to its surroundings. A quick drive by or glance, especially when the restaurant is not open, and it could definitely be mistaken for a home if not paying attention to it.
I had always heard that Eleven South was a locals place, with consistently regular and repeat diners who also bring in their out-of-town guests for a great meal while they are visiting Jax. And after hearing this information through word-of-mouth, and then seeing the quaint little building that houses Eleven South, I immediately thought that it reminded me of a perfect little Supper Club.
When I lived up north in Illinois, I traveled in and through the state of Wisconsin a lot. And my favorite places to dine in the entire state were all the many and countless local Supper Clubs my husband and I would just stumble across during our travels. We could never go wrong with choosing a Supper Club for dinner. We could be anywhere in the entire state of Wisconsin, and as long as we could find a Supper Club, we knew the food would be good.
And these Wisconsin Supper Clubs always gave me the impression they were a very local establishment. Wherever we were the vibe was local and friendly. These were places buried into a community, sitting off on a side road somewhere, most often well off the beaten path, and hard to find. I ate at these places long before GPS on my smartphone could take me there. We had to find them on our own. We would come across them at the end of a long street, buried amongst evergreen trees. And they were the only place around. I remember getting excited when we found one. It was like being a kid playing the license plate bingo game and the excitement of whenever I’d find the state I’d been searching for so long and so hard to find. The needle in the haystack. These were not places along highway rest stops with tired and weary travelers looking for a quick meal and then rush back onto the road. They were places far away from any interstate and filled with locals where everyone knew everyone.
These travels in Wisconsin feel like a very long time ago now, and sometimes I tend to wonder if places like this still exist? And was I really alive ‘so long ago’ that I actually lived without GPS on my phone? Or did technology just advance that quickly? Is there any place left where everyone knows everyone when you walk in? Life is so very fast-paced now, with people always rushing and not taking that extra moment to slow down and talk to each other, in person, as much anymore.
When I went into Eleven South, it was just as had been described and as I imagined. It is a locals place - that welcomes everyone. It was a warm and inviting atmosphere. It is a not-very-noticeable, off-the-beaten-path, not-near-any-highways type of place. And walking in, it definitely made me think that the old-fashioned Supper Clubs of the world still exist.
I had been wanting to try Eleven South since I first noticed it. The only thing that had consistently kept me from going sooner is the parking situation. After my visit there though, I would say do not let the parking situation deter you from enjoying a great meal and a most lovely evening out.
Just a quick glance at the property made me note that there are only a tiny amount of parking spaces. And the tiny parking lot had valet staff and many coned off spaces. That was always the issue that had deterred me from visiting, and the situation that evening was no different than what I had witnessed prior. Not being a fan of paying for parking if I can help it, I had just assumed not to go and choose a different restaurant. But that Friday night was different… we were celebrating a special occasion and I knew I wanted to go somewhere we normally wouldn’t choose. So Eleven South it was for us; and parking would just have to solve itself. We saw the full lot and valet and lots of orange cones and took ourselves out to 3rd Street, parked in the siding, and walked over.
While walking in we spoke with a very friendly and definitely busy valet staff member. He was running back and forth parking cars and talking to us at the same time. He parked a car, and ran, and spoke to us. We walked - he ran - he talked. If my doubts about the parking made me stay away in the past, this very kind human being made me want to walk in. Only since I lived down in the South have I met such friendly people. He was happy and friendly and literally running around doing his job… and did I mention friendly? He explained that they have an agreement with the dentist office close by for the valet to use their parking lot in the evenings. We went on a Friday evening, right when they opened for dinner. And the lots were already full… I was right about the parking, there’s just not a lot of spots at all.
After walking in and toward the hostess stand to the right of me was the bar. It was packed. And they had only opened moments ago at 5pm - we had a 5pm reservation. Everyone was talking and laughing with each other.
Friendly hostesses, servers, and other staff greeted us inside. It was quite a typical hot Florida evening and we chose an indoor table to escape the heat and cool off. We were taken to a very large booth loaded with pillows. I had never eaten in a restaurant ever in my life where this amount of pillows surrounded me. I was quite amused by the sight. And I then proceeded to use every pillow… propping myself up and sitting higher, and leaning back on the pillows. Only once I sat down did I understand why they gave us pillows...the booth was enormous and when I sat I immediately sunk in deep. The pillows were doing their job bringing us back to a normal level even with the table. I was so amused by this.
Our server was very friendly. He explained some delicious sounding specials and also informed us they have a small garden out back where they grow some of what they serve. That fact fascinated me. Locally grown and served restaurant food is also something I think is rare these days. And a gem if one can find it.
We had a long and leisurely evening. I ordered one of the specials - a pork tenderloin dish. My husband ordered a steak and a tomato salad appetizer. I skipped the appetizer. Our server explained to me that dinner takes a while to cook and would I like anything at all while I wait? No thank you I stated, but he was so friendly and nice about everything. We chatted about how we live close by and he said he used to live close by as well, and had liked Eleven South enough at the time that he wanted to get a job there. He genuinely enjoyed his job. And was as happy as the valet was on the way in.
My pork tenderloin was the most flavorful and perfectly seasoned I’ve ever had. Served with roasted brussel sprouts and mashed potatoes, I would so order this again. My husband enjoyed his steak and asparagus. I tried a piece of steak and he tried a piece of the tenderloin. While we both agreed his steak was good, we both also agreed that my dish was absolutely amazing. Get the pork tenderloin on special - you won’t be disappointed.
Then it was time for dessert. I have a thing for desserts. I have a thing for pastries and donuts and cakes and desserts of all kinds. But of all the sweet things made on this earth, I have more than just a thing for creme brûlée. If creme brûlée is on the menu, I’m getting it. If I didn’t plan for creme brûlée I’m still getting it. I love creme brûlée. We ordered the creme brûlée.
We both ordered coffees and they came out to us first. My husband ordered the cafe au lait, and I ordered black. Both drinks were not hot - at all. But if you can tell by now, that single disappointment would not deter me from coming back. If anything, I probably could have just asked if they would warm it for me? Then the dessert came and it was the best I ever had. My mother-in-law always says that the dessert she is currently eating at that very moment is ‘the best I ever ate.’ That is how I felt about this creme brûlée.
As we were paying the check and leaving, I noticed through the window to the outside a few golf carts come driving up into the parking lot waiting in line to have the cart valet parked. I had never seen a golf cart be valet parked once before this night in my entire life, let alone more than one cart waiting to be valeted. I thought yep, definitely a locals place… that I would love to bring my family to when they come for a visit. ~
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