The Ice Plant, 110 Riberia Street, St. Augustine, Florida 32084
When you walk through the doors of this old, rustically charming restaurant you can’t help but be impressed. The two-story historic haunt, which was originally built in the 1920’s and used as an ice plant, still looks and feels very much like an old factory.
It even has its original bridge crane on rails placed above the bar, which was used to move huge blocks of ice that were eventually broken down and sold to local customers and shrimping boats in the area (back in the day.) With that being said, The Ice Plant is all about the art and craft of mixing exceptional cocktails: using fresh house-pressed juices, an assortment of bitters, homemade syrups and handcrafted ice cubes made from purified water (they even use a 300 pound block of ice to chip from.)
I started my evening off by tasting three of the bars most highly recommended cocktails. “The Psychedelic Fur” (made with rum, strawberry, fernet, ginger, bitters and cucumber,) was lovely and light with just the right amount of fizz. The prettiest and by far the iciest drink, which reminded me of a snow cone, was “The Moon And Antarctica” (made with St. Augustine New World Gin, rum, horchata, lemon and lime.) Last but not least, the classic “Florida Mule” (served with St. Augustine Vodka, ginger, lime, soda and mint.) Choosing a favorite is nearly impossible, but if someone were holding an icepick to my head I’d go with the “Florida Mule.”
After sipping on three drinks, I stayed in a bar kind of mood; opting to start my dinner off with a few fun snacks. I’m still dreaming about the sinful “Devils On Horseback” (bacon wrapped dates with buttermilk blue cheese puree.) The Blue Crab Beignets were just as sumptuous (battered with Rouille and green tomato chow chow.)
After my snacks, I had one small plate (appetizer) before my main course. I asked my friendly waiter, Guillermo (who had just started that day and was excellent,) to bring me something photogenic. I have a weakness for pretty food. This is a fashion blog after all. He recommended the “Pickled GA White Shrimp” and believe you me, it doesn’t get any better than tangy shrimp (piled on top of grilled sourdough bread with peppers, celery hearts and aioli.)
I was starting to think this place was too good to be true, especially after spotting “Ricotta Gnocchi” on the menu (made with lamb ragu, fino verde and parmesan.) I’ve always heard the true test of how great a restaurant is depends on whether or not they can cook a killer gnocchi. Be still my heart! Even though I was told to get the burger, I happily had my heart set on a dish of gnocchi and boy, was I glad I did. It was soft, fluffy and fantastic. (This was my second spotlight of the day, so I opted out of desert.) The Ice Plant, a place where history and the here and now combine; making life undeniably different and delicious…that’s why it’s one of my favorite things.
The Ice Plant is located downtown St. Augustine, which is one of the oldest, most charming cities in the country. When I long to get away from Miami, I tend to drive south to The Keys, but now that I’ve experienced the “Old City,” I can’t wait to go back. It’s a great escape and extremely low-key.
I stumbled onto The Ice Plant while doing research for a blog on the Casa Monica Hotel (also located in downtown St. Augustine.) This unique gem of a restaurant sits tall and proud on Riberia street and is easily walkable if your exploring the heart of the city.
They have straightforward parking, but keep in mind this is probably the hottest spot in town and sometimes getting a place (if you’re there on a Friday or Saturday) can be a bit tricky. An overflow lot is set up in the back of the plant to accommodate busy nights. Also, once you’re inside be prepared to wait it out because it’s first come, first serve. If you have bad timing and find yourself on a long waiting list: trust me…it’s totally worth it.
Tuesday-Saturday 11:30am-2:00am, Sunday-Monday 11:30am-Midnight
Lunch 11:30am-2:30pm Monday-Friday. Dinner 5pm-10pm 7 days a week.
(Pictures of the St. Augustine Distillery, which is also housed inside The Ice Plant, are pictured in the blog.)
Editor: Matthew Auerbach
Writer & Producer: Shireen Sandoval
Photographer: James Woodley