Gilbert’s Underground Kitchen: From Top Chef to Fernandina
November 10, 2017
Chef Kenny Gilbert gives Amelia Island a creative spin on BBQ sure to impress
Once you cross the bridge to Amelia Island, you’ll stumble across a restaurant with BBQ smokers sitting out front called Gilbert’s Underground Kitchen. Here, you’ll be able to find a wide variety of smoked meats (even alligator!) served in the classic BBQ way by the pound, or as a fancied up dish. Either way, do yourself a favor and stop by.
Gilbert’s UK was opened by Chef Kenny Gilbert who starred on Season 7 of “Top Chef” and S10Ep1 of “Cutthroat Kitchen”. He has an expansive range of experience from cooking all over the world shown throughout his dishes featured. You can read more about Chef Gilbert and his story here.
When you walk in, you’re greeted by a cozy lounge area complete with a Sangria Bar. Since we did not have reservations, we dined in the front area. However, there is a really nice dining area in the back and outdoor seating as well to choose from. While much quieter in the lounge area, you’re still able to order off the full menu.
Now for the food! My parents and I had quite a difficult time deciding what to order, but settled on two appetizers to start. We had never tried smoked alligator ribs, so we went with the Pulled Smoked Alligator Rib Sliders and Smoked Mullet Fish Dip.
I was really impressed with the alligator sliders! I thought the meat would have been more tough and chewy than traditional pork BBQ, but it was actually just as tender. However, you can’t eat these without the South Carolina BBQ sauce. It’s amazing. I’m pretty sure the BBQ sauce was my Dad’s favorite at the restaurant, even more so than the food.
I had also never tried mullet before, and it did not disappoint! Completed with an array of pickled vegetables and crackers, this smoked dip is pretty similar to a smoked tuna dip. I also really loved the presentation of these dishes on a simple wood plank.
Next, came the main courses. While my parents both got the Local Wild Shrimp and Grits, I decided to try something different with the Vegetable Ramen with Smoked Pulled Turkey (meat optional). The menu describes the Shrimp and Grits being served with “Speckled cheese grits, black pepper queso, sun-dried tomatoes, roasted garlic, and savory herbs.” I did have to try a few bites of this dish and thought it was a great spin on traditional shrimp and grits (and I’m picky when it comes to this dish). I believe the sun-dried tomatoes and black pepper queso set this apart from ones I have tried elsewhere.
However, I have to say my choice of the ramen was the better of the two entrees. In addition to the smoked turkey I added, it includes roasted cloves of garlic, sun-dried tomatoes, brussels sprouts, and rice noodles in a cauliflower miso broth with garlic butter. I’ve had my fair share of ramen, but I have never had any similar to Gilbert’s. It was so delicious and very filling!! It’ll be hard for me to order something different during my next visit because it was so yummy and different.
So, if you’re ever in the Jacksonville/Amelia Island, Florida area, stop by Gilbert’s Underground Kitchen. You won’t be disappointed!