wine tasting & a restaurant review:: the columbia

On Friday night of our beach vacay in St. Augustine, we went downtown for dinner at my favorite spot in town. I’m sure you’re thinking it’s seafood, given that we were at the beach in FL, but it’s actually The Columbia Restaurant. I don’t care that much for seafood unless it’s crab cakes, fried clam strips (I know, I know — am I 6?), or white fish. Shrimp? No thank you! Anyway, there are several locations around the state, but Craig and I first tried it when we were in town a few years ago to meet with our potential wedding photographer. It’s located on St. George St and is right in the middle of all the action in the walkable downtown area. It’s a huge restaurant — we brought a group of 30+ people there one night during our wedding weekend and had the best time.

Before dinner, Mom suggested that we visit The Gifted Cork — a wine and gift boutique down the street from The Columbia. It’s a cute little store filled to the brim with wine-related gifts — coasters, funny cocktail napkins, decanters, corks, and of course tons and tons of wine. Every afternoon, they have $5 wine tastings with wines chosen for the theme of the month. I think July’s theme was the beach, given the wine labels… We choose four of the eight wines to taste and got to keep a souvenir wine glass. The staff was so friendly and knowledgeable — the guy who helped us was actually from Atlanta, so we had lots to chat about.

Craig and I went with reds and enjoyed all of them, especially the Beach House (maybe Pinot?) and Longboard (Cabernet). We bought a few bottles to take home as souvenirs, and mom got a really fun fish-shaped bottle of white. It was such a fun little activity, and you can’t beat $5!

So back to The Columbia…
They have a delicious white sangria (called the Sangria de Cava) made table-side that we just love. It’s made with champagne, brandy, orange liqueur, and citrus juice — it’s so refreshing on hot summer days. Plus, it’s served in one of their cute ceramic painted pitchers (not pictured below, but they really are cute). They sell them in their gift store, too.

One of my other favorite things is that they serve each person 1/2 a loaf of bread with lots and lots of soft butter. YUM! Right up my alley. I don’t remember what anyone else got, but I’ll tell you about the only dish I ever get — the Chicken Salteado. It’s chicken, chorizo, diced potatoes, onions, green peppers, garlic, and red wine — served with yellow rice. Here’s a photo so you can picture how tasty it is. Oh, and that yummy bread is sneaking into the background, too.

If you’re ever in St. Augustine and in the mood for a non-fried seafood place, you have to check it out!

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