Dazzling diners, PLaE offers imaginative dishes, drinks, and desserts – for lunch, as well as dinner.
The most memorable meals happen at PLaE Restaurant & Lounge, that is, People Laughing and Eating, located at The Shops of Omni Amelia Island Plantation. Owners Brett Carter and Tip Fisher, along with General Manager Shari Murphy and Executive Chef Robert Camp, have created an amazing eatery that surprises its diners every evening. Now, they are also dazzling their diners during the day, as they have recently begun serving lunch. I stopped by PLaE on a recent weekday for a lunchtime break. I’ve always loved PLaE’s urbane atmosphere, where you feel like you’re enjoying a special getaway any day or night of the week.
My server suggested I try the Peasant Lunch, which I had been eyeing on the menu. The plate is a combination of various cheeses, fruits, pickles, meats, breads, and other goodies, served with a glass of house sangria. The sangria was amazing, a white sangria—which I prefer over red any day—that is made with Pinot Grigio, simple syrup, and fresh lemon, lime, and orange juices. The beverage is served in a lovely pilsner glass and garnished with fruit. Very refreshing, but not too sweet, it makes a wonderful lunchtime drink.
The Peasant Lunch was a remarkable dish. Enjoying the many different items around the plate, I soon found that I was enjoying appetizer, entrée, fruit, cheese, and even dessert, all in one offering. There were tasty bread and butter pickles and pickled green tomatoes and okra, fresh asparagus, and homemade cranberry sauce. Carter prepares all his own pickles at PLaE, using fresh from-the-farm ingredients. There was also a small wedge of brie with peach chutney, turkey breast with a seasoned rub, spicy boiled peanut hummus, and pimento cheese with flatbread. But wait, there’s more: tangerines, sharp cheddar, dried cherries, apricots, dates, and pineapple, plus a beautiful poached pear filled with gorgonzola. This is a plate of food that you could enjoy with a friend or while conducting some lunchtime business, as it is all nibbles and plenty of them. What a great offering!
Chef Camp wanted me to sample a couple of his other menu items, and I was more than willing. Although it’s hard to choose just one, I think my favorite was his Fried Oysters on Corn and Ramp Hoecakes, served with Texas Pete mayonnaise, sliced tomatoes, and arugula. A ramp, by the way, is a type of wild onion that is now available commercially, although it can be difficult to find. The oysters were perfectly cooked and succulent, with a crisp coating; the hoe cake was bright and slightly sweet. I loved the bite of the mayonnaise. This lunch entrée is really scrumptious.
I also tried PLaE’s Squash Risotto served with Crispy Duck, and a red wine demi glace with parmesan cheese. What a rich and luscious dish! PLaE makes the best risotto on the island, and the squash risotto is no exception. It’s creamy, and the squash gives it a bit of sweetness. The duck is unique—it is a duck leg that is deep fried—and the batter is of the flour and ice water variety. It is light and super crispy. A different take on duck confit, it is really wonderful.
And then, there was dessert. PLaE makes all their desserts on site, and, trust me, whatever you order will be perfect. Carter suggested the Chocolate Bourbon Pecan Pie, served slightly warm with gourmet vanilla bean ice cream and hot fudge. Of course, I love my desserts, and this version of a Southern favorite was over-the-top fantastic.
The restaurant also offers some gluten-free desserts, so everyone can enjoy a sweet treat for dessert. PLaE is open for lunch Tuesday through Saturday, 11:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.