I was stuffed like a turkey yesterday after splurging on a decadent dessert with some lunch from JJ’s Bistro de Paris off Gate Parkway (2 locations: the original is at Ponte Vedra Beach called JJ’s Liberty Bistro), and I am thrilled to say I have found a new favorite! They are open for lunch and dinner and if you’ve just watched Julie & Julia or read My Life with Julia, you’ll want to come here and sample everything.
I have been hearing of this establishment (and French Pantry) for a while now, and I was finally able to take a long lunch (requiring me to work at the crack of dawn so I can do this) with my college foodie friends, Cathy and Marian. The entire place is a bit Disneyish, but a big Eiffel Tower graces the inside where cute café style tables and chairs fill the cozy space. Murals in muted reds, blues, beiges, and greens add to the ambiance. It is chic casual, and I loved it. Even more lovable about this place is the plethora of desserts we passed in the glass cases. Lunch options range from $8.50 and $14.95; I ordered a cup of tomato bisque, one of the lunch specials of herb crepes with chicken and vegetables ($9.95) with a creamy balsamic vinegar reduction sauce, and the hefty “mini” dessert sampler ($15.95). (I went way over budget, but I was ravenous that day). Cathy ordered the same lunch special crepes with fries and a cup of French onion soup. Marian ordered a cup of tomato bisque and for lunch, the quiche with a side salad.
My meal was divine; the soup was creamy with the right tartness and sweetness for a bisque. The crepes were deceptively light but with the filling and lovely sauce, I could not get past 1 crepe. This was my favorite part of the meal, savory crepes. Cathy said her fries were a bit heavy (peanut oil can do this) but well seasoned, and she fully enjoyed her French onion soup. She loved her crepes as well. Marian was not used to light texture in her quiche, but she admitted it was her being used to heavy cheesy Americanized quiches.
Finally, the dessert, oh, the guilty pleasure. With over 40 selections (dessert options are written on a blackboard for you to drool over), it was difficult to choose so I opted for the chef’s tasting option (4 half slices of cake). When it arrives, on my plate, there are 4 huge slices! (This is a half slice, YES, my kind of place!) We were warned by the waiter about the amount, but who cared??? I had chocolate raspberry mousse cake, blueberry cheesecake cake, chocolate banana cream pie, and tiramisu cake. Not a fan of any chocolate/fruit combo, Marian was thrilled to have the chocolate raspberry confection. The rest was heavenly, moist, luscious, sweet but not overly sweet: just what a dessert should be. Pie was light, flaky with a light-as-air chocolate filling; I saved the rest for sharing with my family that night. Cathy’s plate contained the lemon crepe cake, chocolate mousse cake, chocolate cherry bomb cake, and pumpkin cake. One cake slice (was it the lemon crepe one?) was a tad dry, but the rest of the plate was delicious. Wear your stretchy pants if you’re doing this dessert sampler. This sampler is meant for sharing.
One loyal customer had the pecan bourbon tart with vanilla ice cream which he described as the “pecan pie on steroids.” So he graciously allowed me to take a pic of his favorite dessert; too bad he would not let me sample his, too. Pictures of this meal will be posted later on my blog at jaxfoodiefreak.blogspot.com as they would not post here (for some odd reason). Stop by here, wear stretchy pants, and practice your French! You will return.