Notes from the road: New restaurant at Fernandina serves real barbecue

A view from deck Captain Jack's Smokehouse; Fernandina Beach FL
awards for BBQ captain jack's founders
The founders of Captain Jack’s Smokehouse obviously know their barbecue. Their awards fill a wall in the new restaurant at Fernandina Beach (FL).

I traveled with Rebecca on Tuesday to a private event in Fernandina Beach. A new restaurant was doing a trial run before opening to the public—a ‘soft opening.’ Rebecca contracted to provide music for the evening. Because the restaurant is new, we had no idea what to expect. I came away with positive impressions. The biggest one: Captain Jack’s Smokehouse serves real barbecue.

Rebecca Day (the crazy daysies) on deck at Capt. Jack's Smokehouse; Fernandina
Rebecca Day took in the view from the deck during her break at a special event at Captain Jack’s Smokehouse in Fernandina Beach (FL).

The evening began on a quiet note, with various guests getting seated and listening to the music set low so people could talk. The location [960030 Gateway Blvd.] is very convenient—it’s in a shopping center on the main road that takes you to the end of the island.

I chose the barbecue sliders from the menu with French fries on the side. That barbecue is some of the best Florida has to offer—the honey bourbon sauce I picked was outstanding. There was no gunk in the barbecue—I really appreciated that. The fries are real potatoes, not those cardboard things you get in lots of places. I watched the diners, and many chose the salmon or ribs. Both looked fantastic.

There was a wine tasting going on in the bar—that area is separated from the main restaurant by a partial wall.

Rebecca was playing for three hours, and when I walked outside several times, people were heading to their cars and asking me when the restaurant would open to the public. So I told them to head to the Captain Jack’s Smokehouse page on Facebook and watch for the announcement.

The restaurant has an outdoor deck that overlooks the marsh. It’s very scenic out there and a great place to sit and watch birds and such.

Other than the great food, the thing that struck me was the friendliness shown by every single staffer there. I think this is always a business’ strongest suit other than the product—employees who genuinely seem to care about the place they work and try to render customers the best service possible.

Captain Jack's Smokehouse Bar area
A wine tasting was held in the bar area for guests at the special event at Captain Jack’s Smokehouse.

I came away with a very positive impression of the place. I can say all these things because the show for Rebecca was a one-up and done. I didn’t hear of any plans for future live music although I can’t say for sure. But she has nothing on her future books for the restaurant, so that frees me to pretty much say what I want to.

If you’re traveling the East coast, or if you live in the Amelia Island area, give Captain Jack’s Smokehouse a try. If you do, you’ll see a whole wall of awards the founders earned for their exceptional barbecue. The restaurant is family-owned, and maybe that’s why it has a welcoming feel the moment you walk in.

I’m always glad to see another family-owned business open. Captain Jack’s Smokehouse was well worth the wait.

After the show, Rebecca and I stopped for coffee and donut munchkins at Dunkin. She never eats before a show, and she made quick work of those munchkins on the way home. I couldn’t resist snapping a shot of her gleefully paying homage to that coffee and those sweets.

Meanwhile, I’m keeping my to-go back packed for a busy summer as the Daysies do private events in addition to shows at restaurants and bars, festivals, and concerts. Notes from the Road will be a recurring feature here. I did manage to talk Rebecca into taking a little time off during June. Somehow, she keeps booking into her imaginary vacation time.

[Disclosure: I will derive no benefits from writing this article.]

(Kay B. Day/June 13, 2019)

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