Monday, 11 July 2011 01:49
We enjoy a wide variety of food in our little neck of the swamp—arguably highlights of the some of the world’s best flavors.
Yes, you’ll satisfy a Cuban craving; you’ll also enjoy fine European-style bistros, various interpretations of international “fusion,” and highlights from Punjab menus. We even have (gasp!) sushi. But in an effort to escape our certainly uncultured and backwoods upbringings, we might accidentally leave out some of the best food, ever—the kind that reminds us of after-church dinner and does farmer’s market vendors proud. The very new Blue Gill Quality Foods offers the best in Southern-style “home cooking,” although we’d challenge you to find someone who eats this well at home.
By Maghan McDowell; photos by Sean Kelly
Good, and Plenty
Blue Gill is the newest brainchild of local chef Bert Gill, who has become known for plain and simple good food in restaurants like the New Deal Café and Mildred’s Big City Food. Although at first it might seem odd that a restaurant-owner known for some of the best fine dining in Gainesville goes 180˚ in opening a casual, come-as-you are, fried fish and okra joint, it makes sense when you consider that he is known for his hyper-local and seasonal menus. In other words, boiled peanuts and collard greens ain’t broke, and to our humble palettes, pair perfectly with fried shrimp and smoked brisket. Just sayin’.
It’s the kind of place where you come for a bite to eat, invite some friends to join you in “the fruit stand,” and after some Trailer Park Punch ($6) and Country Thyme Lemonade ($7), find yourself sampling bourbon at the bar. We would know.
Menu highlights include the fried chicken (served with a cucumber salad and black eyed peas that are all but hidden under the whopping four pieces of perfectly crispy, moist meat for $14), and the most succulent hunk of deceptively unassuming pork shoulder, served with scalloped potatoes and collard greens on our visit ($11). The hefty portions invite a family-style dining atmosphere that reinforces the down-home vibe.
Address: 1310 SW 13th Street (on the ground floor of the new parking garage on 13th Street across from Arby’s).
Parking: Plenty in the parking garage and free in the evening.
Hours: 10am-11pm Mon-Tues, 11am-11pm Wed-Sat.
Signature dish: Fried chicken with cucumber salad and black-eyed peas ($14).
Price range: $$-$$$ (out of $$$$)
Dress code: Casual.
Monthly specials: Vary with the season and chef’s whim. See chalkboard at the front.
Outdoor seating: No.
The location in the ground floor of the new parking garage on Southwest 13th Street is also interesting, but it works to reinforce the casual atmosphere. Don’t miss the recycled go-cart tire lamps above the bar or the authentic roadside fruit signs on the wall (“P-Nuts!” “Strawbeerry’s”.) You’ll want to linger over a Gin Fizz ($6) and some local Swamphead beer on draft ($3) after dinner.
Also not to miss? The desserts! (Gluten-, sugar- or fat-free don’t really fit in the “ya’ll” vocabulary.) We were lucky enough to make room for the creamy homemade blueberry ice cream ($3.50), the fried peach pie ($6) and the lemon bars ($5)—our favorite, with a wonderful sugar cookie crust.
Bring the whole famn damily to Blue Gill Quality Foods for the most daring, exotic food you’ll find south of the Mason-Dixon line. You’ll be a trendsetter, trust us.