Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Weekend of friends, family and lots of fried grub

The lovely Miss Wendy’s longtime gal pal, Michele – and her husband David – had lots to celebrate over the weekend. Their youngest son Jerad and his fiancée Megan will be marrying in the fall and they decided it was time everyone met and partied together.

The festivities were in Jacksonville, Michele and David’s home and the hot and humid place where Wendy and I met, once upon a time. But that’s a blog that’s already been written. Wendy and I also had the opportunity to spend some up close and personal time with family – Ann and Leon – and friends – Linda and Barry.

We also had a few hours to schlep out to the beach, stroll along the Atlantic and do a little quality window shopping at some of the area’s malls and tourist spots. Mostly we ate and drank our way through a couple of parties and rubbed shoulders with Michele and David’s friends and family.

The grub and drink was of the high brunch variety – Mimosas, Bellinis and Bloody Marys; tasty salads; lox and bagels, onions, capers and cream cheese; eggs, French toast, and an assortment of breakfast meats; pastries, croissants; cakes, cookies and pies. Yum!

What most lingers in my mind and gut, however, is Saturday night; a quiet dinner for 30 at one of the city’s iconic food emporiums, Beach Road Chicken Dinners. I imagine when it first opened in the 1930s, the rambling shack had a fresh and modern vibe about it. Today, it’s a gentle reminder of a time, ah, gone with the wind!

Several years ago, Wendy and I were feeling a bit nostalgic and oddly agreed we needed a little grease. Go figure. We were in Jacksonville, so decided to visit Beach Road. It was looking a little gritty around the edges. After spotting a family of roaches feasting on some crumbs at a nearby table, we made a hasty retreat.

I’m oh-so happy to report that the place has cleaned up its act; the shack has been fumigated, painted, enlarged and air conditioned. The sweet smell of fried chicken still permeates every crack and crevice. But that’s a good thing.

Those following me on the pages of this blog know that in recent months I have turned my back on all things fried; refined sugar, creams, potatoes and bread. Sigh! My choice then was to drink water, order a salad – I think they have salad – and nibble around the edges of a few side dishes. Or I could say the heck with it and rationalize that one meal a diet does not make!

I chose door number two. And behind that door was fried chicken, crispy, golden brown and juicy; cole slaw, French fries, mashed potatoes and rice; hot biscuits fresh from the oven, served up with a rich, creamy gravy and, if you’re an absolute glutton, honey.

Oh, right, and the specialty of the house – cream peas. Peas are, well, peas. They’re okay, especially if you gussy them up with salt, pepper, onions and garlic or bury them in a mound of creamy whipped potatoes.

But Beach Road Chicken Dinner’s cream peas – a euphonic blend of salt and butter, heavy cream, all-purpose flour and white sugar – are a decadent and tasty treat. I did mention that one meal a diet does not make, right?

So here’s a hearty thanks to Michele and David for including us in their special weekend; best wishes and mazel tov to Megan and Jerad; and three words for the owners of Beach Road Chicken Dinners – I’ll be back!


  1. Ron, I loved your accurate reporting of our special week end. I do, however, need to mention that the bridal shower given on Saturday was a bit more healthy as Cobb salads were served. This healthy entree was followed by a taste of a very unique cake for dessert. Our beautiful bride, Megan, is a librarian and it seemed only natural for the cake to be two large books, stacked one on the other, which read, "History" and "Recess"....Megan's favorite subjects in elementary school. On the top, the cake read, " know her is to love her" words from my heart. The week end was perfect, and would not have been the same without you and Wendy.
    "Mother of the GROOM!!"

  2. Ron, Did you know that Beach Road Chicken Dinners location was originally Lew's (or Len's) Latke House. True. My dad always talked about it and that business went down after the 'new' beach road (Beach Boulevard) opened.

    You may recall that my parents bought a home quite near there, and I'll bet that BRCD played a pert in the decision. BRCD was also a site of many 'festive' family dinners with Uncle Joey picking up the tab.

    Best wishes, Aaron

  3. Based on your blog above, I will insist that my parents take us to beach road chicken next time we are in Jacksonville! arlene