Chef Ray Pigg and his, wife, Mary, offer old favorites and exciting new dishes—all with a warm welcome.
Just six months ago, Chef Ricky Pigg and his wife, Mary, purchased Joe’s 2nd Street Bistro, and already they are fast friends with the Amelia Island community. Their close connection to Joe’s began when Ricky’s father, Ray Pigg, a local artist, created the painting that would eventually become the cover of Joe’s menu. A member of the Island Art Association, Ray was well-known and loved on Amelia Island until his passing not long ago. Ricky met Mary in Nashville, and the couple moved to Fernandina last summer to take over Joe’s 2nd Street Bistro, where Ricky’s father’s paintings still hang today.
I went to dinner at Joe’s recently with my friend Bruce, and we had a fine time talking with Ricky and Mary and enjoying a fabulous meal. Our server Christopher poured us a glass of Third Wife Sauvignon Blanc, a crisp white wine, while we enjoyed homemade potato foccacio bread served with pesto oil for dipping. That night Ricky suggested we try the Grilled Vegetable Salad with Bleu Cheese, and it was fantastic. The zucchini and yellow squash were slightly smoky, with soft bleu cheese on top and a thirty year balsamic vinegar drizzled around the plate. Food for all the senses to enjoy! Then we sampled some of Joe’s famous Gumbo, made with prime beef, shrimp and Andouille sausage. The gumbo was rich and a little bit spicy, served with saffron rice. We had Spinach, Orange, and Macadamia Nut Salad after that, served with a homemade honey Dijon dressing. This was especially nice after the gumbo, sort of a palate cleanser, and the macadamia nuts were an exotic treat.
Ricky wanted us to try some other appetizers, so we sampled Crab Cakes with Lemon Remoulade Sauce, and also Chicken and Andouille Wontons. The crab cakes were terrific, nearly all crab. And I especially liked the creativity of the wontons, which were served crispy hot, stuffed with roasted chicken, sausage, and a rich leek cream cheese, then drizzled with homemade barbecue sauce. A Napa cabbage slaw was the perfect compliment to the wontons.
Christopher brought us our entrees, Grilled Bone-In New York Strip Steak and a special that night, Fresh Snapper with Red Pepper Jelly. The steak was magnificent, served medium rare with three sauces. There was a decadent roasted shallot and gorgonzola butter on top of the steak, plus an au jus sauce on the plate that paired well with the rustic mashed potatoes. The snapper was sautéed with a crispy coating and topped with a homemade red pepper jelly, a sweet surprise. This dish was served with parsnips and butternut squash, my favorite winter root vegetables, a rich brown butter sauce and a rosemary grits cake. The dish was extraordinary. The grits at Joe’s are freshly ground when Ricky orders them, and you can really taste that in the grits cake and their Shrimp & Grits dish, another one of my favorites.
For dessert, Ricky had us sample Apple Bread Pudding, served hot with vanilla ice cream, plus a scrumptious Sweet Potato Cheesecake, and a slice of Key Lime Pie, almost chiffon-like, with a graham cracker and pecan crust. Joe’s creative staff is cooking up wonderful new dishes and familiar favorites every night of the week. After renovations in January, the restaurant will open for lunch as well as dinner. As always, Joe’s 2nd Street Bistro welcomes larger parties in their upstairs room and beautiful courtyard.